6th Annual EAC Secretary General's Forum ongoing in Nairobi, Kenya
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, 23rd July, 2018: The 6th Annual EAC Secretary General’s Forum themed Strategizing for impact: People-Centred and Market-Driven Integration is underway at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.
Addressing the over 100 delegates attending the Forum, Uganda’s 2nd Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of EAC Affairs and Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers, Rt. Hon. Dr. Kirunda Kivejinja, called upon all Partner States to strengthen mechanisms to guide the national level implementation of EAC Policies and Programmes and to utilize the Consultative Dialogue Framework (CDF) already established to facilitate exchange and sharing of ideas on regional integration on a sustained basis.
Rt. Hon. Kirunda Kivejinja, who was represented by Ms. Ronah Nandaula Serwadda from Uganda’s Ministry of EAC Affairs, noted that a number of the Forum’s initiatives had been supported by policy directives from the EAC Council of Ministers to address some of the recommendations that were made during the past Forums.
He cited a few of them as follows; the reduction in the costs of communication via mobile phones, internet and other means through harmonization of the roaming fees by some Partner States after the adoption by the Council of the One Area Network; the passing of the EAC Gender Equality and Development Bill by EALA in 2017; the Non-Tariff Barriers Bill (currently undergoing assent); EAC HIV/AIDS Act, 2012; and the EABC regional code of conduct for doing business, among others.
The 2nd Deputy Prime Minister pledged continued support and partnership of the EAC Council of Ministers to the Annual EAC Secretary General’s Forum including mainstreaming of the Dialogue in regional initiatives and at the national levels.
He re-iterated the commitment of government of Uganda and that of the EAC Council of Ministers in supporting the implementation of the recommendations including ensuring active participation of all Parties to the Dialogue in the EAC regional integration process.
Addressing the same occasion, Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the Ministry of East African Community and Northern Corridor Development, Dr. Susan Koech recognized the important role of the incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa (IIDEA). Furthermore, she disclosed that to date, Kenya and Uganda’s Cross-Border Traders had benefited from real time market information on prices of goods in over 100 markets in the region through the Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa (IIDEA) project from the Sauti Africa/EASSI web based trade information platform, which was a classic example of how important the Consultative Dialogue Framework (CDF) can impact positively on the lives of rural East Africa.
The Principal Secretary highlighted another innovative project, ClincPesa by CreativeDNA, which if fully implemented will facilitate access to health care services across the region and applauded the Regional Dialogue Committee for a job well done.
Dr. Susan Koech challenged the forum participants to propose a sustainability mechanism that will ensure funds growth with a possibility of an independent revolving fund to support young innovators especially in the agricultural value chain, which is the back bone of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) involved in intra-EAC trade.
She urged the Dialogue Parties to use the forum to come up with reforms that will see more involvement of the rural communities with activities in the EAC integration process for it to have the intended meaning and desired impact.
“There are very few projects, if any, touching on the youth in the region and something need to be done to get them fully integrated in the CDF programmes - everybody counts in the EAC integration agenda”, observed the Principal Secretary.
“As a country Kenya, we have embraced inclusivity by bringing on board the County governments especially those that are in the transit routes between Kenya and Tanzania and Uganda who play a critical role in policy development and implementation”.
The Principal Secretary disclosed that her Ministry had forged cross working relations with the County Governments and policy making organs (County Assemblies) to bring them to speed on EAC integration process to enable them appreciate cross border trade and how their policies relate with the Common Market Protocol with respect to Tariff and Non Tariff Barriers especially for the border Counties like Busia, Kisumu, Kajiado and Migori, among others”.
On his part, the Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko disclosed that for the first time, the Republic of South Sudan was participating in the Forum and called upon the new Partner State to move quickly and establish all the required structures in the country for the effective Dialogue on EAC Integration up to the grassroots level.
He appealed to the Parties to the Dialogue and participants to work towards a fully integrated East Africa with all East Africans living in harmony with each other.
The Secretary General commended the Private Sector through its umbrella organization, the East African Business Council, for improving the business and economic environment in the region through evidence-based policy advocacy in several areas including; harmonization of trade facilitation and regulatory framework, harmonization of product standards, advocating for free movement of the factors of production, as well as addressing trade barriers faced by women-owned businesses and Micro, Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Amb. Mfumukeko asserted that the sector had contributed towards monitoring and advocacy on elimination of NTBs, improved infrastructure network, and enhanced the competitiveness of firms in intra and extra-EAC trade and these efforts had tremendously contributed to reduction in the incidences of Non-Tariff Barriers.
Dr. Kirsten Focken, the Cluster Coordinator-EAC-GIZ Programme based in Arusha, Tanzania stated that the German support towards enhancing engagement of the privates sector and civil society is premised on the notion that Regional Integration can only become a reality when the citizens are aware, involved and own the process.
Dr. Focken urged the Dialogue Parties to address the current gaps in the CDF, review the stakeholder’s interests and mobilize resources for its implementation and sustainability.
The Executive Director of the East African Business Council (EABC), Ms. Lilian Awinja informed the Forum that working together with the EAC Secretariat and the Regional Dialogue Committee, the Parties had analyzed and discovered that out of the previous 5 EAC SG Foras, the level of implementation of the agreed recommendations was still very low, for example the analysis indicates that only 16% of the recommendations had been fully implemented, 43% partly implemented, 36% not implemented and 5% had no update at all.
“These figures are worrying and explains why this forum has been organized as a strategy forum such that the Dialogue Parties together with the EAC Secretary General brainstorm and agree on a clear path to the realization of the objectives of the Consultative Dialogue Framework as envisaged under Article 127(4) of the EAC Treaty.
The 6th Forum, which is supported by GiZ, is being attended by about 100 delegates drawn from the Partner States’ Private Sector Organizations (PSOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), professional bodies, Academia/Universities, Media, EAC Organs and Institutions, Development Partners and Other Interest Groups.
The Forum aims to provide a platform for regular dialogue between the EAC Secretary General and the Private Sector, Civil Society and other interest groups on how to improve the EAC integration process. The annual Forum is convened by the EAC Secretariat in collaboration with the Regional Dialogue Committee (RDC) which is comprised of membership drawn from Partners States which include the Private Sector, Civil Society, Representatives of Government and regional Private Sector, Civil Society, Trade Union, Employer and Professional Associations/Bodies.
The Forum is guided by the principles of cooperation for mutual benefit, trust, goodwill, active and constructive participation, inclusivity and respect for diverse views, among others.
For more information, please contact:
Mr Owora Richard Othieno
Head, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department
Tel: +255 784 835021
Email: OOthieno [at] eachq.org
About the East African Community Secretariat:
The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of five Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
The EAC Secretariat is ISO 9001:2008 Certified