EAC moving at a snail’s pace

Saturday January 18 2020

East African Community heads of State

East African Community heads of State (from left) Uhuru Kenyatta, Paul Kagame, Yoweri Museveni, John Magufuli and Burundi's deputy president Gaston Sindimwo at the EAC Summit in Arusha on February 1, 2019. PHOTO | FILBERT RWEYEMAMU  

LUKE ANAMI
By LUKE ANAMI
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When Jakaya Kikwete, then Tanzania’s president, sharply criticised the “Coalition of the Willing” partners for sidelining other members of East African Community in their projects, he singled out Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for blame.

But seven years later, as the EAC celebrates its 20th birthday, the concerns of the three partner states are yet to be acted on.

These concerns are contained in the Council of Ministers report, signed in November 2019 in Arusha.

The report outlined a number of decisions that are yet to be complied with by the EAC partner states. The report is expected to be tabled before the EAC Heads of State Summit to be held in the next couple of months.

The concerns include failure to remit budgetary allocations by each EAC partner state that would fund the EAC Secretariat activities, review work permit and social security guidelines in order to facilitate the Common Market Protocol’s Free Movement of People, finalise the tourism protocol to market EAC as a single tourist destination and stalled infrastructure projects.

The report, seen by The EastAfrican, also says that a number of EAC activities are suffering following the failure by partner states to remit their budgetary contributions. Immediately after the meeting however, South Sudan paid up, but it still has a deficit.

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According to the report—The EAC Common Market Protocol—which is supposed to ease the free movement of people, labour and goods is yet to be fully in place, and the recent trade dispute over milk between Kenya and Uganda being a case in point, jeopardising the protocol’s implementation.

One of the major unresolved issue is that of the work permits. Both Tanzania and Burundi have been granted up to the end of this year to finalise their guidelines on the same.

“The EAC Council of Ministers has extended the earlier set framework to the United Republic of Tanzania to finalise reviewing legal framework on harmonisation of work permit fees from September 2017 to September 2020. And being the last extension,’’ reads the report.

The Council also directed Burundi, “to expedite the review of national laws to grant preferential treatment in the issuance of the work permits to the citizens of other EAC partner states by September.”

Ministers were informed that Tanzania requires more time to consult on the Tourism and Wildlife, Management protocol and shall report is stand in the next meeting. This has slowed down the marketing of the EAC as a single destination. But the Council of Ministers say that progress has been made.

“We met all the five EAC ministers last November in Arusha and drew up an action plan to implement some of the resolutions the High Level East African Business Summit brought to the fore. The Council of Ministers resolutions will also be presented to the EAC Heads of State sometime this year,” said Vincent Biruka, chair of the EAC Council of Ministers and Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation.

The report is signed by all the five EAC ministers from member states; Rwanda’s Vincent Biruta, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation; Kenya’s Adan Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary EAC and Regional Development’; Burundi’s Isabella Ndahayo, Minister in the Office of the President responsible for EAC; South Sudan’s Paul Agec, Minister of Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs; Tanzania’s Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, Minister Foreign Affairs and EA Co-operation, and Uganda’s Kirunda Kivejinja minister for East African Affairs.

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