East African governments have been challenged to upgrade infrastructures to facilitate transportation of goods so that ordinary citizens can purchase them at affordable prices.
“We need sound infrastructures so that common people can have goods at cheap prices. Poor infrastructure contributes to high prices”, said Anold Kilewo, former Chairman of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) during the launch of the State of East Africa 2012 report in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
He said partner states should have its infrastructure revived if it really wanted to ensure economic engagement and alleviate poverty among its citizens.
Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of East African Cooperation, Mussa Uledi said East African governments are taking measures to upgrade roads and railways, citing Tanzania whereas measures to upgrade two major railway lines are in the pipeline.
He said the railways include the country’s central railway line which will be extended to Burundi and Rwanda and the Arusha-Mombasa railway line.
He however said despite the challenges trade in the EAC is increasing mainly due to the EAC Customs Union, adding: “These challenges show that the integration is dynamic and citizens should look for future benefits.”
Presenting the report which has been prepared by the Society for International Devlopment (SID) and sponsored by Trade Mark East Africa, Aidan Eyakuze, Programme Officer, SID Regional Office for East and Southern Africa said EAC trade with the world increased from USD 17.5 billion in 2005 to USD 37 billion in 2010.
Eyakuze said trade amongst EAC partner states has also increased from USD 2.2 billion in 2005 to USD 4.1 billion in 2010.
He said EAC total agriculture trade increased by 266 percent from USD 2.0 billion in 2002 to USD 7.5 billion in 2008 while the region’s export position changed from a surplus of USD 322 million to a net deficit of USD 644 million in the same period.
The region also exported a total of USD 380 million worth of fish in 2008 which is an increase of 90 percent from USD 200 million exported in 2002.
Tanzania accounts for 48 percent of the fish exports with USD 4.7 million which is down compared to 57 percent in 2000 -2002. Tanzania’s drop in fish exports is due to increasing exports from Uganda and Kenya.
According to the report, Tanzanian products that are mostly exported to Kenya include tomatoes, onions, bananas, processed products like petroleum jelly, soap, cooking oil and other cereal and crop products.