Kagame delivered the message on Tuesday 1st November 2022 as he addressed members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), government officials and envoys accredited to Rwanda.
He particularly congratulated EALA, which is holding its sitting in Rwanda under its fourth term to be concluded in December, for the commendable work that has been done, over the last five years, ‘in the service of our Community and our people’.
Since its re-establishment more than twenty years ago, Kagame said, the East African Community has made significant progress towards the creation of a single market.
EALA has been an integral part of this success by harmonizing laws and policies, and providing oversight of regional bodies to ensure the interests of all citizens are being served.
Despite the progress, Kagame observed that there are still challenges in the implementation of EAC programs and projects.
“First, the East African Community is currently underfunded, delaying the implementation of projects and programs. As partners, we must work together to adopt a sustainable financing mechanism, and take full ownership of our development, with less reliance on external support, which we are appreciative of,” he said.
The President also stressed the need to ensure that the bloc’s resources are spent soundly, and make financial accountability a top priority.
Secondly, Kagame said that the bloc is far behind the timeline set to achieve some of the major goals for the Community.
He reminisced on the establishment of EAC single currency noting that East African Monetary Institute is necessary for achieving a monetary union.
Lastly, the Head of State highlighted that a good progress has been made in removing non-tariff barriers even though many still remain.
As he said, unsettled challenges hinder the free movement of goods and services, yet it is the foundation of the region’s shared prosperity of the future.
“Here, political will is the solution,” he stated.
Despite these areas needing improvement, the Head of State divulged that the East Africa Community ranks highly in independent reviews of Regional Economic Communities.
He however observed that it does not suffice, ‘for Regional Economic Communities across our continent to do well, individually’. To this end, Kagame said that they must collaborate, share knowledge, and learn from one another, to fulfill the wider objective of a more united and prosperous Africa.
Among others, the president said that the coming years will bring numerous challenges and new opportunities to the continent and urged countries to face the future with a sense of urgency, working closely together.
In consideration of the fact that the youth account for the vast majority of the continent’s population while the number is projected to continue growing, Kagame stated that Africa should become the engine of the world’s growth and innovation in the second half of this century.
However, the president stressed the need to make the necessary investments in people, in infrastructure and in regional integration ‘right now’.
Creating a bright future for today’s young people, means putting good governance and security at the center of everything we do. Rwanda remains committed to peace and stability efforts, within agreed frameworks, at both the regional and continental levels,” he said.
EALA started its plenary sitting in Rwanda on 24th October to be concluded on 5th November 2022.
It is part of the assembly’s principle to have rotational sittings in all partner States.
During the sitting held in Rwanda, members are expected to discuss on different draft laws and receive a report from the eight committees making up the assembly.