Making the announcement, Liang Lin, the Political Counselor at the Chinese embassy in Dar es Salaam, said that China was keen on working with the EAC in, among other fields, education, infrastructure development, trade, prevention of Ebola, peace and security, and capacity building initiatives.
Lin, who paid a courtesy call on the EAC Secretary General, ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko, at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, disclosed that China was working on infrastructure projects that would promote connectivity across the entire African continent including road and railway networks, adding that other areas were developing hydropower, power transmission and expansion of seaports.
The Chinese envoy further said that China would also assist in building industrial parks in the EAC Partner States, and is looking forward to more discussions on the EAC initiative on bamboo farming in the region.
He revealed that plans were underway to implement infrastructure development projects worth US$16 billion to be implemented over a three period on the entire African continent courtesy of the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
On capacity building, Lin said China would be providing 50,000 scholarships to African countries and urged EAC to tap into these study opportunities.
Lin, who represented the Chinese ambassador to Tanzania and the EAC, further presented a donation of US$200,000 from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Secretary General, which monies will go towards capacity building programmes in the EAC.
On his part, EAC Secretary General amb. Liberat Mfumukeko expressed his appreciation to the People’s Republic of China for its generous donation towards the Community’s capacity building programmes.
Amb. Mfumukeko informed Lin that the EAC integration process was well on course with consistent implementation of the EAC Customs Union, Common Market and Monetary Union Protocols.
Amb. Mfumukeko said that EAC partner states had agreed to harmonise cross-border rules and procedures and to open their borders thereby increasing intra-regional trade.
On the free movement of persons, the SG said that there were no visa fee requirements for East Africans traveling across the region with some Partner States allowing the use of national identity cards as traveling documents, adding that the countries were issuing the International East African e-Passport which enables travel within the region and beyond.
On infrastructure development, the SG informed the Chinese envoy that the EAC partner states were jointly implementing regional infrastructure projects that had been agreed upon by the biennial infrastructure development retreats by the Summit of EAC heads of state.
He urged China to upscale multilateral financing for development projects in East Africa to complement the current bilateral financing for the same.
On the EAC political federation, the SG informed Mr. Lin that the Community’s ultimate goal was to become a federation and that it would launch the national stakeholders’ consultations on the Draft Constitution for the EAC political confederation before the end of the month, adding that partner states had provided a budget for the process.
Amb. Mfumukeko said that each EAC partner state had nominated two Constitution Making Experts and one Legal Draftsman to assist in drafting a basic law for the proposed Political Confederation which is a transitional model to the political federation.