Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development Rebecca Miano says a bigger East African Community spells opportunity for the region as long as the members are ready to deal with the attendant challenges.
Miano says the current jitters around expanding the EAC are misplaced.
“The bigger the cake, the more the people will partake. If you look at the African Union, the original dream of regional integration is to have a united Africa. Admitting more members in the East African Community is the right thing to do,” she told The EastAfrican in an interview on Thursday.
Miano spoke as the EAC began assessing Somalia’s eligibility to join the bloc. She wouldn’t speak about Mogadishu in particular to avoid influencing the assessors, but said the general projection for the bloc is to grow and be bigger.
Mature from old problems
“Lessons from partner states who have been there before should lead the way. We must mature from the old problems or disputes. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the pioneers, should sort out their outstanding problems to smooth the way for newcomers,” she said. “We think this will make it attractive to new member states. We must lay to rest old problems, enhance communication and leverage technology.”
Miano, a lawyer, wasn’t originally expected to lead regional integration as she worked in the corporate world and led the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen). Yet, even power production and regional issues have some linkages, she has learnt.
“I am very familiar with the power grids in East Africa,” she said.
“I will support any policies that will enhance the power pool in the region. Development won’t come to our region if we do not harmonise our energy policies. An integrated power pool can prevent load shedding in one country, for example, when the next has excess power. In fact, this applies to all sectors. We are currently facing the worst drought in 40 years while some of our neighbours have no such problem. We should be sharing these data to prevent shortages.”