Nigeria’s outgoing High Commissioner to Tanzania, Dr Ishaya Samaila Majambu, today paid a courtesy call on the East African Community Secretary-General (SG), Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera, at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Dr Majambu and Dr Sezibera discussed the increasing opportunities for intra- and inter-regional trade brought about by the establishment of regional economic communities (RECs) in Africa.
Dr Majambu hailed the many achievements made by the five EAC Partner States especially in the area of infrastructure development saying this would spur economic growth in the region, adding that it would be prudent for other RECs to borrow from EAC’s infrastructure development strategy.
The envoy called for increased exchange programmes and study tours between the EAC and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
On his part, Dr Sezibera emphasised the increasing collaboration between the EAC and ECOWAS. Dr Sezibera said the EAC was keen on what ECOWAS has attained in the area of financial integration.
Noting the establishment of a tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) between the EAC, South African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr Sezibera said he looked forward to the FTA linking up with ECOWAS and other RECs to form an African Continental FTA (CFTA).
The SG said the CFTA would be a turning point in that it would give African countries the opportunity to trade between themselves in addition to the global market.
Amb. Sezibera praised Nigeria and its citizens for their patriotism and national pride saying the West African country had made Africa proud.
“When things go wrong in Africa, we Africans are often quick to berate ourselves. Nigerians outside of Africa introduce themselves as Africans and are always ready to defend the continent,” said the SG.
A platform to connect farmers to grain buyers in the region was launched on 31st July 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. The platform, dubbed G-Soko, was developed by a Kenyan-based IT firm, Virtual City in partnership with the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and the Food Trade Eastern and Southern Africa Organization. G-Soko, the on-line trading platform, will now enable smallholder farmers in the East Africa to sell their produce at favourable prices.
Speaking at the launch of the platform, the Secretary-General of the East African Community, Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera commended EAGC for partnering with the Secretariat to implement the EAC Food Security Action Plan, which is the EAC strategy to achieve food security in the region.
The Secretary-General, who was represented by the Director for Productive Sectors, Mr Jean Baptiste Havugimana, also hailed the EAGC for the on-line initiative and pledged “EAC continued support in automating agricultural crops trading systems and processes to reduce commercialisation cost and all related challenges and bridge the gap between farmers, traders and consumers for increased food security in the region”.
Speaking at the same occasion, the Executive Director of EAGC, Mr Gerald Masila disclosed that G-Soko was part of a five-year trade enhancement and promotion programme in the region. He said linking rural food production zones in East Africa to urban consumption centres requires a well-functioning regional market and that by adhering to the system, farmers in the region will, among others, be able to access credit while waiting for prices to increase through pledging the electronic warehouse receipt with the banks and agro-dealers.
The farmers will also benefit from reduced post-harvest losses through access to professional storage, cleaning, drying and will benefit from improved prices discovery since many of them rely on farm-gate prices that deliver cash at lower prices.
As for Millers, G-Soko system guarantees availability of quality stocks; standardised and proven grading thus reducing need to carry out sampling to check quality.
The Director of Agriculture in the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kenya commended the initiative saying, “We have seen very positive changes in the breadth and depth of the EAC integration and this is encouraging as we all hope to reap the benefits of regional integration”.
The G-Soko is now operational in two of the EAC Partner States; Uganda and Kenya, and arrangements are under way to extend the system to Tanzania and Rwanda before the Grains Farmers Summit scheduled to take place in Rwanda in early October 2015.
Present at the G-Soko launch were, among others, government officials from the Republic of Kenya, Development Partners, the Director of Food Trade for East and Southern Africa, Representatives of Farmers Associations and certified grains warehouses from all the Partner States except Burundi.