By Vision reporter
The Finnish Government has granted three million Euros (about sh105b) to support various regional integration activities through the EAC Partnership Fund.
The Grant Agreement was signed by EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera and Finnish Ambassador to Tanzania who is also accredited to EAC bloc, Ambassador Sinikka Antila, during the ceremony held at the Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha, Tanzania.
“It is a great pleasure for me to make the commitment for three additional years’’ It is worth noticing that after DFID ,Finland is the second biggest supporter to the Fund since 2008, remarked Finnish Ambassador.
According to the signed agreement, the Government of Finland shall make available on a grant basis and subject to annual parliamentary approval in Finland, a contribution amounting up to a maximum of three millions Euros to support the EAC Partnership Fund during the period of 2013-2016.
The first payment of 1m Euros shall be made against a written request upon the entry into force of the agreement. Subsequent payments shall be made in accordance with the actual progress of the activities and on the basis of the financial needs for the coming period, against a written request.
Ambassador Sezibera thanked the Government of Finland for their continued support in the Partnership Fund, and commended them for seeing the need to intensify development co-operation within the EAC.
One of the regional bloc's priorities is infrastructural development which the leaders believe will strengthen the integration
Sezibera said that the signing of multi-year agreements with development partners made it possible to predict the contribution to the Partnership Fund and therefore facilitated the development of EAC multi-year plans.
Meanwhile EAC Secretary General held a High Level Dialogue with the Heads of Missions and supporters of Partnership Fund.
The dialogue between the two parties focused on the on-going institutional review, financing of the Community, trade and investment, the EAC Partnership Fund, negotiations of South Sudan to join the Community, signing for the Monetary Union Protocol, Economic and COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite talks.
EAC Chief briefly informed the Heads of Mission that a move towards a single customs territory in 2014 was high on the region’s agenda; as well as implementation of the Common Market Protocol.
He added that the region was also focusing on infrastructure development and the recent signing of the Monetary Union Protocol by the EAC Heads of State in Kampala
In attendance were representatives from UK/DFID, Germany, Finland, France, Sweden, Norway, European Union, USA, World Bank, Belgium, Canada, Japan, Denmark, Turkey, Netherlands, among others.
The EAC Partnership Fund is a basket fund mechanism with annual contributions from Development Partners (DPs) aimed at supporting the EAC projects and programs that are geared towards regional integration.
It was established on 15 September 2006 and is open to DPs who finance it through Contribution Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) signed between DPs and the EAC.