THE East African Community (EAC) integration process is on course, and a significant number of achievements have been registered in all four pillars of the unification.
The pillars are Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union and Political Federation. Under Customs Union, harmonisation of cross-border rules and procedures have catapulted intra-regional trade from 2.7 billion US Dollars in 2016 to 2.9 billion US Dollars in 2017 and to 3.2 billion last year.
The second East African Community Development Partner Group (DPG) Thematic Groups (TGs) meeting on Infrastructure and Economic Integration that was convened at the EAC Headquarters in Arushheard further that on the free movement of persons, there is no visa fee requirements for East Africans travelling across the region.
The EAC Deputy Secretary General (DSG) in-charge of Productive and Social Sector, Mr Christophe Bazivamo, informed the members that some partner states allow use of national identity cards as travelling documents and that the countries were issuing the International East African e-Passport that facilitates travel within the region and beyond.
On infrastructure development, the DSG informed the delegates that the EAC partner states were jointly implementing regional infrastructure projects that had been agreed upon by the biennial infrastructure development retreats by the Summit of EAC Heads of State.
Mr Bazivamo disclosed to the development partners that on the EAC Political Federation, that EAC will launch the national stakeholders’ consultations on the Draft Constitution for the EAC Political Confederation before the end of the month.
“EAC partner states have nominated two constitution making experts and one legal draftsman to assist in drafting a basic law for the proposed political confederation which is a transitional model to the political federation,” added Mr Bazivamo.
He expressed his appreciation to development partners for their commitment and continued support.
Leader of the European Union (EU) delegation, Ms Stine Hyldekjaer, emphasized the need for involving all EAC institutions and representatives of key regional non-state actors, including the private sector in the forum, to share their valuable experience of regional integration.
The Regional Integration Coordinator from the African Development Bank, Mr Patrick Kanyimbo, said the TGs forum is valuable for development partners to ensure an alignment of their respective cooperation programmes with those of the EAC towards supporting the implementation of the 5th EAC Development Strategy.
He commended the EAC for establishing the TGs forum, noting that it would enable better coordination of development assistance by development partners to the Community.
The meeting discussed the current ongoing support from development partners. It also looked at key achievements and progress as well as sharing of the EAC Global Priorities for the Financial Year 2020/2021, after which two break away sessions were held concurrently for the Infrastructure and Economic Integration TGs.
The members of the DPG TGs also gave feedback on their current support channeled to EAC.
A number of recommendations were proposed in order to establish a sustainable and solid collaboration.
The DPG TGs was attended by embassy representatives and technical officers from development Partner organisations and agencies as well as representatives from EAC organs and institutions.