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Uhuru says EAC member states are not competing

25 March 2014, 12:36 Nechesa Chemoi

Arusha - President Uhuru Kenyatta has said that there is no competition among East African Community (EAC) member states.

“We compete with other parts of the world,” said President Kenyatta, who is the chairman of EAC Heads of State Summit.

The President was addressing EAC staff at the regional bloc’s headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, last evening where he told them that they are at the heart of the community and thus the engine that helps achieve the goals of the EAC.

He said he fully supported the integration of East Africa, pointing out that it is only through unity that the citizens are assured of wealth creation, job creation and prosperity.

The President said member states need to complement each other and help one another overcome their weaknesses to achieve the agenda of integration.

“Unity is the surest way to achieve economic development for our people. The process of bringing the people of the region together should move faster,” he said.

He noted the need to revamp and review EAC institutions and organs to respond to current challenges and help to speed up the integration process.

He said the review is aimed at fast tracking the remaining protocols and programmes to achieve the political federation which the member states are yearning for.

“We need to have quick systems to allow movement of people and goods. The future of our region lies in what is being done here in the EAC headquarters in Arusha,” President Kenyatta said.

On funding, the President said development partners have helped the EAC, but pointed out that the Community is an East African affair and the region should be self-reliant.

President Kenyatta said member states will consider equality and ability on funding the EAC, noting that for the organization to meet its targets it requires member states to take up the key role in its funding.

He pledged to look into the issue of staff growth so that they do don’t stagnate at the time they work at EAC.

He said the review of institutions that is underway is a clear sign that EAC has grown since inception.

He said free movement of people should emulate what happens with ‘cattle of the Maasai across the border without anyone asking for visas’.

He listened to the issues facing EAC staff, and pledged to take them up to the summit level to ensure fairness noting that the future of personnel serving at the secretariat need to be guaranteed.

Cabinet Secretary and Chair of the EAC Council of Ministers Phyllis Kandie said the President’s visit was a sign of the region’s leaders’ commitment to the affairs of the EAC and disclosed that a review of EAC secretariat institutions was underway as directed by the Summit.

EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera said,“Staff here serve for two terms at horizontal terms and without pension. The budget is growing and the EAC is well-funded in Africa.”

He, however, lamented that donors still dominate funding of EAC. In this financial year, for example, the member states have given KES 2.75 billion with donors giving KES 6.85 billion.

Dr Sezibera said since President Kenyatta was elected, he had shown his commitment to regional integration through projects undertaken by his government.

He cited the building of the Standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Kigali and Bujumbura, saying Kenyans have a right to express their view but added that “the railway is an East African affair and our views should also be heard”.

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