MOHAMED: Despite Covid-19 EA integration is well on course

Saturday September 04 2021
Adan Mohamed

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for EAC Adan Mohamed. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Adan Mohamed, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for EAC, spoke to Luke Anami on issues affecting the bloc.


How is the Council pushing for EAC integration now, compared with the past?

Unfortunately, the impact of Covid-19 has hampered a lot of activities in the region. Not to mention the challenges it has caused on the movement of people and goods across borders. But that challenge notwithstanding a lot of effort has been made in ensuring that free movement of goods.

There was an extraordinary summit of the EAC and certain protocols were agreed upon. This was despite differences of opinion on the whole issue of Covid-19 among partner states in the region. Tanzania had a different view — and Burundi. So applying a consistent protocol proved a challenge. But everybody agreed that movement of goods across borders be facilitated. This demonstrated that, even in times of crisis, our integration agenda is functional.

When are we likely to see the Democratic Republic of Congo admitted to the EAC?


The DRC application is being looked at. A verification mission has already completed its work. The team is already done with assessment and the report is ready.

The final sign-off is by the Summit. The matter is likely to be on the agenda in the next Heads of State Summit, whose date is yet to be fixed. We normally have scheduled meetings in November. But because President Uhuru Kenyatta took over in February this year, the anniversary will be sometime early next year. But, as and when there is a need, the Summit can meet.

East Africans are spending more time at border points and airports due to multiple Covid-19 tests administered by each partner state. What plans have you put in place to ensure smooth travelling across the region?

Covid-19 is going to be a real disruptor in the foreseeable future. But, that said, I think all countries have enforced Covid-19 guidelines on the advice of the World Health Organisation that people need to be tested before they travel. That is a universal thing. There is nothing we are doing that is punishing East Africans more than in any other country. The protocol of people taking tests 72 hours before they travel is universal.

We introduced an electronic pass, especially for truck drivers, given the nature of their business, to enable them to move from one country to another, and which is valid for 14 days. It is working. It is designed to make it easy for truck drivers to move around. We have invested in infrastructure that will make testing quicker. We are carrying out mobile tests at border points,.

Why is Kenya keen on developing the Lapsset when it is increasingly looking like a white elephant?

Lapsset is not a white elephant. Kenya is eyeing the Ethiopian market. The Port of Lamu is also meant to cater for the large ships on the eastern coast of the Indian Ocean, as it is the deepest and largest in the region. We are now transshipping to Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, Mombasa and even Somalia.