New Year Address to Staff by Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, Secretary General, EAC
16TH JANUARY 2018, EAC HEADQUARTERS, ARUSHA
- Executive Staff Present;
- Heads of Institutions and Organs;
- Professional Staff;
- General Staff present;
Let me begin by welcoming all of you back to work after the end of year Break. I am hoping that you rested well and had a nice time with you your families. I am happy to see all of you back, and we should thank the almighty GOD for seeing us through, I personally don’t take it for granted. I take this opportunity to wish all of you a very fruitful 2018. Now that we’re a few days into the New Year, it’s good to look ahead and think about what this year may bring us.
Before I continue with my remarks, let me take this opportunity to convey my deepest condolences to all Colleagues who lost their loved ones during last year. I know there is nothing as difficult as losing someone you love but I pray that the good Lord will continue strengthening you and your families as you come to terms with the loss. I wish to request that we stand for a minute of silence in their honour and may their souls rest in peace. …………… Amen.
I am happy that we are starting this New Year on a good note, with the 4th East African Legislative Assembly in place. As you are aware the 4th Assembly members were sworn in December last year. The 4th Assembly has their work cut out – as we strive to make up for the lost time. The Assembly must also embark on the backlog of work in terms of key pieces of legislation that were not completed by the 3rd Assembly. There are about 13 pieces of legislation, which shall need to be completed and enacted. The region shall be looking at EALA to deliver especially on legislation that will anchor and fortify the pillars of integration. I further congratulate the 3rd Assembly for their laudable contribution and note that over the five-year period, the Assembly passed 30 pieces of legislation, over 80 reports and over 100 resolutions.
I must admit that 2017 was a challenging year for all of us at EAC, and especially the first and second quarters of financial year 2017/18 where we experienced serious financial challenges. I want to thank all of you for bearing and coping with these challenges, I was touched that staff could use their own resources to travel and support EAC activities for reimbursement when funds become available. This is a show of not only commitment and passion but also maturity and desire to contribute to the integration process. Because of this most activities were still implemented uninterrupted and as scheduled. We shall work together to ensure there are enough resources to run the affairs of the community. The reality of the matter is that partner states are slow in disbursing their commitments, as at end of December only 40% had been disbursed, this calls for serious prioritizing of the available resources and ensure critical activities are implemented. We also need to avoid wastage at all costs. I want to refer you back to the circular of May 2016, where it was directed that all meetings should start on Tuesdays and meetings should not last for more than four days. Colleagues tough times call for tough measures. I am sure we can still achieve a lot, with the resources available. This summit will be addressing the issue of alternative financing mechanisms and I can assure you that a lasting solution will be found. We should not be discouraged by our challenges, as one great man T. HARV EKER said “if you want to make a permanent change, stop focusing on the size of your problems and start focusing on the size of you”
There were notable achievements in 2017 despite all the challenges. Under the Directorate of Customs, our main priority was to attain the full roll-out of intra-trade and imports regime under the Single Customs Territory. To this end a number of achievements were recorded in 2017. Most important was the operationalization of 10 One Stop Border Posts, 3 of which were officially launched, the most recent being the official launch of the Mutukula One Stop Border Post (OSBP) located on the Uganda/Tanzania border in November last year after Holili/Taveta and Rusumo.
Under the Common Market pillar, Partner States continued to facilitate free movement of goods, services, labor and capital and accord rights of establishment and residence to firms and citizens from other Partner States. Last year, the (non-tariff barriers) NTBs Act, 2015 was assented by all the Partner States and regulations to operationalize it were developed. Also a total of 104 standards were approved by SCTIFI in June 2017 as East African Standards and 108 international standards endorsed for adoption by the Partner States in accordance with the EAC procedures. This brings to date, the cumulative total number of harmonized standards to 1,428 for the period 2000 - to June 2017. In addition to this, negotiations of Mutual Recognition Agreements for Land Surveyors were concluded and are now awaiting signing.
In 2017, the Secretariat, in close collaboration with Partner States continued the fight against NTBs in the region. Partner States assented to the EAC Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers Act 2017. The Act was gazetted and published. During the same year, a draft Export Promotion Strategy 2018-2023 was developed and is now ready for consideration by all stakeholders. In the area of standards, we harmonized, approved, and gazetted 106 East African Standards for the most commonly traded goods like Textiles and apparel, leather and leather products, Cereals and pulses, Oil Seeds, Fats and Oils, Packaging, Nutrition and Foods for special dietary uses. We are hoping that in 2018, Partner States will finalise the regulations for successful implementation of the EAC Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers Act 2017 and intensify monitoring of trade flows along our common border.
In Energy and Infrastructure, EAC registered notable achievements. In Energy, EAC adopted its Energy Security Policy Framework, making it the first regional economic community to adopt an Energy Security Policy Framework in Africa. This framework aims at providing regional guidance to Partner States in the management and mitigation of the challenges in energy security. The Partner States have acknowledged that energy is pivotal to the regional integration agenda and have therefore set ambitious development plans prioritizing the energy sector.
In Infrastructure, we were able to secure funding amounting to 1.5 Million USD from the AfDB for studies for the Masaka – Mutukula / Bugene – Kasulo road (Tanzania/Uganda). This is in addition to the 2.2 Million USD which was secured for the ongoing studies for the Multinational road projects: Nyakanazi – Kasulu – Manyovu / Rumonge – Bujumbura road (Tanzania/Burundi), Lusahunga – Rusumo / Kayonza – Kigali road (Tanzania/Rwanda) expected to be completed by March, 2018. In addition to this, the Tripartite Transit Transport Program amounting to 18 Million Euro was launched during the 1st Tripartite Sectoral Ministerial Committee on Infrastructure (TSMCI) meeting held in October, 2017
In the Industry Sector, last year EAC launched the East African Community Industrial Competitiveness Report. This report is the first of its kind. It was developed to provide direction as we seek to attain the industrialization goals of the Community of expanding the market opportunities for the industrial sector in the region and improving the competitiveness of the region, in line with the EAC Industrialization Policy and Strategy.
The Gender Sector also registered a key milestone with the enactment of The EAC Gender Equality, Equity and Development Bill, by the 3rd Assembly 2016 early last year. The Bill gives effect to the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as it expressly prohibits all forms of exploitation, cruel, inhuman or degrading traditional practices.
In the Agriculture Sector, the EAC Regional Agriculture Investment Plan was validated. This Plan seeks to catalyze the realization of the EAC Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme goals in five investment thematic areas, namely; Increasing regional agricultural production and food supply; Enhancing food utilization; Promoting agribusiness, value addition and agro-industry; Promoting sustainable natural resource use and management; and Strengthening capacities of EAC regional agricultural institutions.
As you are aware, the Monetary Union is the third pillar in the EAC Integration process, which is expected to be in place by 2024 with the introduction of a common currency and the establishment of a regional Central Bank. In 2017, EAC Secretariat worked with Partner States and other stakeholders in laying the foundation for the Monetary Union. In April 2017, Bills for the establishment of the EAC Monetary Institute and EAC Bureau of Statistics were cleared by the EAC Council of Ministers and forwarded to EALA for enactment. The progress made so far indicates that the 2024 timeline for the establishment of the Monetary Union is achievable.
You all know that the 4th EAC Development Strategy 2011-2016 has elapsed and the work for preparing a succeeding Strategy is underway. It is worth noting progress made so far in the preparations for the 5th EAC Development Strategy that will guide operations of the Community over the medium term period to 2020/21. The Draft Strategy that has been developed in consultation with all stakeholders, notably the EAC Partner States, and Development Partners has undergone most of the requisite reviews and validations and its currently due for approval by the Council of Ministers and eventual adoption by the Summit of Heads of State scheduled for next month - February 2018. To this end, I wish to take this opportunity to applaud the team that led the preparation of this important document for the Community for the work well done so far. It is my sincere hope that this new Strategy will propel the pace of integration for the Community over the plan period.
The proposed 5th development strategy if implemented fully, will be a game changer in the region. It will contribute to eradication of poverty, improved health care and enhance the education standards. The overall objective is to build a stable and prosperous East AFRICA, and be a middle income region. My dear colleagues let us all invest our energies both physical and intellectual to ensuring that we achieve the objectives.
2017 also marked the year in which EAC passed the ISO audit. This is a great success. Also we were able to finalize and recruit 36 new staff in established positions, which facilitated a smooth handover from exiting staff who had completed their tenure. We also experienced an increase in the involvement and participation of the Republic of South Sudan in EAC meetings especially via video conferencing. We were also able to finalize on the EAC Digitization Policy that will create a standard for information sharing in all organs and institutions and partnering ministries.
The East Africa Court of Justice also experienced great progress in the last year. This included an increase in the number of cases filed and determined which is a show of confidence the residents of East Africa have in the Court. It has also taken on board an additional judge from the Republic of South Sudan and in this calendar year an addition sub-registry will be opened in Juba.
Since April 2016 the Secretariat has been undergoing administrative and institutional reforms aimed at cutting down on costs and reducing wastage in its expenditure. I am happy to report that during last year the Community reported significant reductions in traveling expenses including expenditure on air tickets and DSA for both EAC Staff and Partner States delegates and other participants in EAC meetings. These reductions have helped the Community to adapt to the overall financial constraints it has been facing. To be specific in FY 2015/16, the expenditure on travel i.e. tickets, DSAs, accommodation amounted to 19,073868, in 2016/17 the expenditure was 11,047,292. Colleagues this a reduction of close to USD 8 million, I want to commend all of you for embracing and implementing the changes geared to cutting costs. I urge you all to continue in the same spirit because we have to all play our part, As Barrack OBAMA put it when addressing congress “change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
For the last two years, we were able to enhance partnership with the development partners, which culminated in the renewal of financing agreements and approval of programmes for over 250 million US Dollars. In addition to this, the European Union approved 60 Million Euros worth of projects under the 11th EDF Regional Indicative Programme (RIP) which includes support to LVBC and LVFO. This demonstrates the confidence and trust that the development partners have on EAC. I want to sincerely congratulate the staff who participated in submitting convincing funding proposals and contributing efficiently to negotiations with development partners. I want to particularly single out Dr Stanley Sonoiya who has constantly and consistently engaged Development partners and is always submitting proposals for funding new projects. Please let us clap for him. Their efforts and skills are needed more than ever as our ambition is to raise more funds for the achievement of critical projects.
I also want to thank the Development Partners for their continued support. We need to improve on our coordination of projects and communication of results. A projects coordination unit has been operationalized, we are working on making it fully operational.
We have also as part of the achievement, developed a roadmap to fast track integration of the Republic of South Sudan and I acknowledge the support by GIZ to this end.
What I have mentioned are just a few of our achievements. I wish to sincerely thank each of you for your contributions, which made it possible for us to make these achievements despite all the challenges we faced as Community. 2018 is also not going to be easy especially noting that amongst other things, we need to intensify our efforts in preparing for the implementation of the 5th Development Strategy. The clock is also ticking on the finalization of the implementation of the Customs Union, Common Market and the Monetary Union Protocols. This will require all of us to use our time wisely and move forward as decisively and swiftly as we can so as to accelerate activities geared towards this. The Executive management is particularly concerned about the tendencies of some staff being absent from office without clearance, and also not observing working hours as stipulated in the staff rules. In 2018 I call for personal discipline and respect to working hours. We need to ensure that East Africa Continues to be at the forefront of integration, and growth and this can only be made possible through continued dedication and teamwork. I wish to reiterate my cooperation and support to all of you in 2018.
I acknowledge that last year we had introduced some measures aimed at enhancing our interaction and internal communication. I am happy to note that some of them have been implemented most notably joint tea sessions on Thursdays. I wish to commend the Human Resources department for this and urge you to keep up the spirit. In the same vein, I realize that a number of measures have still not been implemented but I wish to assure you that we will strive to implement them during this year. I am specifically directing the Human Resources and Administration Department to ensure that we have quarterly staff meetings to enhance our interactions. I also encourage directors to have frequent meetings at directorate level to enhance teamwork and collectivity. I realize that there is need for a lot of awareness creation of our achievements both internally and externally, I therefore wish to direct the Communications Department to introduce a system that will ensure that this is done on a regular basis.
Further, this year we are looking to ensure:
- Enhanced cohesion and dialogue among staff, towards this we shall increase the consultative meetings by having quarterly staff meetings, annual all staff retreat, departmental/directorate team meetings, EAC Family and sports days. A schedule for this year will be circulated by Administration Department. To start off this I am announcing that there will be a meeting on 2nd February for all Executives, Directors and Heads of institutions.
- Short term staff: - I acknowledge the critical role that is played by our short term staff. There are functions in EAC that are totally reliant on short term staff. Despite their contribution I am always touched by some of their predicaments and especially when it comes to renewal of contracts. I therefore direct the DHRA to ensure that the contracts are renewed in good time to avoid situations where they go without salaries. I have also noted that the colleagues are issued with three months and six months’ contracts and therefore making it difficult even to plan for their lives or even access financial support. To address this scenario, on 12th of January this year, I wrote to the DHRA directing that short term staff be issued with one year contracts, unless there is a challenge on funds. DSG (F&A) has assured me that this will be implemented with effect from next financial year starting July 2018. The phenomena of short term staff is not unique to EAC. Organisations such as UN, AU and even COMESA rely so much on short term staff to deliver their mandate. This matter should be given due review and consideration.
- The completion of job evaluation and workload analysis exercises to ensure that our structures are in tandem with our strategy;
- Strengthen inter-organ/institutional collaboration and co-operation and more team building exercises;
- Improve processes, systems and infrastructure to provide high levels of efficiency, quality, and cost effectiveness by building the capacity of the Governance structure, EAC Management and Staff including going paperless. The IT department has already developed a proposal towards this.
- Strengthen and transform EAC’s culture of excellence and facilitate strategic partnership to attain the EAC goals through training and improved performance;
- Strengthen the procurement function to ensure financial Rules and Regulations are adhered, procurements are promptly completed and suppliers. I paid on time. I am reiterating on the need to implement the March 2017 circular on procurement which was aimed at smoothening the procurement process.
- Completion of ICT strategy and Strengthen the network and sharing of information among EAC Organs, Institutions and Coordinating Ministries through integrated ICT systems.
I wish to conclude by thanking Members of the Summit, the Council of Ministers, the Permanent secretaries for their individual and collective leadership; further I want to thank Heads of EAC Organs and Institutions; all Staff of the East African Community; and all our Partners for the commitment, dedication and support to EAC.
I once again wish all of you good health and a successful 2018. Happy New Year and God bless you all!