‘The Vision of EAC is a prosperous, competitive, secure, stable and politically united East Africa; and the Mission is to widen and deepen Economic, Political, Social and Culture integration in order to improve the quality of life of the people of East Africa through increased competitiveness, value added production, trade and investments.’
Given that these are the raisons d’être of the regional integration process the following three dimensions of the objectives, fundamental and operational principles of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community:
- [The] attainment of sustainable growth and development of the Partner States by the promotion of a more balanced and harmonious development of the Partner States (Article 5)
- Equitable distribution of benefits (Article 6)
- People-centred and market-driven co-operation (Article 7)
That the five East African Community states have registered impressive economic growth rates during the past decade is undisputable. The region averaged a 6.3 per cent economic growth rate between 2005 and 2010, a pace which has been maintained up to 2012. There is much less consensus on how this stellar growth performance has affected the welfare of ordinary East African citizens. To what extent have they participated in growing the economy? How has the growth in national income changed income and consumption at the level of the household or individual? The annual change in income per capita is a widely used indicator of how citizens are benefitting from growth.
Even more contentious is the distributional question which explores the equity with which the growing income is shared among a country’s people. Are the rewards of economic growth being concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy households – the top 10 per cent – or are they being disproportionately shared with the poor in society, namely the bottom 40 per cent? These fundamental questions of the inclusiveness and equity of economic growth have always exercised the minds of political, academic, business and civil society leaders, with varying degrees of intensity across time.
Poor Infrastructure slowing down growth in rural areas:
Infrastructure connecting villages and towns across the region remains underdeveloped, limiting access to markets, and thereby slowing development in rural East Africa. Enos Bukuku, the EAC Deputy Secretary General for Planning and Infrastructure, has urged EAC member states to invest more in roads, railways, ports and flyovers to connect the region.
No drop in Uganda’s electricity tariff:
Ugandans hoping that the commissioning of Karuma, a Hydro Plant in 2018 will automatically reduce power tariffs should lower their expectations.
Uganda has been upgrading its power generation capacity over the past few years starting with Bujagali power station. Karuma is the next big project although the chairman of the main power distributor has said that the plant will only reduce high electricity tariffs after loans used to build the plant have been repaid.
EAC lobbies for funding to boost integration process:
The East African Community requires more funding to boost integration, especially infrastructure and the creation of border posts that will cut down on time and money spent on cross-border trade. At the first ever Arab-Africa Economic Forum held in Kuwait recently, Rwanda’s Minister for Finance and Economic Planning Clever Gatete urged Arab institutions to increase funding for development programmes.
New short message platform to boost trade:
Rwanda’s Minister of EAC Affairs launched a short message platform for traders to air their complaints, which will then be forwarded to the relevant institutions. According to the Minister of EAC Affairs Jacquelin Muhongayire, if implemented across the region, such platforms would facilitate the flow of trade across borders as they encourage transparency.
Uganda sends away 60,000 refugees:
More than 60,000 Congolese nationals were expelled from Ugandan refugee camps near the DRC border. The move came in the wake of the surrender of the M23 rebels. The refugees had fled to Bundibugyo in Ruwenzori sub-region three months ago, following the fighting between suspected Allied Democratic Force rebels and Congo government forces. According to local civil society sources, the refugees were expelled for refusing to be relocated to Kyangwali. Lobbyists have urged the government to reinforce the local army and enable it to restore peace and order in the area.
Burundi VP calls for joint efforts in fighting terrorism:
Burundi’s first Vice President, Bernard Busokoza, has urged his counterparts in the EAC to come up with lasting solutions to the emerging terrorism threats. Speaking at a regional Peace and Security Conference in Bujumbura, he called for unified efforts to improve security across the region. He said terrorist attacks threaten economic development in the region.
Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda unveil single-tourist visa:
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have adopted a single visa for tourists visiting the three countries. The visa will facilitate the free movement of tourists and citizens across the three countries in a deal expected to promote the region as a single tourist destination. Ministers responsible for tourism in the region, working with the EAC Secretariat announced the deal last week at the World Tourism Market in the UK.
Graft threatens Ugandan Judiciary:
An investigation into the day-to-day operations of Ugandans Judiciary has revealed widespread corruption and lack of accountability. A recent report by Transparency International ranked Uganda as the most corrupt country in East Africa, and the latest findings are likely to dent the country’s image even further. Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee investigating the apparent lack of accountability in the Judiciary noted “acts of impunity” that have delayed the delivery of justice, created case backlog and led to the loss of billions of shillings.
Team from South Sudan tours EAC Headquaters:
South Sudan underscored its interest in joining the EAC when a high level mission visited the regional bloc’s headquarters in Arusha the first week of November. The team comprised 10 ministers, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, chairpersons of various committees of the Assembly, undersecretaries and director generals. The visit came amid fears that member states could be pulling apart.
EU funds target innovative agriculture:
The European Union will increase its funding for innovative projects to boost the agriculture sector in Rwanda and Africa. Agriculture employs 65 per cent of labour force in Africa, contributes 62 per cent of the continent’s gross domestic product, and produces 80 per cent of food consumed, but most farms still suffer from low productivity. Innovate solutions in farming could increase yields and boost food security. Michael Ryan, head of the European Union delegation to Rwanda, said the EU will step up its support for Rwandans strategy of sustainable economic growth through the European Development Fund.
$1m WB facility to harmonise financial systems:
The East African Community member states have received $1 million from the World Bank to harmonise public financial management systems across the five member states. The two-year EAC-World Bank Public Financial Management Co-ordination and Harmonisation Project will involve reforms in public procurement, public financial accounting and management as well as oversight practices in the sector.
Network to help curb illicit activities across borders:
The Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for Eastern Africa launched this month will help curb illicit trade across the region. The five EAC partner states together with Djibouti, Ethiopia and South Sudan established a regional investigative network that will trace people involved in cross- border illicit activities. The network will be based in Kampala.
EALA to Introduce Co-Operative Societies Bill:
EALA plans to introduce a regional Co-Operatives Bill in a bid to streamline the functioning of co-operatives and enable them to benefit from the integration process. The Bill should establish standards people at their various levels similar to those of the European Union. The EU has a legal framework that enables its citizens to take advantage of Saccos and to maximize synergies.
JKIA to get increased capacity:
Capacity at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is to be increased by over four million passengers in the next six months, thanks to a loan by the African Development Bank. The limited capacity at JKIA has been a long-running headache for Kenya. The problem was exarcebated by fire in August 2013. The 10,000 square meter temporary terminal, which is expected to be in one place in four months, will cost Kshs.2.34billion ($27.6 million) The AfDB approved a Kshs.2.3 billion ($27.1 million) loan for the construction of the terminal, with the Kenya government meeting the difference.
More work needed on Community’s single currency:
EAC member states are not ready for a single currency, a new report says. EALA last week debated and adopted the Report of the Committee on Communications, Trade and Investments on the Consultative Workshop on the East African Monetary Union. The report indicates that member states need to harmonise and co-ordinate statistics and macro-economic policies.
Delegates meet to discuss peace, security challenges:
Delegates from EAC member states are expected to assess peace and security challenges facing the region at the second EAC Peace and Security conference scheduled in November. The conference facilitated by the German International Development Agency in collaboration with the EAC secretariat, is in line with the community’s mandate to uphold peace among its member states.
Africa’s Internet access still well below world averages:
Access to broadbrand remains low in Africa despite deployment of several submarine cables, leaders have said. According to Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, ICT must be tailored to solve problems on the continent in the agriculture, industry and services sectors. The continent’s Internet access remains well below world averages, with only two out of 10 Africans having regular and reliable Internet access.
Information e-portal for Ugandans:
Ugandans are set to access timely economic and demographic information about the country following the introduction of an Internet-based data dissemination portal. Access to data has been identified as crucial in moving a country away for personality based politics to evidence-based, scientific decision making. The UgandaInfo 7.0 data dissemination systems launched by the Ugandan Bureau of Statistics will enable people with an Internet connection to brows, upload, visualize and share data relevant to human development. It can also be used to query the database and generate tables, graphs and maps.
EAC plans to mark International Day of Democracy:
The East African Community plans to mark the International Day of Democracy every September 15th, following a resolution passed by the regional assembly in Bujumbura. The Assembly has urged EAC partner states to institutionalize the day and create public awareness on how people can have their voices heard in the process of legislation and decision making.
Ministers vow to fight terrorism:
EAC member states have agreed to work collectively in fighting terrorism following the recent deadly attack at the Westgate mall in Kenya. Ministers and permanent secretaries of the EAC made the commitment at the end of the 12th meeting of the Sectoral Council for Lake Victoria Basin in Mwanza, Tanzania. They agreed to share information among countries.
Airport for oil-rich Bunyoro region:
Uganda could soon be looking to construct an airport in oil-rich Bunyoro to boost the region’s ease of doing business. The country plans to mine its first barrel of oil in 2018, and some observers have criticized the ongoing flurry of auxiliary developments such as construction of hotels, schools, roads, and now, the call for a new airport, even before the country’s oil deposits are commercially exploited. But Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi argued that more airports would increase the country’s attractiveness to tourists.
Debate on South Sudan joining the EAC in November:
An EAC high-level negotiation team is set to debate whether South Sudan will join the bloc. The meeting was scheduled for November 7-8 in Arusha to determine EAC rules of procedure and the programme on South Sudan. This follows a meeting of the Council of Ministers that was held in August, in which the process of handling the negotiations was approved.
Regional university enrolment rate drops:
East Africa has only four per cent enrolment rate in higher education, down from five percent in previous years, according to the Inter University Council for East Africa (IUCEA). “The enrolment rate is going down” said UCEA executive secretary Myunga Nkunya. He noted that the region has the lowest enrolment rate in sub-Saharan Africa. The ideal minimum university enrolment rate is 40 per cent.
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