STATEMENT BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY AMB. DR. RICHARD SEZIBERA AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE 16th ORDINARY MEETING OF THE SUMMIT OF THE EAC HEADS OF STATE
Your Excellency, Jakaya Kikwete, President of The United Republic of Tanzania and Chairperson of the Summit of Heads of State;
Your Excellencies Members of the Summit of Heads of State;
Excellencies Guest of Heads of State;
The Chairperson of the Council of Ministers;
The Rt. Hon. Speaker, East African Legislative Assembly;
My Lord, the Judge President, East African Court of Justice;
Deputies Secretary General and Heads of Institutions;
Hon. Members of Parliament;
Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations;
Members of the Coordination Committee;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
I wish to welcome you to this Summit in this vibrant and beautiful city of Nairobi. I thank you, Your Excellencies for dedicating your precious time to consider matters that are deemed crucial to the integration of East Africa.
Welcome President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete;
I wish to Congratulate you, Your Excellency President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete on your Election as Chairperson of the Summit of Heads of State.
We look forward to your Leadership at this critical time of accelerated implementation of East African Integration. We shall give you all our support and dedication.
I wish to thank you, Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta for your leadership during your tenure as the Chair of the EAC Summit. You have inspired us, you have given us clear directions, and you have had a relentless focus on results.
This truly has been a productive year for East Africa. During your tenure, the Single Customs Territory has come into being, and is being implemented both on the Northern Corridor, and the Central Corridor. The results thereof speak for themselves. Non-Tariff Barriers have significantly come down.
The Summit on Infrastructure, held in November 2014, agreed on a detailed 10-year investment strategy for Infrastructure, and the focus on Rail, Energy improvements, East African Ports and Harbors, is beginning to show results.
The free movement of people received impetus in our Community. Students, business people, including those involved in the informal sector (Jua Kali), have received the attention they deserve. On Tuesday this week, I held our usual Consultations with the Private Sector, and the message is clear. They are happy to see action on the easing of doing business in our Region, they value the leadership of your Excellencies in making sure this happens, but they would like to see resolution of the remaining barriers to trade faster. They are bullish about our Region and I thank them.
After protracted negotiations beginning in 2007, for the first time in her history, East Africa reached agreement with Europe on her terms of trade with the continent, through an Economic Partnership Agreement.
I thank your Excellencies for insisting that East Africa Negotiate as a bloc, even during the most difficult moments. The spirit you nurtured is evident in the ongoing negotiations for a Tripartite Free Trade Area between EAC, COMESA, and SADC.
Ratification of a number of Protocols, including the Protocol on the East African Monetary Union was accelerated. The financial sector is increasingly integrated, and Monetary Policy Harmonization gathered momentum. Going forward, as the clock ticks on our journey towards a Single Currency, the pace of integration will have to accelerate.
Our statistics will have to be harmonized faster. We need to start thinking of holding our censuses in the same year, for example. The Institutions required to run a Monetary Union will have to be given authority to do so effectively, and efficiently. And - we shall have to change the way we do our business, to become more efficient, make decisions faster, focus on implementation, and be more agile in making corrections where this is needed.
Today, you will sign the Protocol on Extended Jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice, to enable it cover Trade and other matters under the Common Market.
This has been eagerly awaited by East Africans for many years. Thank you for your leadership in making sure negotiations are completed. I look forward to its speedy ratification.
And, in a time of threats and emergencies, you have made sure East Africa remains safe. The Counter-terrorism strategy you agreed on is under implementation. The Region came together at a time of Ebola, not only to develop Regional Response Plans, but to also contribute to supporting our brothers and sisters in West Africa, most affected by the disease.
Thanks to your leadership, even in a time of multifaceted security challenges, our Region is safer, and stronger.
Our Region is safer and stronger, but it is also more prosperous.
In the past one year, the EAC total trade with the rest of the world maintained an upward trend by posting a growth rate of 8.3 percent in 2013 compared to what was recorded in 2012.
On the investment front, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to EAC increased by 6.6 percent to US$ 3.7 billion in 2013 compared to what was recorded in 2012.
We are in good position to benefit from an eventual Tripartite Free Trade Area that will result in the establishment of an integrated market of 26 countries, with a combined population of almost 600 million people (57% of the AU population); total Gross Domestic Product of about US$ 1 trillion (58% the continent’s GDP); half of the African Union (AU) in terms of membership.
We as a Community should be ready to utilize the massive opportunities that will come with this Continental Free Trade Area that is expected in 2017.
The current rapid urbanization and industrialization, taking place in our region are pushing high demand for electricity. In fact the demand in East Africa is expected to grow at approximately 5.3 percent per year until 2020. To meet these requirements, by some estimates, generation capacity will have to increase by 37.7 percent in Uganda, 96.4 percent in Kenya, 75.3 percent in Tanzania and 115 percent in Rwanda.
I would like to commend your Excellencies for your leadership in this sector, exemplified by the Republic of Kenya commissioning the Olkaria IV Power Plant, the world’s largest single turbine geothermal power plant, which is expected to add 140-Mega Watts to the regional electricity grid.
Your Excellencies, I am confident that the East African Integration will accelerate, anchored on the Principles of Good Governance that underlie our Treat. As a Community, and at the request of the Partner States, East Africa will be in solidarity with, and accompany our brothers and sisters in the Republic of Burundi and The United Republic of Tanzania as they go through their Elections, and/or vote in new Constitutions.
East African Legislative Assembly;
Your Excellencies, I would like to acknowledge that the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) had some turbulence last year. I am happy to report that the August Assembly EALA resolved the issues according to their Rules of Procedure, and have now seriously embarked on their mandate. I wish to recognize, in particular, the Rt. Hon. Dan Kidega, Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, who is attending this Summit for the first time as Speaker.
Farewell to Dedicated Staff;
I wish to pay tribute to the distinguished East Africans who have made their contribution to the Community, and whose terms of service are coming to an end.
§ the Hon. Mr. Justice James Munange Ogoola, Judge of the EACJ, Appellate division, whose term ends in August;
§ Hon. Mr. Justice Jean Bosco Butasi, Principal Judge, whose term will end in June 2015;
§ the Hon. Abdul Karim Harelimana, Member of the East African Legislative Assembly.
Your Excellencies, I would like to take this opportunity to thank:
§ Mr. Jean Claude Nsengiyumva for his dedication to the Community during his 6 years of service as Deputy Secretary General.
§ Mr Barry Kashambo, Executive Director, CASSOA, has resigned to take up the important post of Director, East African Region, ICAO. We congratulate him.
§ Prof Mayunga Nkunya, Executive Director, Inter-University Council for East Africa's term is coming to an end. I think him for his exemplary service to the Community.
§ I would also like to pay tribute to Hon. Wilbert Kaahwa, Counsel to the Community who had been with the Community since the early stages of its revival in (1996).
Later today, you will award certificates to winners of the EAC Secondary Schools Essay Competition.
I salute the increasing interest of young people across East Africa for the integration agenda. The Youth are getting more involved, some of them as EAC Youth Ambassadors. Allow me, to recognize the current Leader of the Kenyan chapter of the Youth Ambassadors Platform, Rachael Omkhulu.
As I conclude, I am glad to inform that the Religious Leaders in our Community have also come together, not only to support the Community, but to contribute to the search for solutions to the radicalization that distorts faith and promotes terrorism.
In their meeting held in Kigali in November 2014, they agreed on a platform, a message, and asked me to convey to you Excellencies, that they will continue to make their contribution to the security and prosperity of East Africa.
With these remarks, I wish the Summit success in its deliberations. And I thank you for your kind attention.
20 February 2015