President Samia Suluhu Hassan calls for review of EAC legal instruments to reflect current times
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 12th June, 2021: The Secretary General of the East African Community, Hon (Dr.) Peter Mathuki, together with the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, Rt. Hon. Martin Ngoga, and the Judge President of the East African Court of Justice, Justice Nestor Kayobera paid a courtesy call on the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Her Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan, at State House in Dar es Salaam.
During the visit, the Secretary General expressed his gratitude to the President and other members of the EAC Summit for his appointment as the sixth Secretary General of the Community.
“I have embraced the responsibility you have given me, and I am committed to serving the people of East Africa. In serving the people, I shall seek your wisdom and guidance on how best we, as a Community, can push the integration agenda further,” said Dr. Mathuki.
The Secretary General informed President the Tanzanian Head of State that the EAC Organs had resolved to enhance collaboration and were committed to working together towards attaining the vision of the Community.
“The Partner States want value for money, and value for money is results, we have therefore committed ourselves to join efforts to produce the results as expected by the Partner States,” added the Secretary General.
Dr. Mathuki briefed the President on the need for the region to devise strategies to enhance intra-EAC trade, which currently stands below 15%, if the region is to realize the vision of a prosperous and competitive East Africa.
“Dialogue with the private sector is important to enable us address the various barriers to trade. It is my hope that in the next five years, we shall be recording intra-EAC trade above 50%,” he added.
The Secretary General said that to better facilitate regional trade, there is need for the establishment of the EAC Disputes Settlement Mechanism, as provided for under Article 24 of the EAC Customs Union Protocol to address all matters pertaining to trade, including the Rules of Origin, anti-dumping measures, subsidies and countervailing measures, and safeguard measures.
The Secretary General further said that while the Covid-19 pandemic had adversely affected the region, like the rest of the world, there was need for the region to adopt a common approach to mitigate the pandemic and facilitate economic recovery and safe trade.
The EAC Deputy Secretary General, in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Eng. Steven Mlote, briefed the President on the various infrastructure development projects aimed at connecting Tanzania to the rest on the region.
The Deputy Secretary General said that various EAC road projects were currently at various stages, key among which are the 400 km road from Tanzania to Kenya running from Bagamoyo-Tanga/LungaLunga- Malidi, including a 523 meter Pangani Bridge; the 305 km road from Tanzania to Burundi running from Nyakanazi – Kasulu – Manyovu (260 km) in Tanzania and Rumonge – Rutunga – Bujumbura (45 km) in Burundi; the 166km road linking Tanzania and Rwanda from Lusahunga – Rusumo (91 km) in Tanzania to Kayonza – Kigali (75 km) in Rwanda; and the 253 km road from Tanzania to Uganda from Masaka-Mutukula-Kyaka (120 km) in Tanzania to Bugene-Kasulo-Kumunazi (133 km) in Uganda.
Eng. Mlote said that in addition to the ongoing projects, there were several infrastructure development projects that had already been concluded and were now operational.
“The EAC has also competed various road projects, including the 240 km Arusha – Namanga – Athi River Road Project; and the 260 km Arusha – Holili – Taveta – Voi Road both linking Tanzania and Kenya; as well as the 42.4 km Arusha Bypass,” added Eng. Mlote.
On her part, President Hassan commended the close collaboration between the Organs and Institutions of the Community, noting that the team spirit will propel the Community greater heights.
The President said that the EAC was integral to fast tracking the development of the region, adding that there was a need to review the EAC Partner State contribution mechanism, to ensure all members were able to meet their statutory obligations as well as enjoy the benefits of their membership to the regional bloc.
“As a Community, the Partner States are all at different levels of development, and our ability to meet our statutory obligations to the EAC vary, we therefore need to look into how this can be addressed so all members are able to meet their obligations,” said the President.
On private sector development, the President stressed on the need to devise strategies to develop the private sector in the region.
“I firmly believe that for a county’s economy to grow, the private sector plays a critical role. We should therefore work towards developing the private sector in the region,” added President Hassan.
In line with private sector development, the President emphasized the need for the region to capitalize on each Partner State’s competitive advantages to spur industrialization.
President Hassan further disclosed that Tanzania had prioritized youth empowerment through various programmes but pointed out that youth employment still remains a vice which calls for urgent attention, not only in Tanzania but the region as a whole.
“The region needs a strategic approach to addressing youth unemployment such as vocational training and access to capital, if not addressed, the challenges unemployment will breed will pose a greater challenge to the region,” said the President.
Referring to the EAC’s institutional framework, the President stressed the need for a comprehensive review of the Treaty and other legal instruments to reflect the current times.
“The Treaty establishing the EAC was put on paper 20 years ago when we were only three members. We have now grown to six and hopefully we shall continue growing. We therefore need to not only review the Treaty, but other instruments as well, to align them with what we have already done, and what we aspire to do,” she added.
The President reassured the EAC delegation of her commitment to the EAC integration, adding that Tanzania was indeed reaping the benefits of the EAC, and is keen to see the Community flourish and become a subject of admiration in regional and international fora.