DAR-ES-SALAAM â€“ East African Community (EAC) member states must speed up their economic integration in order to become competitive on the global market, a senior official said on Thursday.
EAC Secretary General Amanya Mushega told the EACâ€™s Council of Ministers that members states â€œmust speed up the integration process or risk being left outâ€ of the global economy.
â€œKenya, Tanzania and Uganda have a combined population of over 80 million, potentially rich in agriculture, tourism and mining, but its people are vastly impoverished,â€ Mushega said in a speech at Arusha in northern Tanzania.
â€œWe are likely to find ourselves out-manoeuvred by other countries and regions, as already some countries, which some years ago were far behind us, have overtaken East Africa in terms of attractiveness to investors,â€ he said.
Mushega urged EAC member states to speed up creation of a customs union, which is the EACâ€™s Treaty entry point into realising other goals, such as a common market, common tariff and ultimately a political federation.
He said that so far â€œgood progressâ€ has been achieved in the formulation of the customs union protocol, whose establishment deadline is set at November 2003.
Apart from the customs protocol, efforts were also going on to harmonise policies and programmes geared at development of a vibrant and competitive regional market, Mushega said.
The EACâ€™s Council of Ministers was expected to consider progress achieved in the customs union, and other related issues to EAC integration, ahead of the organisationâ€™s summit scheduled for Saturday.
EAC Told To Speed Integration