The East African Community Secretariat will soon break the ground for the new headquarters in Arusha on the 125-acre land donated by the government of Tanzania.
EAC Secretary-General Peter Mathuki said they are looking for funding to develop the land handed over by Tanzanian President Samia Hassan on March 3.
He said he would be seeking technical experts from member states to come up with a development plan for the parcel located in Kisongo on the outskirts of Arusha town, off the Dodoma road.
Dr Mathuki and Arusha Region administrative officials led by regional commissioner John Mongella toured the land on Friday to locate beacons and said they would secure it as the development plan is worked on.
“The offer of this size of land is unprecedented. We have started the process of developing it and will soon break ground,” he said.
President Samia officially handed over the title deed of the land to the Secretary-General this month, at a time member states are racing each other to offer resources for hosting of the Community’s organs and agencies.
The Council of Ministers has commissioned a review of the distribution of the organs and institutions of the EAC, with a view to ensuring equity. The Secretariat is expected to present a report before the next Ordinary Council meeting, expected mid this year.
12 organs and institutions
The EAC has 12 organs and institutions, with Arusha as secretariat headquarters. The East African Legislative Assembly, the East African Court of Justice and East African Competition Authority, whose headquarters are yet to be determined, are temporarily housed at EAC headquarters. Nine others are permanently hosted by different partner states. Tanzania and Uganda host more than one EAC institution, while Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi host one each.
The Council has been grappling with an aggressive contest pitting Tanzania against Kenya and Uganda on who is well placed to host the proposed East African Monetary Institute, precursor of the regional central bank.
An initial report last year gave Tanzania the thumbs-up, but other states contested this and called for a review. They are yet to reach a compromise.
During the last Council meeting held in Bujumbura, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi, who have bid to host crucial institutions, could not agree on the way forward, as each country sought more time for consultations.
The DR Congo and South Sudan are also keen on hosting EAC institutions, presenting a conundrum on how to evenly distribute them.
Tanzania and Uganda are the only partner states who host more than one EAC institution, while Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi host one each.
“There are organs and institutions whose headquarters have not been determined by the Council and are temporarily hosted at the EAC Secretariat in Arusha,” said a communique from the Council. “Determining the hosting of those organs and institutions which are not yet hosted should be done simultaneously, taking into account which partner state is hosting which organs and institutions.”
The EAMI is one of the most hotly contested institutions, as it gives the host the stature of a regional financial hub.
The successful host is required to provide space for office rent, office equipment, utilities and other support, at least for the first two years.
Each member has put its best foot forward, with Tanzania starting ahead of the pack with the offer of 125 acres seven kilometres away from the current headquarters, just off the Dodoma road, for the construction of a new headquarters, signalling President Samia’s determination to retain the organs in Arusha, and perhaps accommodate more.
Besides that, Dodoma has offered funds for construction of the East African Central Bank offices with a fully furnished office premises at the Ngorongoro Building in Arusha’s central business district in the interim period. Free office space at the Bank of Tanzania’s Twin Towers in Dar es Salaam would be available for immediate use by EAMI staff for logistical activities at the commercial city.
The package also includes office rent throughout the life of the EAMI, as well as residential houses for staff for six months.
Kenya, which was ranked last in the EAC report, had offered ready office space at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies or, alternatively, the newly constructed Central Bank of Kenya Pension Towers in downtown Nairobi.
Nairobi also offered to pay office rent, provide office equipment, utilities and other required support systems for two years.
Uganda offered land for construction of permanent structures for the EAMI, $5 million to kick-start the construction, a fully furnished office premises as well as pay costs for utilities, office equipment, and other recurrent costs for the preparatory period during its establishment.
Burundi offered a building to host the EAMI for transitional time, Land for building EAMI headquarters, a house and vehicle for the EAMI chief executive officer for one year.
By Jackson Mutinda and Luke Anami