When I took up the post of Secretary General of the East African Community in April 2021, I had the opportunity to travel around the region and exchange ideas with partner governments, business and other stakeholders about their expectations and aspirations of the regional integration agenda .
It was clear that people wanted an inclusive, equitable and responsive integration process that would take into account the daily needs and sense of ownership of the community. In reflecting on and recognizing the progress made, it became clear that there was a need to steer the regional integration agenda with a more people-centered approach.
I was deeply frustrated and the desire of citizens to solve their problems and give them Bringing the community closer, especially as partner countries implement Covid-19 recovery efforts. These commitments and insights have shaped my priorities and determination as I roll up my sleeves to get the job done.
The EAC has become Africa’s most integrated bloc over the years. We have made significant strides in implementing the customs union and common market to facilitate the free movement of people, goods and services and to integrate our trade and infrastructure. The economic growth after the barriers were removed has been impressive.
The Community has reached significant milestones in facilitating the free movement of goods, people, labor, services and capital across our borders. Our central border posts and integrated border management systems have proven to be some of our most strategic investments as they reduce the time and costs involved in cross-border trade.
The inclusion of national ID cards in travel documents has increased the flow of people and trade while the uniform tourist visa improves the opportunities for cooperation between tourism actors and extends the stay in the region.
The partner countries are working on reducing telecommunications costs by harmonizing tariffs and abolishing roaming charges. The “One Network Area “. In anticipation of trade in the African continental free trade area, the Secretariat is playing a crucial role in the negotiations.
In order to increase the EAC’s intra-regional trade, which currently accounts for less than 20 percent of total trade, we must take bold steps to undertake deeper reforms, domesticated national laws, regulations and administrative policies to reflect the aspirations of the EAC integration pillars and protocols.
The region could benefit from the elimination of all customs-equivalent measures and fees that may apply from non-recognition of RUs to increase trade and create jobs.
The Covid-19 pandemic poses significant challenges for the region’s recovery as it relies on global and regional supply chains to address critical sectors to support . It is clear that without an end to the health crisis, there will be no broad-based recovery. Partner countries should therefore give vaccination priority and welcome the mutual recognition of Covid-negative and vaccination certificates.
Aware that peace is a crucial component for the development of the EAC and the maintenance of a healthy business environment that is conducive to growth It is imperative that the community strengthens interaction and collaboration with the United Nations and intergovernmental authorities at regional and national levels.
So finally, I undertake to be aware of current economic, health, security and climate change issues to take strategic leadership and take the necessary steps to address the region’s most pressing challenges for the benefit of our people.
I urge the people of East Africa to join me on this journey as it is in our joint responsibility is the EAC work.
Dr. Peter Mathuki is the Secretary General of the East African Community y