East African Community and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed has called on East Africa Community governments to promote seamless continental integration in order to boost prosperity and create enough jobs for the youth.
CS noted that the integration will promote holistic border competition which is essential if the EAC is to be beneficial to its people, otherwise it will only be promoting international business, with very low prices because of unhealthy competition.
“Let us create a value chain that will capture a significant amount of value. Otherwise we will end up as consumers, not producers,” he quipped.
Adan further said that EAC Countries must work together and harmonize laws and tax regulations that would promote equity in doing business across the member countries, and as well agree to play by the laws agreed in conferences.
He called for the member states to take Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) seriously as far as their contribution to the GDP is concerned, noting that in every 10 jobs created, nine of them are by the enterprises, making them a critical aspect of business.
The CS reiterated that Kenya is fully committed to the regional integration agenda and to support to the East African Community, as well as implement decisions made by the Summit and the Council of Ministers.
“Kenya is always part of the decision taken by East African Community as a region in the context of international relations and we will continue with this spirit,” the CS assured.
According to Adan, Kenya takes cognizance of its centrality in the geopolitics of the region as well as the economic development of the whole region with its approach to handling matters in the East African Community is peace, encouraging a positive trade environment and a supportive infrastructure.
“As you are aware the President of the Republic of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, is on record allowing East African students from outside Kenya to pay the same fees as Kenyans and those who are seeking opportunities for establishment of business and settling in Kenya to feel free and come to the Republic of Kenya,” said the CS.
He also noted that the Kenyan infrastructure development is regional in nature, serving Republics of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and even DRC Congo with the investment in the port of Mombasa of benefit to the whole region.
“The recent addition to Kenya’s infrastructure development, SGR is of immediate benefit to our neighbors who are land -locked. We are also improving the port facilities in Kisumu which we anticipate will ease movement of goods to the Republic of Uganda through Port Bell and to the United Republic of Tanzania through the port of Mwanza,” he said.
The CS lauded the progress made in the realm of trade facilitation including the transformation of the Customs processes, the introduction of technology in driving regional business, re-orienting the border operations under the coordinated border management concept, and the re-engineering of the immigration procedures.
Bidco Oil Refineries and EABC Director Vimal Shal called for honest conversations on regional integration as well as action packed decisions if the region is to fully break the existing barriers.
“The trade between EAC Community is still hampered by whether I’m Kenyan, Ugandan, Tanzanian or a Rwandan. We have not worn the EAC Scarf of one people and as the private sector, we are not happy with the progress. We can do better,” said Vishal.
Vishal further noted that EAC has the right infrastructure and instruments to ease business among them, further calling on governments to empower EALA to make jurisdictions that will integrate trade.
Present was chair and CEO of the Kenyan-based steel and aluminum group Com craft Manu Chandaria, EAC Secretariat Deputy Secretary General Steven Mlote among other EAC dignitaries.
The conference will run for the next two days with EAC expected to embark on a fresh effort on regional integration as well as reflect on the implementation of the customs union and assess achievements, challenges and propose new measures to enhance EAC Trade.
By Alice Gworo