The new Secretary General of the East African Community Dr. Richard Sezibera has assured the people of the region and development partners to give the best in serving the cherished organisation.
By Vision Reporter
The new Secretary General of the East African Community Dr. Richard Sezibera has assured the people of the region and development partners to give the best in serving the cherished organisation. “As we look to the period ahead of deepening integration, we realise that after the Independence movement of the 1960’s, regional integration is perhaps the greatest social movement of our time,” he said.
“I take this opportunity to express again my thanks to the East African Heads of State for giving me this opportunity to serve the people of East Africa,” Dr. Sezibera, said of his recent appointment.
During Ambasador Mwapachu’s tenure, his predecessor, the Secretariat maintained a highly professional commitment and posture. With his dynamic personality and passionate drive, the EAC has projected a powerful and positive image. He boosted confidence in the regional organisation among the people of East Africa and the development partners.
“The objective is to deepen awareness, appreciation of our people, from the grassroots to the top leadership, State and civil society actors, in the integration process. Integration is too important to be left to the experts and bureaucrats alone’’ Sezibera said. A strong realisation should dawn across the region that the actualisation of the East African Community depends on a resolute political will and a clear focused determination to make the EAC Customs Union and Common Market a vibrant reality and not just a statement on paper, he pointed out.
“This should be an opportunity to celebrate the breakthroughs that the EAC has made, but also to look squarely at the significant challenges we face in the period ahead,” he stated. The launching of the Common Market has been a major historic achievement.
However, there are legal and regulatory frameworks that are required to be put in place in orderto breathe life into the declarations on the various free movements under the Customs Union and Common Market operations. “As regards to the Customs Union, our challenge is to further strengthen its operations and maximise its benefits. There is need to focus on the elimination of the Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and take all the necessary measures to build a truly integrated and solid East African market,” Sezibera said.
He noted that similarly, theestablishment of the Common Market has coincided with the energised movement in the EAC Monetary Union process. “We should be determined to realise the timely establishment of the Monetary Union by in accordance with the decision already taken by the Summit. Despite the complex issues involved in the establishment of the Monetary Union, we are also aware that these issues are not undefeatable. Where there’s a will there’s a way, “ observed the Secretary General.
He explained that in the same vein, great strides had beenmade in the development of regional infrastructure which is a main pillar of regional integration. The recent efforts and progress in moving from master plans to project implementation of regional physical infrastructure is very encouraging.
“There is Arusha-Namanga-Athi River road project, which is nearing completion, and the expansion of the regional infrastructure master plans in roads, railways and energy to cover Rwanda and Burundi which is ongoing at advanced stages. There is also the interconnection between Kenya and Tanzania, which has been commissioned at Namanga. Then the construction of the EAC headquarters which is due for completion.”
Sezibera promised that efforts will be intensified in the actualisation of the projects and programmes in the development of civil aviation, railways, telecommunications, and energy development; and the Lake Victoria development projects and programmes.
There has been good progressand achievements in the harmonisation of the incentives regimes and overall promotion of investments and trade in the region. In this regard, the collaboration among the EAC Secretariat, East African Business Council and the Partner States’ Investments Promotion Agencies in promoting EAC investments and trade will be further encouraged.
He said, the successful staging of the African Investment Forum in Dar es Salaam following closely on the World Economic Forum on Africa which was held in the same venue last May has firmly placed the region in the spotlight ofm international trade and development attention. In particular, he says the Heads of States and Governments’ personal participation and support to the trade and investment is further proof, if any were needed, that this region is open for business. He however, noted that agricultural development and food security remain key challenges for the region.
“The 9th Extraordinary Summit of Heads of state has paid particular attention to this issue, especially during this period of rising fuel and food prices and adopted the EAC Food Security Action Plan (2011) and the EAC Climate Change Policy for implementation.”
A team of experts appointed in 2010 to look into the issues of Political Federation has made its recommendations on the way forward. There is need to focus on implementing the decisions of the Summit relating to reconstituting that team to more concretely address the fears and concern of some of the issues. “As the regional programme enlarges and expands, it becomes important to provide effective institutional frameworks and resources to match it,” Sezibera said.
“EAC’s organisational reform is necessary to fit into the context of moving to the higher stages of integration. These reforms, which can be realised through administrative actions or relevant amendments of the Treaty, are the key to unlocking the full potential of a more effective EAC.”
“Integration is too important to be left to the experts and bureaucrats alone”