The Prime Minister highlighted the need for timely and effective implementation of EAC projects to boost trade and ease business across the region. While acknowledging commendable growth in intra-EAC trade, he raised concerns about persistent non-tariff barriers and called for sustainable financing solutions.
Among others, Premier Ngirente urged efficient use of resources and reaffirmed Rwanda’s commitment to the EAC integration process.
Since 1967, the East African Community (EAC) has encountered challenges in implementing agreements, rules, and historical frameworks established by member states, as noted by influential figures such as Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, and Milton Obote. Despite facing a suspension in 1970, the EAC resumed its activities in 1990, driven by the vision of individuals like Mwalimu Nyerere who fought for its existence.
The organization, originally conceived to facilitate regional integration, still requires citizens of member countries to possess passports, raising questions about the progress achieved over the years. For instance, a Rwandan traveling to Burundi, Tanzania, or Kenya must have a passport or Laissez Passé, while entry into Uganda only necessitates an identity card.
The EAC’s foundational agreement envisions the free flow of goods, people, services, finance, and the right to establish profitable activities. However, challenges persist, hindering real integration and impeding the movement of people, as emphasized by members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
George Stephen Odongo, Uganda’s representative in EALA, highlighted the existence of the African Common Market agreement signed by all EAC countries, emphasizing the need to facilitate the movement of people and goods.
He expressed optimism that full integration would be realized when countries universally adhere to the agreement, advocating for the acceptance of identity cards as a means of communication.
However, concerns about security implications were raised, with countries like Tanzania and Burundi working on requirements and controls to ensure the use of identity cards aligns with their security measures. Despite the push for easier connections through identity cards, the emphasis on security remains paramount.
Members of EALA persistently call for the implementation of various agreements and laws, urging member states to abide by the EAC agreement to guide collective actions. The issue of travel costs within the EAC region was raised, noting that sometimes it surpasses the expenses of traveling to Europe, highlighting a need for effective solutions.
Joseph Ntakirutimana, the President of EALA, acknowledged these challenges but assured that efforts are underway to address them.
The EAC, now comprising eight countries following Somalia’s accession, continues its commitment to regional integration. Premier Ngirente, in a speech to the East African Legislative Assembly, commended progress in community projects and legislative achievements.
He stressed the high expectations of EAC citizens for positive changes in their lives through effective governance and called for the timely implementation of projects to enhance trade and business across the region
Despite acknowledging growth in intra-EAC trade, concerns about non-tariff barriers persist, emphasizing the need for sustainable financing solutions and efficient resource utilization. Rwanda reaffirmed its commitment to the regional vision, echoing the collective pursuit of a more integrated and prosperous East African Community.