2015 was challenging year to bloc, says EAC chief

02Jan 2016
Guardian On Sunday
2015 was challenging year to bloc, says EAC chief

The Secretary General of .the East African Community (EAC), Richard Sezibera has admitted that 2015 was a challenging year to the bloc.

The Secretary General of EAC, Richard Sezibera

In his New Year address, the diplomat singled out past year as most challenging to the integration process, thanks to the immigration crisis in Europe and the slowing down of growth in emerging markets.
“The rules based on a global trade regime under the World Trade Organization are under stress. The slowing down of growth in emerging markets, particularly the BRICS countries, with the concomitant fall in commodity prices, continues to put pressure on government budgets across Africa, affecting, in many ways, East African countries,” he noted.
In his address, the Secretary General also pledged support to Burundi, an EAC member, whose unrest began in April, last year, when President Pierre Nkurunzinza announced that he would seek a third term in office.
Sazibera said: “As we usher in the New Year, we pray for our brothers and sisters in Burundi, for whom 2015 has been particularly challenging. I can only hope that 2016 will be a year of peace, stability and prosperity for them. The Community will certainly continue to accompany them in this quest for a return to full normality.”
Early last year, the relationship between Tanzania and Kenya went into a dysfunction after the former decided to reduce Kenya Airways flights into its territory from a weekly schedule of 42 to 14.
This followed an earlier move by Kenya to bar Tanzanian-registered tour vans from accessing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Sezibera also called for an accelerated pace of the integration process, noting that the previous year had shown that East Africa needed to urgently conclude a Protocol on Good Governance, and strengthen its early warning and conflict management.
“The clock is ticking on our march towards a single currency by 2024. The Monetary Affairs Committee as well as the Fiscal Affairs Committee are working to make sure we meet the deadlines contained in the East African Monetary Union Protocol…I look forward to accelerated movement on the Political Federation Agenda for East Africa during 2016,” he said.
According to the Secretary General, the bloc continued to be in the forefront of integration and growth where a single customs territory continued to deliver benefits to East Africans, both on the central corridor as well as the other corridor.
With free movement of labour becoming a reality for Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, Sezibera said he was looking forward to Tanzania’s participation in the process, as well as the launch of the New Generation e- East African passport.
Meanwhile, the EAC Secretary General observed that austerity times proved to be the Achilles heel to the integration, thus called for robust investment in the regional Integration as well as the promotion of intra African trade if the bloc was to withstand the challenges ahead.
“This is the time for creating a truly African market - in goods and services, including financial services...this is the time for shared Industrialization, creating value chains across countries and regions,” concluded Sezibera in his address.

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