The East African Community (EAC) is this week expected to move closer to harmonising taxation among member states following an earlier agreement to remove double charges for businesses that operate in two or more countries. (RELATED: Tax incentive for Kenyan firms with Uganda branches)
The East African Business Council (EABC) in conjunction with EAC will hold a three-day conference on tax harmonisation in Arusha beginning tomorrow, to chart a common taxation policy for the trading bloc.
Tax harmonisation is seen as the key to realisation of a common market.
It aims to address two key issues that have been holding it back, and by extension the regional integration effort.
It would eliminate tax competition among EAC states, and reduce the risk of revenue erosion that comes with the lowering of taxes by national governments to attract Foreign Direct Investment.
According to the EABC executive director, Ms Agatha Nderitu, the conference would create the basis for EAC states to agree on a baseline level of taxes across the board with a good balance between promoting economic development and growth, making each country competitive in terms of their ability to attract investors.
“Private sector would easily tap the opportunities offered by EAC Common Protocol especially its four freedom, which are free movement of goods, labour, capital, and services as well as rights of establishment and residence,” she said.
The five member countries had agreed to eliminate double taxation in cross border transactions in December last year, but member countries are yet to gazette the agreement.
According to the Ministry of East African Community PS, Mr David Nalo, there seems to be a general misunderstanding about tax harmonisation and the Arusha conference would deepen the understanding of what has been achieved and how to move forward.
“Taxes on imports and exports need harmonisation, but there are other domestic ones like VAT (value added tax) that might not necessarily need harmonisation even though we would ideally like to see harmony,” he said. “It all depends on the ability of the individual countries to finance their budgets.” (RELATED: EAC moves to grow trade with export rules review)
Double taxation has been blacklisted as the most notorious stumbling block threatening trade and economic integration among EAC member states.
The Arusha conference brings together heads of East African tax administration, policy makers, heads of private sector federations, EABC members, and tax consultants to discuss progress made, challenges faced and possible new direction for EAC tax policy and administration suitable for the common Market.
Ms Nderitu said that there are numerous benefits for both government and private sector with regard to harmonisation of domestic taxes.
She said that the main one is the elimination of tax distortions so as to bring about a more efficient allocation of resources in the common market and enhance trade. This, she said, would prevent cross-border smuggling of goods encouraged by high difference of taxes — especially prevalent for goods subject to excise tax like alcohol and cigarettes.
Other benefits include the enhanced free movement of goods in the common market, the elimination of harmful tax competition among partner states in attracting investments and the reduced tax administration and compliance costs in the region.
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Published by RCSP Website
Kampala is set to host the first East African Community dialogue to determine the structure for a political federation as EAC Heads of State prepare for a summit later this month.
Delegates drawn from all the five EAC partner states will converge in Kampala on Thursday to discuss, among other issues, whether EAC should be led by a president or a model like the European. The forum will also discuss the role of political parties in EAC integration.
EAC Deputy Secretary General (Political Federation) Beatrice Kiraso said the major objective of the dialogue is to promote participation by East Africans and to enhance political will in political integration.
"This is an outreach that seeks to popularise and inform East Africans about the status of political integration, the progress and challenges thereof and to involve many stakeholders on charting the way ahead," said Ms Kiraso.
Papers of discussion
The meeting will also discuss the formation of a constitution that will guide EAC partner states towards realisation of a political federation.
"The dialogue will be a regular activity in all partner States and topics will be based on studies on various topics on political integration," Kiraso explained.
EAC papers released in July in Arusha, Tanzania, will form the basis for discussion. They are ‘Participation of Political Parties in East Africa Integration Process’, ‘Representation in East African Integration Process’ and ‘A Comparative Study on the Structures and Functioning of Federations’. Four more studies were recently commissioned.
The dialogue’s theme is ‘Enhancing Representation/Inclusiveness in Promoting EAC Integration’ and key topics include the impact of national politics on the integration process to be presented by the immediate former Secretary General of EAC Juma Mwapachu.
There will also be a round-table discussion with a number of development partners interested in collaborating with the EAC in promoting political integration and good governance.
"At the coming summit on November 30 the Heads of State are expected to give guidance on the roadmap towards political federation," added Kiraso.
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Infrastructure development is now accepted as among the salient legacies for President Kibaki’s tenure. Infrastructure projects stride all sectors of the Kenyan economy including IT communication, roads, airports, energy and ports. Other areas like modern rail systems and a new Lamu corridor infrastructure are in the initial implementation stages. It is the infrastructure that will mostly catalyse the country’s economic and social development going forward.
The neighboring EAC countries have not been left behind as they have also been developing their infrastructure. However, it is how well EAC infrastructure development is synchronised that will influence speed and effectiveness of economic integration and trade in the region.
This was the key theme of the Regional Infrastructure Conference held in Nairobi last week. From the proceedings of the conference, it was apparent that a lot remains to be done to achieve joint master planning of infrastructure development in the EAC.
It was stated at the conference that transportation accounts for about 45 per cent of overall production costs for goods in the region compared with 15 per cent in western economies. This is a critical piece of information which we should seriously interrogate to provide answers on how the region can plan to improve its transportation infrastructure for increased efficiency and productivity to achieve competitiveness.
It is also important to accept that new and modern infrastructure systems may not in themselves necessarily increase productivity unless we in addition address associated non-tariff barriers that hinder efficiency.
Road transportation productivity is a function of number of hours in a day and in the week that a vehicle is gainfully driving on the road carrying cargo. To reduce unit transport costs for goods, road transportation should essentially run around the clock.
The challenge to road, port and customs authorities in the EAC is to ensure that we minimise the number of hours trucks are kept waiting or idly parked at the ports and highways. This is important if we are to gain value on huge roads and ports infrastructure investments.
The wider East African region is special – and even notorious – in Africa. In the past 18 years it has produced more new or wanna-be-new nations than all of Africa combined. In 1993 Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed a mutual and happy divorce. The good vibes didn’t last; they became bitter enemies and fought after it happened. In 1991, after the Siad Barre regime was overthrown, Somalia plunged into chaos. A few years later Puntland hived itself off as a semi-independent nation. Somaliland too jumped ship. Unlike Puntland, which is open to joining a future, peaceful Somalia federation or confederation, Somaliland is determined to be independent.
In February this year, South Sudan voted by nearly 100 per cent to secede from Sudan, and in July formally became Africa’s newest country. That is four major border remakes in less than 20 years. How many new countries have arisen in the rest of Africa as a result of a break-up of existing countries (Saharawi Republic doesn’t count)? ZERO!! Precisely because secessionist and breakaway demons roam the wider East Africa, the feeling is that over the next 20 to 50 years, we shall see more nations breaking up or being swallowed as others grow.
For anyone interested in the future borders of what is sometimes called the Greater Horn of Eastern Africa (GHEA) – comprising Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and DR Congo – two studies are recommended. The first is a popular piece of work “Fluid Borders: Integration, Federation, and Fragmentation”, by the Society for International Development (SID) which was published in its journal Greater Horn of Eastern Africa Outlook (November 2010).
A row is brewing between Kenyan traders and Tanzania’s custom officials following the introduction of Sh16, 400 ($200) levy at the Namanga border.
Tanzania’s custom officials continue to defy an order by their East African Community minister Samuel Sitta that the levy against Kenyan traders’ crossing to Tanzania be abolished.
Tanzanian Revenue Authority (TRA) is not only levying the amount, but is also said to have increased it toThis has insensed Kenyan truck drivers who are threatening to block the border in retaliation – the same way they did with Taita-Taveta Kenya-Tanzania border point of Holili following a similar incident.
"We do not understand why we are being asked to pay more while trucks from Tanzania part with only $25. We shall barricade this road," said a truck driver.
At a recent meeting at Namanga border post, attended by Kenya’s East Africa Community minister, Musa Sirma, and customs and immigration officials from both sides, the Tanzanian minister blamed TRA officials for the mishap.
"Customs officials have no authority to introduce new tariffs without consultations with the ministry of EAC and other relevant ministries of the Republic of Tanzania," Sitta said.
"The $200 is undermining the spirit of EAC integration and business along our borders and should not be allowed to continue.
Its purpose is to prevent the implementation of a Common Market," he stated.
Sitta said the amount is only levied for purposes of work permits. "TRA officials should examine the immigration forms carefully to avoid a situation where a trader bringing in food or livestock for sell is penalized," he said.
Tanzania’s actions are against the spirit of the EAC Common Market, which came into force in 2010 and calls for free movement of goods and people across the region. If the matter remains unsolved, traders from both sides stand to incur losses.
According to Tony Nsanganira, head of agribusiness Rwanda Development Board, the government views horticulture as a key to diversifying exports in order to bridge the trade deficit by increasing foreign exchange earnings.
He added that Rwanda, currently rated by the World Bank as the most investment friendly in East Africa and third on the continent, has recorded an average of six per cent GDP in the past six years making it attractive to foreign investors.
To woo investors, the country has established a 24-hour one-stop-shop to register businesses, issue work permits and visas, offer banking, legal and statutory services in one office ran by the board.
“This has been one of our winning strategies as it saves investors valuable time,” he said.
Being a landlocked country makes shipping of fresh produce difficult, while the small volumes make airfreight costs too high.
“Airlines have said we must grow our volumes to bring down the cost of freight”, Mr Ethangatta said.
Civil Society Organisations need to develop a robust structure to enhance their involvement in the East African Community integration process so they can tap benefits, a government official has said.
Mr Osinde Owor, the assistant commissioner for community literacy and development in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, said uniting and developing a framework for effective dialogue would assist CSOs form a strong voice that would promote maintenance of peace, human rights and democracy in the region.
“Unity and networking will enable you (CSOs) benefit from the pool of funds and facilitate efficient lobbying and advocacy,” Mr Owor said.
He was officiating at the Concern For Children And Women Empowerment (COFCAWE) annual general meeting in Wakiso on Friday.
Efforts of NGO
COFCAWE, which operates in Gombe and Busukuma sub-counties, is implementing a gender integrated education programme on reproductive health, STDs and HIV/Aids to empower children of eight to 14 years and their families.
Mr Owor said a strong movement would also assist the country to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
COFCAWE chairperson John Kyakulaga said they have trained 1,492 peer educators on how to prevent risky sexual behaviour in communities between June 2011 and March 2012.
“Our involvement has caused positive attitude and behaviour change in Busukuma and Gombe sub-counties. The percentage of children abstaining from sex has increased from 42.5 per cent to 92.8 per cent,” Mr Kyakulaga said.
He said the percentage of children with adequate knowledge on their rights has also increased from 28.8 to 61.1 and the number of boda boda cyclists involved in drug and alcohol abuse has dropped,.
Mr Kyakulaga attributed the programme’s success to advocacy and networking, good psychosocial methodology, which empowers the people, and close working relationship with local governments, civic leaders and schools.
In the same meeting, members adopted a revised constitution and elected new leaders.
EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera, said that in the past WTO never recognized the community as a regional trading bloc but instead dealt with individual partner states.
"This is a huge achievement for the East African Community and individual member states as well," he said. Dr Sezibera was talking to the US Embassy in Tanzania Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr Robert Scott, who paid the former a visit at the EAC headquarters in Arusha.
The US official said he was impressed by several projects and programmes implemented by EAC and milestones so far achieved.
"A lot of things are happening in Arusha and the US government is committed to ensure things are going in the right direction in the integration efforts," he said.
He said his government values the existing relationship with EAC both at bilateral and regional levels. Dr Sezibera also hinted that the Soroti Civil Aviation Flying School in Uganda operated by EAC needs major funding and rehabilitation to resume operating at full capacity.
"The civil aviation centre has to be rescued to improve piloting and aerodrome training in the region," he said. The premises are in bad shape while training equipment and other necessary teaching and learning materials are lacking. To operate at capacity the regional aviation academy needs 17.5bn/- for basic rehabilitation and re-equipping the school.
Dr Sezibera noted that the aviation school was once the best in Africa in terms of producing experts at different levels in the aviation industry. He appealed to the US government to consider being part of the rescue efforts of the aviation academy.
Soroti’s training activities are also hampered by lack of training facilities. Training at night is now impossible due to lack of appropriate lighting.
Recently the academy acquired six new single-engine aircrafts for training. In another development, the Director of the 2nd African Affairs Division at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Shinichi Asazuma, assured the EAC chief on his country’s continued support to the community in infrastructure development.
He also briefed Dr Sezibera on the on-going preparation for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) V which will be held in June 2013 in Yokohama. The objective of the conference is to promote high level policy dialogue between African leaders and development partners.
Dr Sezibera hailed Japan for its support to EAC and its partner states in many diverse areas. He said that good infrastructure is critical in the success of the EAC integration process.
The slow implementation of the agreed-upon East African Community (EAC) protocols will be one of the main topics at a meeting of regional speakers which gets underway today in Kigali.
Lately, there have been numerous calls for partner states to execute the existing protocols, namely the Common Market and Customs Union.
The spirit in which these protocols were signed by the partner states was to encourage free movement of people, goods and services across the bloc. The focus on labour and trade is particularly relevant to EAC citizens.
Unfortunately, most member states are yet to appreciate the benefits presented by the integration, at least in practice. Most of them are dragging their feet even on issues that have already been agreed upon.
If the region is to genuinely tap into the opportunities and benefits of the EAC integration, with a market 134 million people, it is critical that individual member states recommit to the removal of non tariff barriers and to relax restrictions to free circulation of labour across the community.
The regional assembly, EALA, as well as national parliaments, should actively push for expedited enforcement of the existing instruments that enhance integration. As representatives of the people, MPs need to ensure that the EAC benefits the ordinary person.
Citizens, including professionals, traders and students should not be deprived of the socio-economic gains that come with the integration process.
Publicly, EAC leaders have backed a citizen-centred community. Yet there is still a huge discrepancy between these promises and the actual actions on the ground.
It’s high time leaders made EAC relevant to the people.
Written by New Times and Published by the RCSP Webmaster
Bureaucrats in East African Community (EAC) member states have been urged to pay equal attention to demands of employers instead of only entertaining grievances of workers through trade unions.The chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers, Mr Mussa Sirma, said there had been a tendency of ignoring the needs of the employers.
He was speaking at the launch of the East African Employers Organisation (EAEO) here.
“Employers have to be understood. Let us respect employers and the business community in general because they create jobs and wealth,” said Mr Sirma, who doubles as Kenya’s minister for EAC Affairs.
According to him, EAC believes that the private sector is the engine of growth in the region and is key in spearheading the integration efforts through the implementation of the common market protocol.
He urged government officials in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda to take the business sector players as partners in development and not sideline them on suspicion that they were only interested in profits.
EAEO chairperson Jacquiline Mugo said the organisation was aimed at defending the employers to enable them to play a key role in promoting industrial and labour relations and assisting the EAC on matters of wage levels and skills.
Association of Tanzania Employers executive director Aggrey Mlimuka said the organisation would engage the national employers’ bodies in East Africa on employment issues that relate to regional integration.
It will also promote, advocate and defend interests of the EA employers and provide a forum for representation and consultation between employer organisations and the EAC on labour relations issues.
Written by the Citizen and published by the RCSP Webmaster
Making the announcement to the CITIZEN over the weekend, Mr Adolf Olomi, the chairperson of TCCIA Arusha, said the project would look at challenges and opportunities in the implementation of the East African Common Market Protocol and Tanzania’s role in creating an attractive environment for increased private sector activity within and across the borders.
"We are looking at what can be done to increase gains while minimising losses from the arrangement," he said, adding that the study would develop a comprehensive policy paper that could spur Tanzania’s greater and effective participation in the implementation of the market protocol.
Mr Olomi disclosed that BEST-AC has financed the project and is offering technical assistance to ensure that the project succeeds.
BEST AC assists business organisations to create a better trade environment with grants, capacity-building and technical assistance so as to facilitate a successful dialogue with the government.
The TCCIA Arusha chairman said the study would also scrutinise the comparative advantages that Tanzania needs to capitalise on opportunities at the country’s disposal, to propel the economies of the EAC.
"It will identify opportunities and challenges available for Tanzania in the common market arrangement, assess the country’s quality of business environment for international trading competitiveness and identify key sectors which are important facilitators of integration and cooperation," Mr Olomi said.
THE Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), Dr Richard Sezibera, over the weekend received and held talks with a joint team of delegates from United Nations Agencies on HIV and AIDS co-sponsors.
At the meeting, the Secretary General underscored the need for the HIV and AIDS Co-sponsors to focus their support and cooperation on the areas which can add value at the national and regional levels, especially through design of better policies to shape HIV and AIDS responses.
The joint team represented UNAID, UNICEF, UNODC, UNFPA and IOM. Dr Sezibera also noted the importance of revising the Regional HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan (2008-2013) and aligning it with the current EAC Development Strategy of 2012-2016 as well as devoting resources to addressing HIV and AIDS.
"I believe it is possible for our region to have HIV and AIDS free generation if the right resources are invested in preventing it," said the Secretary General. He added that the biggest challenge facing Partner States was the issue of ownership in terms of preventing and responsiveness to HIV and AIDS.
The head of the visiting delegation Dr Mbulawa Mugabe, who is also Deputy Executive Director of the Joint United Nations’ Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) for Eastern and Southern Africa, said they were looking forward to working with the East African Community (EAC) secretariat.
The UNAIDS Executive also indicated that the possible areas of collaboration and support could be in policy harmonization and knowledge management. Dr Mugabe informed the Secretary General that the UN agencies were keen on supporting efforts to influence the leadership at the highest levels as a means of ensuring more resources are committed to HIV/AIDS initiatives.
Written by AllAfrica Tanzania Daily News and published by RCSP Webmaster
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have been called upon to influence policy formulation and implementation as they are in direct contact with the population.
This was said by Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) CEO Prof. Anastase Shyaka.
“Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are key ingredients in ensuring good governance and social development. They have direct contact with the people and this is why we should strengthen them in terms of influencing public policy,” Prof Shyaka said.
He said Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) has drawn strategies of empowering civil society organisations in terms of influencing public policy.
The move follows a government decision to make RGB a one-stop-centre for civil society and faith based organisations.
A recent assessment indicated that the CSOs influence public policies at a rate of 57 per cent but, according to Shyaka, this is not enough and his office intends to do everything to ensure that the rate increases.
Despite the fact that CSOs influence public policies at an average rate, their participation is still a little below as this scorecard puts it at 54.9 per cent.
“We want to have a visible figure in terms of Civil Society participation. Generally, the mission of CSOs is to ensure the betterment of the people and our mission is to create a partnership between the government and CSOs. We do this by ensuring that we give a better service to the CSOs,” said Shyaka.
Last year, RGB set up a steering committee made up of independent analysts to assess project proposals of CSOs of which Rwf 120 million was given to the best 14 CSOs that came up with the best project proposals.
“Our assistance to CSOs goes beyond financial help, we want to help them with ideas and encourage them to take a lead in the governance of the country so that the people they represent feel the ownership of the success stories in the country,” said the RGB boss.
He pointed out that there is an overwhelming will between the civil society and the government to partner and that this is a huge capital for national development.
Written by NewTimes and published by RCSP Webmaster
According to officials in the ministry, the policy was developed to
make the management of the integration process more efficient and
effective, and to ensure that it contributes to the country’s goal of
becoming a middle-income country by 2020. The regional and
international economic integration is the 6th pillar of Rwanda’s
"Along the process, there have been a multiplicity of challenges and
to adequately handle them there is a need of concerted efforts; thus
we established this policy," said Monique Mukaruliza, the minister of
East African Community Affairs.
Rwanda becomes the first country among other partner states that
including Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda to establish such a
Approved by the cabinet in February this year, the policy provides and
advocates for the active participation of the public, private sector,
civil society, and other stakeholders in determining the country’s
agenda in the integration process.
George William Kayonga, the permanent secretary in the ministry said
the policy recommends cooperation between his ministry and other
entities to ensure that regional integration is treated as a cross-
cutting issue within the country’s development agenda.
"We are going to hold discussion with districts to get some feedback
from them and also provide some inputs into their work plans so that
they can capture regional integration," he said.
An official statement from the EAC Secretariat said that the new co operation in trade between the US and EAC has been realised following a meeting that took place on Thursday 14th June on the sidelines of the AGOA Forum between the United States and the EAC Partner States in Washington, DC.
The new agreement was signed in the presence of Trade Ministers from the five EAC States as well as senior official’s from the Arusha’s secretariat. The official signing was graced by among other officials, the trade representative from the United States, Mr. Ron Kirk and the EAC Secretariat General Dr. Richard Sezibera.
The event was attended by the Burundian Commerce, Industry, Posts and Tourism Minister Victoire Ndikumana, the Kenyan Minister of Trade Mr Moses Wetang’ula, the Rwandan Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Francois Kanimba and the Tanzanian Minister for Industry, Trade and Marketing, Dr Abdullah Kigoda, as well as Amelia Kyambadde, the Ugandan Minister of Trade and Industry.
"Recognising the importance of strengthening the economic links between the United States and the East Africa, our governments jointly resolve to pursue a new trade and investment partnership between the United States and the EAC" said the ministers statement.
This new statement will be built on the foundations of our existing trade and investment relationship including, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the United States- EAC Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
Under this new partnership the two parties are expected to work together to provide new business opportunities to US and EAC firms by reducing trade barriers, improving the business environment, encouraging open investment regimes and enhancing our two- way trade.
The initial items we have agreed to explore under this new umbrella partnership include a regional investment treaty, a trade facilitation agreement, continued trade capacity building assistance, and a commercial dialogue, added the statement. These agreements and other activities to be pursued will help to promote the EAC regional integration, economic growth, and expand and diversity US-EAC trade and investment. They could also serve as building blocks torwards a more comprehensive trade agreement over the long term.
The ministers in- charge have already directed their respective technical teams led by the EAC to engage as soon as possible to begin consultations on each of the areas we have agreed upon. " We have full confidence that together, we can build a stronger US-EAC trade and investment partnership for the benefit of the American and East African People", assured the ministers in the Joint statement.
Could you tell us about the East African Tourism Platform?
It is a forum for the tourism private sector bodies in the five member states of the East African Community (EAC)—Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi—where we can meet, discuss and address issues of common interest.
When was it formed?
This is an idea which was developed in April last year (2011) but through discussions and initiatives; it was formerly established in April 2012.
How many members do you have so far?
We have five members. In each country, there is a private sector body that represents all the private tourism operators and it is this body that represents their interests on the regional platform.
What issues do you intend to address through this platform for the sake of building a coherent regional tourism sector?
All the five countries have problems of marketing promotion and this is an issue we want to address. We have problems of standards and the quality of services and we want to address this. We all have issues related to policies and regulations and we want to address them. We all promote tourism but how do we combine similar products and promote them as one package? In Tanzania we have Safari to Serengeti National Park and in Rwanda there is gorilla trekking so how can we combine these two products and sell them as one? So there are many issues we can address together as a business community.
What’s your approach towards addressing these issues?
We just started; we have not gone into the details of these issues. It is only recently that we formed a secretariat and we have employed a staff. But our approach will be to identify the obstacles in each partner state and then see how we can develop a common approach to deal with the identified issues using our own contacts but also using the EAC process.
The tourism sector in some member states is more developed than in others. Examples could be Rwanda and Burundi which have potential but they still lack critical skills in order to fully exploit their potentials. How will this platform help to bring them on the level of other member states to ensure an equal development?
Through the platform, members will be able to take advantage of certain skills and practices in other member states that have done extremely well in some areas. If we believe that Rwanda has a product but it faces challenges of developing it, we are not politicians, we are business people, we can come in and help to develop and promote it as well. We will also confront governments and politicians to try and address certain internal issues for the benefit of the tourism sector not only in that particular country but for the entire region.
Can you elaborate on how you intend to deal with skills shortage in Rwanda in particular because it is one of the biggest challenges currently the hospitality business faces?
Skills development is one is one of the issues we discussed as private operators. We don’t have institutions to train but we can initiate exchange programs for example people working in the hotel business in Rwanda can go and work in the same area in Kenya and the same can happen between Tanzanian and Rwanda. With such an approach, we can allow people to transfer skills from one member state to another. We can also try to promote certain training institutions to offer the needed trainings.
The planned issuance of a single tourist visa across the five partner states is still pending. As private operators, are you losing anything, or do you really want this visa to be issued?
Currently, it does not really affect us but by having a single tourist visa, it will be easier for the visitors to access our products. Through this platform, we want to try and put pressure on the governments to give it a try because at the end of the day, the more numbers of tourists, the more all countries benefit. There are more benefits in having the single visa than not having it.
Why is it still pending then?
The challenges are the income which goes to the government and how it will be divided among the partner states and this is a big challenge. Another challenge is how ready is each country in terms of its systems to facilitate the whole visa-checking system. Countries must have harmonized systems.
Do you see challenges along the way as you try to develop a coherent East African tourism sector?
There are challenges of inward looking in some countries and there are challenges of competition, and challenges of fear in some states thinking that if they open up, they will be swallowed by other states. But I think with time, through this platform we can discuss these issues openly and address them.
Experts have blamed member states for indifference in the implementation of key aspects of the regional integration process.
They say apart from Rwanda, the other four member states have been slow in the implementation of key agreements of the protocol and in the pace of free movement of goods, services, persons and capital. This has also deprived East Africans of the right to freely settle and live where they wish and establish enterprises where they want in the regional bloc.
One major setback, the experts further argue, has been the partner states’ failure to honour their obligations to review their domestic legislation and ensure compliance with the protocol. This has largely been caused by unfounded fears of job losses, undermining local economic competitiveness, surrendering key assets like land and hosting criminals and other wanted persons.
“Despite the endorsement of the Common Market Protocol, the reality of free movement of goods, capital and labour across the partner states is far from being achieved for EAC nationals. For example, there is slow progress on the implementation of commitments related to the removal of non-tariff barriers (NTBs). Moreover, mechanisms to monitor the implementation of the Common Market Protocol are weak or absent in the regional bloc,” cautions World Bank regional trade specialist Paul Brenton.
Mr Hussein Kamote of the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) said time for making endless excuses among the partner states in the implementation of the protocol’s key issues had elapsed.
According to the figures he gave, Tanzania’s exports to other partner states increased from $96.4 million in 2005 to $450 million in 2010 having a surplus of 59.5 per cent in the same year. Intra-regional trade grew from $2.2 billion in 2005 to $3.6 billion in 2009 but accounted for only 9.5 per cent of the total EAC export trade.
The Council of Ministers is the EAC’s policy making organ.
“The secretariat will prepare the document and give it to the attorneys general to scrutinise and then send to us to forward to the summit,” Monique Mukaruliza the Minister of East African Community Affairs told The New Times.
She said the attorney generals will discuss all intricacies involved in the process to extend jurisdiction.
The minister further clarified that the court would also be empowered to handle cases forwarded from national courts.
“If it fails to handle a regional case, then it (case) will be forwarded to the international courts.”
The Council of Ministers also directed the Sectoral Council on Legal and Judicial Affairs to meet by the end of July 2012 to consider the technical paper and thereafter report to the Council’s 25th Ordinary Meeting.
At their April meeting, the EAC Heads of State welcomed a resolution by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) to expedite the amendment of the EAC Treaty that extends the jurisdiction of the EACJ or the conclusion of the protocol on the said matter and consequently directed the Council of Ministers to see to its implementation and report to an extraordinary Summit.
The East African Court of Justice was established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. Its major responsibility is to ensure adherence to the law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the Treaty.
However, the court has faced frequent criticism for failure to handle international criminal cases especially the current case at the international criminal court that implicates four senior Kenyan government officials accused of inciting the 2007/08 post-election violence.
If amended, the court would have powers to try genocide related cases as well as other criminal cases.
The East African Legislative Assembly had earlier proposed the regional court handles the Kenyan post-election violence cases, a suggestion which was nonetheless watered down by the association of regional lawyers.
East African Law Society vice president James Mwamu recently said the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has no jurisdiction to handle such cases.
"The EACJ has no jurisdiction whatsoever to deal with criminal matters and the move by the legislative assembly to pass that motion is absolutely illegitimate," said Mwamu.
The court also has jurisdiction to hear and determine disputes between the EAC Secretariat and its employees that arise from the terms and conditions of employment or the interpretation and application of staff rules and regulations.
Published on the RCSP Website
As articulated in Rwanda’s long-term development programme, Vision 2020, the policy is part of the sixth pillar which focuses on regional and international economic integration.
It ensures an open, liberal trade regime, minimising barriers to trade as well as implementing policies to encourage foreign direct investment, adopting policies to promote competitive enterprises, exports and entrepreneurship, economic zones for ICT-based production in trade and commerce.
The national policy is seen as a significant instrument that has come at the right time, when the local population is trying to venture into the regional market.
Monique Mukaruliza, the Minister of EAC Affairs, believes it was prudent for Rwandans to have a policy that would help them realise and benefit from the integration process.
“This policy will enhance the way we implement our cooperation agreement with EAC partner states. For Rwandans to benefit from the integration they need to first understand the entire of EAC, opportunities, obligations and others, that’s why we initiated this national policy to guide them,” she said.
The minister further urged nationals to think regionally as it will help them reap from the integration process.
“Rwandans should think in the regional context...first they should know that their market is a population of 133.1 million people and not 11 million, the country’s population,” she said.
This, Mukaruliza said, calls for provision of quality products that can compete favourably on the regional market.
Current figures show that Rwanda’s exports to EAC partner states increased by 68.3 percent, from $14.38 million in the fourth quarter of 2010 to $24.19 million in the same quarter in 2011 according to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR).
Michael Muhire, a local trader welcomed the policy, saying it would not only help spur the national’s wellbeing but also accelerate the country’s economy.
“We needed such documents to guide us towards effective exploitation of the integration process,” he said.
Muhire further mentioned that it was a great opportunity for the government to establish the policy adding that what is needed is for all Rwandans to embrace integration.
“What I realized is that we must be aggressive to manage competition with other players in the region. I have done it and my products are favourably competing with Ugandan, Kenyan and Tanzanian products”, Muhire who deals in food products said.
“There has been much progress”, says Aidan Eyakuze, Director of programs at the SID when presenting the report. First, he mentions the EAC is becoming more and more a regional bloc that draws the world’s attention. He cites countries such as southern Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia that have already expressed their interest for membership within the East African community.
Secondly, trade between the EAC partner states with the rest of the world has increased: "intra-regional trade increased from 2.2 billion us $ in 2005 to 4.1 billion in 2010." EAC trade with the rest of the world has indeed increased by 17.5 billion in 2005 to 37 billion in 2010. "The other element that shows the performance of the EAC, according to Mr. Eyakuze, is the influx of foreign direct investment. »The flow of foreign direct investment increased from 688 million dollars in 2000 to 1.7 billion in 2010," he said.
And he mentions a few champions of business in East Africa. Eyakuze also refers to the development of infrastructures: "There is Namanga - Athi River Road, a project of road development, which began in 2006, coordinated by ECA and funded by ADB (African Development Bank)." The cross-border electrification program allows Kenya to supply Namanga ( Tanzania) with electricity while Tanzania is already benefiting from electricity coming from Lunga - Lunga power plant.» This is in addition to the water and sanitation program on Lake Victoria, supported also by the ADB and whose main objective is the improvement of water and sanitation of the 15 cities selected around the Lake Victoria basin.
In addition, Mr. Eyakuze stressed the importance of the convergence of policies between the partner states. "Efforts to increase enrolment at the first level through universal primary education programs have been made through the whole EAC region." "And their investments in health have increased between 2000 and 2009," he said.
The challenges are growing
Even if the benefits of integration are huge within the EAC region, the same progress report indicates that challenges remain an issue of concern in the community. Among other challenges, the Director of programs at the SID mentions poverty affecting a large part of the East – African population and food insecurity: "poverty remains at high levels, with 53 million Africans living below poverty line in 2010.In addition, food security remains a chronic problem throughout the whole the region” Burundi has the highest percentage of children who display growth delays in 2010 (58%). "According to him, the rapid population growth impedes poverty reduction efforts. »Between 2005 and 2010, the region’s population increased $ by 24 million. "In 2030, the population of the East Africa will represent 40% of the total population of sub-Saharan Africa", he says.
Other challenges, presented by Mr. Eyakuze, are related to the development of informal trade and he also mentions that highly qualified African is to flee to the West, etc.
With all these challenges, Mr. Eyakuze calls the entire population of the EAC to get involved: "all citizens must learn about the opportunities and the challenges of regional integration because the latter concern all of them." It is the integration of the peoples and not only Governments. "To this end, he stressed the importance of negotiations between countries on these challenges to strengthen regional integration.
The English language, a challenge for Burundi
Apart from the challenges mentioned by Mr. Aidan Eyakuze, Burundian civil society, traders and other participants, mentioned the challenge of the English language used as the official language within the EAC. A former employee in the Senate of Burundi gave, as an example, the case of Burundian senators, invited to a meeting in Nairobi. The Burundian delegation boycotted the meeting because they alleged English had been imposed as the sole working language in the workshop. Negotiating the use of the French language in the community has been one of the recommendations made by the majority of participants to the attention of the Ministry in charge of the East African community affairs.
About informal trade which is also perceived as a challenge within EAC, Burundian traders accuse the Government of applying high tariffs. "The rates which are charged for non- exempted goods seem to be 47% of the goods total value." "Surely, very few can afford these high prices”, indicates Polycarpe Kubwayo, Executive Secretary of the association of Burundian cross-border traders. And he goes on to clarify that even some of his colleagues have already fled the country: "Some went to Mozambique, where the fees are not as high as is the case in Burundi." This trader regrets the fact that the Burundi Revenue Authority does not display its rates so that traders may know how much they must pay exactly. "The rates are opaque! » he concludes.
Mr. Musyoka noted that there is urgent need to address the issue of non-tariff barriers so that movement of people and services between member states are not impeded.
He said full economic integration of the region will help in economic growth, particularly through cross border investments.
The Vice President made the remarks Wednesday at his Jogoo House Office when he received Kenya Members to the East Africa Legislative Assembly who paid him a courtesy call.
The legislators were led by the East Africa Minister, Moses Sirma, EALA Kenya Chapter Chairman, Joseph Kiangoi and the Permanent Secretary Ministry of East African Community, Dr. David Nalo.
Mr. Musyoka congratulated the members for their elections and urged them to represent the country with dedication irrespective of the political parties they were nominated from.
Responding to their request, the Vice President assured them that he fully supports the Cabinet document that seeks to place the membership under authority of Parliament instead of directly being answerable to Executive.
Mr. Musyoka expressed confidence that soon the Southern Sudan would be accepted as a member of the East African Community.
"I call on you to support the efforts made by the new Sothern Sudan to join the community, I know Somalia too will be part of as soon as it realizes full political stability. I am also aware that Republic of Comoros is also interested in the regional bloc," he said.
Mr. Sirma said the government is in the process of tabling Cabinet document that would facilitate the members to work efficiently through adequate funding and separation of powers between executive and the legislature.
Mr. Kiangoi assured that the legislators would work to the best interests of the region and Kenya in particular.
The Chairman appealed for adequate funding to the legislators operations, stressing the need for placing EALA members under authority of Parliament just as any other legislators.
The legislators were Abisae Nancy, Abdi Ogle, Mumbi Ngaru, Sara Godana and Peter Muthuki.
Source: Kenya Broadcast Corporation
The negotiating team known as the High Level Task Force (HLTF) will, over the six-day period, discuss outstanding matters in Articles 1-59 of the draft EAMU Protocol and negotiate draft Articles 60-72.
The draft Protocol contains 86 Articles in total.
The HLTF comprises senior officials from the Partner States’ Ministries of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, East African Community Affairs, as well as central banks, capital markets authorities, insurance and pensions regulatory agencies, and national statistics offices.
The draft provisions the HLTF will cover three broad areas, namely- financial arrangements, integrated financial management systems, and transitional arrangements.
Specifically, articles to be debated include those legislating the funding and operations of the proposed East African Central Bank, harmonisation of accounting and reporting standards, establishment of the proposed East African Monetary Institute, as well as the schedule and timetable for establishment of the Monetary Union.
Previous rounds of negotiations deliberated on provisions touching on, among others, the scope of the monetary union; macroeconomic policy framework; monetary policy framework, exchange rate policy and exchange rate mechanism, and instruments of monetary control.
The negotiations commenced in January 2011 and are targeted to be concluded this year.
The process for the establishment of the East African Monetary Union is underpinned by Articles 5 and 82 of the EAC Treaty where, among others, the Partner States undertake to establish a monetary union and to co-operate in monetary and fiscal matters.
The primary rationale for a monetary union is to reduce the costs and risks of transacting business across the national boundaries of those countries which comprise the union.
By embracing a single currency, EAC Partner States would remove the costs of having to transact in different currencies and the risk of adverse exchange rate movements for traders and travellers alike within the region.
It is envisaged that the EAMU will deepen the integration of East African economies and, in doing so, enhance the benefits which can be derived from the EAC Common Market.
To enrich the negotiations, the EAC commissioned various studies, which included among others a study on the review of the EAC macroeconomic convergence criteria; and one on a harmonized monetary policy framework for the region, both done jointly by the EAC and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The draft final reports of both studies are due for review by the Sectoral Council on Finance and Economic Affairs (SCFEA) in September 2012 before they are forwarded to the HLTF.
Source: The Guardian Tanzania
Rwanda was elected by 148 member states as Africa’s representative to the non-permanent seat on the Security Council.
While opening the EAC youth ambassadors’ training workshop in Arusha, Tanzania yesterday, EAC Deputy Secretary General (Political Federation) Julius Tangus Rotich said that Africa has had a long history of conflicts and that the UN seat would help address such problems.
"We surely know that Rwanda will represent our interests in the best way possible," he said.
Rotich decried the emergence of conflicts mainly fuelled by mineral resources and bad governance on the continent, and called for cohesion if Africa is to be driven to first world status.
"Let us make a difference by avoiding conflicts, both verbal and armed, and focus on development," he urged the youth.
He called on the participants o play their rightful role in ensuring that EAC integration continues to be a people-driven process.
The workshop trainer Ambassador Jeremy Ndayiziga observed that the integration process is still hampered by lack of implementation of agreed on decisions.
Article 120 (C) of the EAC Treaty provides for adoption of a common approach to involvement of the youth in the integration process through education, training and mainstreaming youth issues into EAC policies, programmes and projects as one of the strategic interventions.
The transaction, mobilizing significant financial resources in the East African Community (EAC), will support capital market development, government revenue generation and foreign exchange, ultimately stimulating economic development and employment opportunities in the region.
Established in 1967 under the terms of the Treaty for East African Cooperation, EADB is a sub-regional multilateral lender based in Kampala, Uganda, and operating in the EAC. Its member states include Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. EADB’s interventions mainly take the form of loans, leases and equity participations.
The project will help EADB consolidate the gains of its successful restructuring program. It will assist the current business strategy of the bank by strengthening its capital base. This is a crucial condition for mobilizing financial resources from capital markets at more affordable terms and meeting the growing demand for investment in the EAC. In particular, in addition to providing fresh resources to EADB, the project is expected to contribute to improve the quality of the callable capital of the bank, which is a major factor driving its credit rating. A technical assistance package, financed by the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA), to reinforce institutional capacity at EADB would complement the proposed equity investment.
By partnering with EADB, AfDB will exploit synergies stemming from complementary sources of comparative advantage. EADB, with its field presence and local knowledge of the EAC market, provides a logical conduit for AfDB to reach out to end-customers, including SMEs, by efficiently leveraging its scale. From this perspective, the project is aligned with AfDB’s East African Integration Strategy, with its focus on sub-regional development finance institutions, as well as with the key pillars of AfDB’s forthcoming Long-Term Strategy, particularly private sector development and regional integration.
The East African Law Society (EALS) sued the Uganda Government accusing it of offending human rights under Uganda’s Constitution and the EAC treaty by suppressing Ugandan’s rights while quelling down the riots in 2011.
The complainants contend that the actions of the agents of the Government of Uganda on various groups of citizens who decided to walk to work in protest against the high cost of fuel, transport and living were brutal.
The Attorney General of Uganda and the Secretary General of the East African Community are the respondents in the case filed by the regional bar association.
The Attorney General Peter Nyombi represented by Principal State Attorney Phillip Mwaka, asked Court to dismiss the application with costs on grounds that, the evidence adduced before the Court was sufficient and it was enough to prove any grounds raise in the reference.
Farmers have often been at the mercy of middlemen, who defraud them due to lack of information about markets for their produce.
A commodities market will bring together multiple wholesale buyers and sellers where raw or primary products are traded on regulated exchanges in which they are bought and sold in standardised contracts.
“The local farmers will benefit in terms of improved prices for their produce, unlike in the past when they were exorbitantly cheated by middlemen connecting them to buyers since most farmers are ignorant about market prices,” said Kaliza Karuretwa, the director-general of trade and investment in the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
She added that the commodities exchange will not eliminate middlemen but they will work in a more organised manner, governed by rules and regulations.
Rwanda also hopes to use the exchange to attract trading of commodities from the region.
The Trade ministry, which has been mandated to establish the market, is working with the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE) to draft the appropriate regulations and technology that will guide the operations of trading in commodities.
It is also looking for space and manpower.
Unlike exchange markets such as the Ethiopian one that mandates commodity exporters to trade through the platform, market forces of demand and supply will drive the proposed Rwandan market.
Local commodity providers will be given the option to either trade from within the platform or outside the market.
The government has been working closely with Ethiopia and an American firm, East African Commodities Exchange Ltd but it prefers the latter.
“The American company follows the universal model of free market, unlike Ethiopia, and they are also willing to partner with the technology providers NAZDA, which operates some of the biggest exchanges in the world such as the New York Stock Exchange,” added Ms Karuretwa.
Rwanda has nonetheless picked lessons from Ethiopia’s case study, such as mobilising the traders in form of restructuring how trading is done, as well as post-harvest handling and grading of commodities to give them quality standards.
The Ministry of Agriculture is trying to identify products that will be traded in the first phase and most likely they include Rwanda’s most exported cash crops, which are coffee, tea and beans.
Coffee and tea are Rwanda’s second- and third-ranked foreign exchange earners, respectively, after tourism.
The commodity market will supplement the capital market in Rwanda’s relatively nascent financial market.
It will develop a binding legal mechanism, use cargo tracking systems and single window schemes to that effect, EAC secretary general Richard Sezibera said.
“Ministerial visits to the ports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa last year and the subsequent report to the Chair of the Summit during 2012 undoubtedly instilled within all of us a sense of urgency to deal with this issue,” he said.
NTBs have been blamed for hampering the region’s economic integration despite efforts to eliminate them. They are also seen as impeding the implementation of the East African Common Market Protocol.
EAC also intends to conclude negotiations of a single customs territory, an internationalisation of the East African passport and a single tourist visa and the liberalisation of the East African airspace.
EAC’s pledge to tackle NTBs is the second to be made in less than a year. The first one was made during the unveiling of the 2012/13 EAC annual budget in May last year.
The then chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers, Mr Mussa Sirma, stated that legislation would be used to remove the barriers which retard the regional trade.
NTBs or restrictions other than customs duties or tariffs or are also blamed for making importation and exportation of products difficult and costly.
Meanwhile, Dr Sezibera has confirmed that all articles on the envisaged East African Monetary Union have been negotiated “at the technical level”.
However, he did not say when the process would be completed.
For the past two years, EAC officials have maintained that talks on the monetary union would be concluded at the end of last year.
The negotiations started in 2011 and have been spearheaded by a task force composed of senior officials from the EAC member states: Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda.
He explained that the community last year established an Open Health Initiative under EAC’s Health Department to accelerate the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals in the region.
Ambassador Richard Sezibera, the EAC secretary general, noted that collaborative efforts between governments in the region with the private sector are necessary to bring down costs of production, making goods and services competitive on the global markets.
“‘I am glad that several projects aimed at building a reliable transport and power supply capacity across the region are currently underway,” Sezibera said at a luncheon at the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) show grounds in Kampala.
“I am also glad to inform you that the EAC has a Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan of Action for 2012-2016, which guides the partner states towards evolving an efficient and effective pharmaceutical manufacturing industry,” he added.
The action plan sets out approaches for production and distribution affordable drugs for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Rwanda had the highest per capita spend on health in 2010 at $48 (sh127,200) per person each year, closely followed by Uganda at $43, with Kenya and Tanzania spending $33 and $25 per person respectively.
The US has the highest per capita spend on health at $8,362 (sh22m) per person each year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) data. Burma (Myanmar), Pakistan, and Qatar spend only $4 (sh10,600) per person each year.
Local production of vital drugs should lead to lower cost of healthcare and a more efficient workforce as the region moves toward middle-income status.
Sezibera said EAC partner states are expected to come up with strategies for formalising the inter-agency approach at the EAC regional level to establish a legal and regulatory framework for the protection of intellectual property and the elimination of counterfeit products.
He noted that manufacturing offers a wide range of opportunities in the EAC partner states and that heads of states across the region have expressed commitment to the development of the sector through promotion of micro, small and medium sized enterprises.
Burundi registered the highest share of contribution to GDP by industry at 13.4% in 2011, up from 12.8% the previous year, with Uganda registering an 8.5% jump from 7.6% in 2010.
Sezibera said local manufacturers should take advantage of opportunities in the pharmaceutical, beverage, vehicle spare-parts production and assembling as the EAC integrates deeper.
Source: Trade Mark East Africa Website
It is predicted that once the Secretariat becomes a commission, member states would be obliged to implement the decisions agreed upon by the community, or be reprimanded as is the case with the European Union.
The failure to implement decisions, especially the Common Market protocol, has slowed integration process since countries still prefer protecting their national interests instead of relinquishing some sovereignty.
EALA members speaks out
Fred Mukasa Mbidde (Uganda), a member of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), said before other decisions are taken it was imperative to immediately transform the secretariat into a commission, adding it doesn’t benefit the citizens to have the protocols and decisions which are not implemented.
“The secretariat is like a dog that cannot bark or bite its now working as a messenger who only gets busy when told to. We need enforcing mechanism and partner states must cede some powers, that’s how the community shall fully benefit from the integration,” he said.
Sheikh Abdul Karim Harerimana (Rwanda) also stressed the need for a commission.
“We want the commission with real powers because we need protocols to be enforced. The commission will help us in resolving all the challenges we have in implementing decisions, meaning that we shall have the powers to reprimand the partner state that will fail to execute the protocols,” Harerimana said.
However, speaking in Kigali, last week, EALA Speaker Margret Zziwa said although there is need to transform the Arusha-based EAC secretariat into a commission it would be impossible to achieve it unless the region politically federates.
“This would be a desirable position if we have reached the fully fledged political federation level that would help in the perspective of actualising or giving powers of implementation. But as of now we are still using the good will of all the partner states,” she said.
Zziwa said they will continue to remind partner states to implement the agreed protocols and other decisions for the benefit of the community.
The political federation is the fourth and last step in the bloc’s integration process after the customs union, monetary union, whose negotiations are equally still underway, as well as common market protocol that was signed in 2009.
However, it means that if the community is to wait for the federation to transform the secretariat, the challenges of implementing decisions will remain, observers say.
During the EAC Heads of State Summit in Burundi, in November 2011, the Council of Ministers requested the Arusha Secretariat to undertake a study on the reforms and submit its findings.
The partner states are now awaiting the formal proposal of reforms on how the new commission would be constituted, as well as the terms of reference from the secretariat, before deciding to approve the mode of restructuring.
The Council of Ministers is the policy organ of the community which consists of ministers responsible for EAC affairs from each of the five partner states.
Observers say the bloc has achieved little since the Heads of State signed the Common Market Protocol in November 2009 to facilitate the free movement of goods, labour and capital, with a view of creating a more favourable business atmosphere.
Source: NewTimes Rwanda
Addressing the Media Fraternity at the Commemoration of World Press Freedom Day this morning at the Naura Springs Hotel in Arusha, Tanzania, the Secretary General said that the media had both the power and responsibility to get the region to embrace regional integration with passion. ‘’You have the duty to tell the true story of our region and promote our collective desire for peace, security and development”, noted Amb. Sezibera.
The Secretary General observed that as the regional integration process intensifies, EAC will be challenged more and more to achieve and demonstrate greater efficiency, effectiveness and visibility of its programmes. Often it is claimed that regional integration, except where sensitive issues arise therein or therefrom, is not a romantic subject that is saleable but we as a Community have many ongoing positive developments taking place that are usually out of “mwananchi’s” understanding, said the EAC official.
Amb Sezibera reiterated to the media fraternity that they have capacity and responsibility to synthesize and digest the Treaty and Protocols into user friendly languages that the Common “Mwananchi” can understand and report on stories that often go unseen by the average person.
The EAC Chief asserted that media as custodians of the truth, should act as champions of the EAC integration, educate the citizenry on the integration process in order to realize a people-cantered integration that will come up with more press freedom.
The Secretary General paid tribute to the media in the Eastern Africa region, which in the recent years has become more vibrant and diverse and has shown potential of taking lead in the region and beyond. He said the region recognizes the importance of having free, independent and diverse media. He concurred with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
Speaking about the challenges facing media industry in the region, Amb. Sezibera said “I am aware that the Media in East Africa is coupled with deteriorating working conditions, resulting in systematic threats to freedom of information, freedom of expression and the physical wellbeing of journalists’’. He noted that according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) this trend "may be jeopardizing the media’s role as a watchdog for society. In order to nurture a Pan-East African media, governments and private sector have the responsibility to invest in the local media and help raise their professional and ethical standards, added Amb. Sezibera
Amb Sezibera urged the media to take deliberate interest in the EAC integration agenda and pursue innovative ways and means of presenting it in captivating ways to its audiences.
The commemoration of World Press Freedom Day was attended by Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), Union of Tanzania Press Clubs (UTPC), Tanzania Media Fund (TMF), Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF), Media Owners Association of Tanzania (MOAT), Tanzania Citizens Information Bureau (TCIB), the East African Journalist Association (EAJA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization representative..
About World Press Freedom Day
Every year, May 3rd is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
3 May was proclaimed World Press Freedom Day by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. It is a date to encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom, and to assess the state of press freedom worldwide.
Source: EAC website
The Transport Observatory Project (TOB) designed by the Central Corridor Transport Facilitation Agency (CCTFA) was launched on Wednesday in Tanzania to streamline the route where a quarter of East Africa’s total trade passes.
TOB involves government and private transport actors.
"This marks a critical new phase in upgrading a key route for East African Trade by identifying and mapping all unnecessary barriers to free flowing trade to create a platform that policy makers can use to overturn these obstacles," Rukia Shamte, the executive secretary of CCTFA, said at the launch.
The development comes at a time when the region’s economy is surging and the need for smooth trade becoming more important.
The central corridor connects the east African hinterland to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam. A similar initiative was last year established on the northern corridor that connects Mombasa port. According to the beneficiaries, the project has tremendously improved transportation of goods.
Theodore Murenzi, the secretary-general of Rwanda Truckers’ Association, said as truck drivers they were optimistic about the new scheme. He said the time of transportation on northern corridor has reduced ever since the introduction of Transport Observatory Project. "The weighing bridges were reduced from eight to five between Mombasa port and Malaba with plans to decrease them to two. This has simplified movement; in our business, time is money and we hope that the new project on central corridor will also be of great significance," Murenzi said.
Rwanda depends on both Mombasa and Dar ports for imports and exports. According to Murenzi, Tanzania has committed to reduce the weigh bridges. Currently, trucks have to stop at about seven weighbridges from Dar port to Nyakahura at Kagera River on the border between Rwanda and Tanzania.
The new project will continuously monitor the performance along the Central Corridor by identifying total time delays from all possible causes as a means towards establishing an evidence-based regional platform that can be used by the Central Corridor Transport Facilitation Agency as well as by the region’s policy makers.
The delays will be analysed using indicators of cause, location, date, time of day as well as parameters such as direction of travel, origin of vehicles and types of cargo. Information from this process will be disseminated to partner states through various government agencies, private sector and civil society organisations as well as the media, to inform decision making, problem solving and policy formulation on the Central Corridor’s performance.
The data will provide informed and evidence-based opportunities for the development and implementation of policies to resolve these delays for cost effective operations.
The project is supported by TradeMark East Africa (TMEA). "TMEA is proud to be associated with this project. All evidence shows that where trade flourishes, prosperity does too and this is a key step to streamlining the Central Corridor on which so many businesses and lives depend," said Scott Allen, the TMEA deputy chief executive.
The programme, dubbed ‘East African Community (EAC) Legislative Compliance’ intends to identify legal instruments and obligations signed by Rwanda that may require reform of the local laws before their ratification.
Speaking at the launch of the programme, the Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, John Gara, said membership of the EAC has resulted into Rwanda entering into a wide range of obligations which require some changes in some national laws.
An initial review conducted by the Commission identified about 250 obligations that may call for a legislative review.
“From now to September we are going to go through all these obligations and identify the priority ones. However, some of them may require us to amend some existing laws, others may not require anything while there are also those that may require enactment of new laws,” said Gara.
He pointed out that his office has a mandate of ensuring that Rwanda’s legislative framework is compliant with its international obligations, including those of the EAC.
“This compliance programme provides us with a huge opportunity through regional integration to achieve our national targets like Vision 2020 and the EDPRS 2,” said Gara.
He added that; “on the one hand, we are seeing opportunities by taking on this new course but, again, its an obligation to us to do it.”
The programme is partly sponsored by Trade Mark East Africa and, according to its country manager, Mark Priestley, for any country that would want to benefit from regional integration there is need to harmonise its laws with regional protocols.
“Prioritising this programme allows Rwanda to position itself more strategically be strategic in regional integration. For example, Rwanda being a landlocked country realised that there is need to build a strong service industry; all this fits well with this new initiative,” said Priestley.
He pointed out that the advantage so far is that Rwanda has a strong political will regarding regional integration and that favours the process of harmonising of local laws with regional instruments.
Source: Trademark website
Published by the RCSP Webmaster
This year’s theme is: "The EAC we want. Focusing on the Quick Wins" The first Forum was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 11-12 December, 2012.
EAC-SG Forum is to provide a platform for regular dialogue between the EAC Secretary General and the private sector and civil society on how to improve the EAC integration process for the faster development of the region.
The experts also deliberated on the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the National and Regional Dialogue Committees and considered the draft Rules of Procedure for the EAC-SG’s Forum.
"The main objective of the Forum is to allow selected stakeholders and the EAC to consult and work towards realizing the Community’s objectives and promote a people-centred integration process," said Mary Makoffu, EAC Director of Social Sectors on behalf of the EAC Deputy Secretary General in Charge of Productive and Social Sectors Hon. Jesca Eriyo.
She added that Regional Dialogue Committee for the 2nd EAC-SG Forum would meet in September to put final touches to the October Nairobi hosted conference.
Earlier in her opening remarks, the Chairperson of the meeting, Ronah Serwadda, Commissioner in the Uganda EAC ministry, said that the annual SG’s Forum was crucial in the deepening and widening regional integration.
"It enables stakeholders to hold direct dialogue with the EAC Chief Executive in pushing ahead our regional agenda," she told the experts from the Partner States.
The meeting, which was facilitated by the German International Development Agency (GIZ), was attended by Partner States representatives for EAC Affairs, private sector and civil society organizations and the EAC Secretariat.
Source: EAC Website
Published by the RCSP Webmaster
The Heads of State, EAC
The Speaker, East African Legislative Assembly (EALA)
Hon. Members of EALA
The President, East African Court of Justice
The Council of Ministers
The Secretary General, EAC
Your Excellencies, Rt. Hon. Speaker, Hon. Ministers, Hon. Members of EALA and fellow citizens of the EAC Partner States,
The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights prescribes that “Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status” (Art,2).
It further covenants that “The mass expulsion of non-nationals shall be prohibited. Mass expulsion shall be that which is aimed at national, racial, ethnic or religious groups” (Art. 12 (5).
The Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community, which was signed in November 1999 and came into force in July 2000, espouses: …” adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice”, as some of the main criteria for admission into EAC membership ( Article 3.3a)
In the Common Market Protocol (Art 7), EAC Partner States guaranteed the free movement of persons who are citizens of the other Partner States, within their territories and covenanted that each Partner State shall ensure non‐discrimination of citizens of other Partner States based on their nationalities.
According to eye witnesses who reported to EACSOF, by August 13 2013, more than 7,000 people of Rwandan ancestry had been forced out of Tanzania. Elderly women are being rounded up at gun point with nothing on them, and forced out to the Rwanda-Tanzania border. The children they had with Tanzania men are remaining, because the children are Tanzanian and not their mother. The same thing is happening to men married to Tanzanian women.
Those being forced out include unemployed youths born in Tanzania, but have Rwandan origins; women and men who left Rwanda as babies in 1959; babies and teenagers born in Tanzania; elderly women/men who crossed into Karagwe long before Tanzania was born.
According to press reports, people claiming to represent Tanzanian government are holding meetings with local leaders from which a simple message is given: “ALL RWANDANS OUT”. First, the targeted people are forced to give up their official Tanzanian documents, and since they no longer have documents, everything is taken.
It is incomprehensible that such actions, which are in gross contravention of the Tanzanian Constitution, Tanzania Citizenship Act (1995), The EAC Treaty and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights can take place at this stage of East African integration.
EACSOF therefore appeals to His Excellency, President Kikwete to come to the urgent rescue of these people whose identity has been stripped from them and with it, fundamental rights plundered!
Justice will only be seen to have been done with immediate stoppage of evictions, unconditional redress for victimized people to help them recover their right of residence, family life and property and nothing less.
The council would be part of the efforts by the member states to create a single government with one leader under the political federation framework, according to Charles Njoroge, deputy secretary general (political federation) of the EAC.
“We are looking to achieve a political federation and we are on course towards its implementation. But we are considering having a security council that will arbitrate any matters of political consequence that will arise within the region,” said Njoroge, who is specifically in charge of political federation matters.
The official said that the proposed council would mitigate such issues as the recent expulsion of perceived Rwandans from Tanzania.
More than 7,000 people have so far been evicted from Tanzania’s Kagera region, especially in the districts of Biharamuro, Karagwe Ngara Muleba Missenyi.
Though the integration process of the EAC remains on course, there is no clear platform within which conflicts that might arise between partner states can be arbitrated.
Meanwhile, on the issue of Tanzania not being part of the a trilateral arrangement to fast track some of the regional intergration projects, the deputy secretary general said that it is was acceptable for countries to go bilateral or trilateral in implementing some of the projects conceptualised under the regional framework.
“There is nothing like a smaller bloc within the community; it’s just a misunderstanding; when two countries come together to achieve something of mutual benefit, it’s allowed,” he said.
In recent months, there have been high level meetings between the Presidents of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, during which the three principals agreed to fast-track key infrastructure projects.
It was speculated that Tanzania, which hosts the bloc’s secretariat, was being sidelined because of its percieved reluctance to implement some of the protocols under the integration process, including the customs union.
Njoroge added that the fact that some countries like South Sudan and Somalia want to join the community is a clear indicator that the bloc is only growing stronger.
Four EAC partner states—Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Burundi – are already working on a draft EAC constitution that would lead to the realisation of a political federation.
Members are applying the so called “variable geometry principle” in the regional integration, which allows some of the members within the community to move faster than others on some matters.
It is envisaged that the Federal State will comprise a Federal Executive, Federal Legislature and a Federal Judiciary, with functions based on the principle of separation of powers.
The envisaged political federation is expected to create a unified authority to coordinate policies, address the associated challenges as well as ensure sustainable growth and development of the bloc.
Kenya is the main trade gateway to east Africa, through its Indian Ocean port of Mombasa, but traders say it takes too long to get goods cleared and permit-related delays ramp up costs.
Previously, entrepreneurs had to fill several forms and visit 24 different government agencies to get the permits and pay the levies, fees, duties and taxes they need to get goods across borders.
Using the new system, traders will no longer need to physically take documents from one agency to another for processing but can now enter all necessary information online.
Speaking at the launch, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said currently it takes an average of 7 days to clear cargo through the port of Mombasa and about 5 days at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the regional air hub.
However, the new Kenya National Electronic Single Window System, would hasten the process, he said.
“With the electronic Single Window System in place, we intend to progressively reduce the cargo dwell time at the port of Mombasa to a maximum of 3 days and at the JKIA to one day so as to significantly ease the cost of doing business in the region,” he told a gathering that included regional presidents.
Kenyatta said other countries in the region were also planning to adopt the system, and that there was a plan to implement one system to serve the five-member East African Community (EAC) economic bloc.
So far only Rwanda runs such a system, launched in 2012.
A single regional electronic system is in use in the Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and East Africa would want to emulate that, Kenyatta said.
Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Tanzania’s Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda attended the event.
The countries have met previously and also agreed to revamp an existing railway network from Kenya’s port and extend it to Rwanda and also discussed a regional power supply cooperation.
Kenya and Uganda, which have discovered oil, are also considering building an interconnected oil pipeline to a new port being developed on Kenya’s northern coast.
A World Bank statement describes the project as “a necessary first step to the eventual upgrade and expansion of the broader Central Corridor transport network.”
“The location and the size of Tanzania, its mineral and agricultural resources , its tourism potential and its critical role as a transport hub for its landlocked neighbours, provide unrivalled opportunities for the development of modern transport infrastructure and services,” said Philippe Dongier, the World Bank’s country director for Tanzania.
“We are excited to support the government’s efforts to rebuild its rail and intermodal transport system. The project will also indirectly help to boost agricultural trade, create jobs and improve overall livelihoods for the country and neighbouring countries.”
The financing will support the Rail Development Project designed to increase the reliability of the rail infrastructure and train operations; strengthen logistics in the port of Dar es Salaam and its rail terminals; and strengthen railway operations.
The funds will also be used to lay tracks, build new terminals, repair or reconstruct bridges and support the institutional transformation of the sector.
“Besides constraining economic activity in Tanzania and reducing the competitiveness of the country’s tradable sectors, poor infrastructure on the East African Central Corridor creates delays and high costs for transporting goods between Tanzania and its landlocked neighbours (Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda), as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Henry des Longchamps World Bank task team leader for the project.
He added: “The project will help improve a critical link in the regional rail network that is necessary for both competitiveness and improved regional and global economic integration.”
Rehabilitating and upgrading the railway line will improve the transport linkages for the population living in the western part of Tanzania, an area that has a high concentration of agricultural activity, the World Bank says.
“The project will help increase transport capacity in Tanzania which will build competitive alternatives to road transport, and lead to greater traffic volumes that will facilitate the development of economic activities and job creation along the corridor areas,” said Yonas Mchomvu the World Bank co-task team leader for the project.
Source: The East African
The inauguration of a raft of joint infrastructure and integration projects during a meeting between Presidents Paul Kagame, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya in Entebbe, Uganda in June, 2013 heralded a new dawn for the EAC, instilling a sense of urgency in the integration agenda, with the improved livelihoods of the East Africans the ultimate objective.
Since then, the three Heads of State have held another four summits, with none of the three failing to turn up for a single meeting. And the Principals have agreed to meet for their 6th summit around the same time the initiative will have lasted for just one year – in June. That coupled with the incredible results on the ground that are beginning to be realised, is a testament that with sufficient political will, East Africans and, indeed, Africans can go all the way.
That the citizens of Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda could visit each other using just national IDs or voters/student cards as travel documents barely six months after the Presidents had agreed to the plan, as well as the significant drop in the number of days it took truckers to move goods from Kenya’s Mombasa port to Kampala and then Kigali, and the launch of the East Africa Single Tourist Visa – which effectively made the three countries single tourist destination – shows how much the citizens of the three partner states are already reaping from the initiative.
Yet going by the decisions that were taken in the Nairobi summit last week, it is safe to suggest that the benefits the residents of the participating countries have hitherto enjoyed are a drop in the ocean.
The Principals’ explicit commitment to the faster progress in several ongoing integration projects such as power generation, transmission and interconnectivity; petroleum products pipeline development; communication; and Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) development is an indication that the future of EAC can only get brighter.
And the inclusion of South Sudan and lately, Burundi, with Tanzania also involved albeit at a minimum level shows that all East Africans and their neighbours will ultimately benefit from this renewed commitment to the EAC integration.
Source: The Citizen