MINISTRY OF EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY (MINEAC) Inter-State Council of Ministers Meeting Rubavu, 31 July 2015
§ HON. MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATION, DRC
§ HON. MINISTER OF TRANSPORT, REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
§ HON. MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND PUBLIC WORKS, REPUBLIC OF BURUNDI
§ HON. MINISTER OF TRANSPORT, REPUBLIC OF RWANDA
§ REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA
§ EXECUTIVE SECRETARY; CENTRAL CORRIDOR TRANSIT TRANSPORT FACILITATION AGENCY-Madame RUKIA Shamte
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN;
Good Morning and Welcome to Rubavu!
It is my pleasure to be here at this important Central Corridor regional meeting. Thank you for coming and for your commitment to this regional integration agenda. As you work to make this meeting productive, I hope you will also find time to visit and enjoy Rubavu!
This gathering is timely and relevant for all of us as it provides us with an opportunity to take stock of progress since we last met in Dar es Salaam, in March 2015.
We are all gathered here as key stakeholders because the Central Corridor is an important trading route for our respective countries. For Rwanda alone, this corridor accounts for over 70% of the regional trade. Therefore, initiatives aimed at improving the Central Corridor will have a direct impact on business and citizen welfare not only in Rwanda but the region as a whole. We therefore have an important responsibility to our principals and fellow citizens to unlock the potential that exists.
During the first Central Corridor Presidential Round Table and Investor Forum, our respective Heads of State and Governments set out to accelerate the implementation of select and economically viable projects that make up the Central Corridor. The recurring theme and message by our respective Heads of State was: engagement; effective coordination and frequent consultations will help drive focus and obtain results. The question is: how far are we with implementation?
I am glad to note that we have made progress but we need to do more to translate the abundant political will into tangible results. We have the mandate to ensure timely delivery of results expected of us. Opportunities exist for us to make regional integration concrete in a way never seen before. We need to add a greater dose of urgency and stamina, because success along the way will generate new challenges to solve.
I therefore wish to thank all of you Ministers/Heads of Delegation and delegates from partner countries for your continuous engagement. I have followed with keen interest the developments since we met in March and I must express my gratitude to the Central Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency Secretariat, and the Executive Secretary Madam Rukia Shamte for effectively taking up the challenge put to the Agency by the Heads of State last March – to coordinate and facilitate the implementation of identified projects and policies – with a renewed sense of urgency. Your role is central.
However, the key to success lies in implementation because only through implementation of these projects and policies will our corridor become a high-value development corridor for our people and countries, by making it more attractive for investors and users alike.
Your efforts during the course of the last two weeks are the best testimony that effective implementation happens through ownership; mutual accountability at all levels, from Senior Officials to Heads of State; frequent and engaged consultations, and a results-oriented mindset.
It is encouraging to note that through regular consultations and engagement, we have all set out to accelerate the implementation of existing trade facilitation initiatives along the central corridor that will deliver quick wins in the near future. For instance, trade facilitation measures implemented along the Central Corridor aimed at making it easier to trade across borders have already started to bear results. Let me point out a few examples:
- Introduction of the Single Customs Territory since June 2014 at the Dar es Salaam Port;
- Transit time has been reduced from 10 to 6 days from Dar-es-Salaam to Kigali;
- Police Road Blocks have been reduced to 8 in 2014, from 53 roadblocks in 2010 along the Central Corridor transit route;
- Introduction of Electronic Cargo tracking system for all types of cargo and as a result, trucks no longer stop at all 4 revenue check points along the corridor.
The end goal with the above initiatives is the complete elimination of remaining NTBs and NTMs on the Central Corridor. The objective of this is to drastically reduce transport costs; improve the turnaround time for trucks; and finally – translate these gains and improvements into price reduction in our domestic market, as well as boost our manufacturing and export competitiveness. And this is just the beginning!
I am reliably informed that there is general consensus on key priority projects to be implemented following the extensive consultations across the 10 clusters agreed. Fortunately, we have all they key players present here so that we can swiftly address any issues, and seek convergence where we have divergent views.
We need to make sure, that the views and interests of all stakeholders have not only been heard, but that they are also integrated and harmonised. That is the only way for us to move together, with a shared sense of focus and urgency.
We cannot afford any further delays because the cost of delay is too high, and it is our businesses and citizens who will ultimately pay that price in the form of lost opportunities.
It is up to each and every one of us to set the agenda, communicate it, and build the mutually-beneficial public-private partnerships that are required to get things done.
Let us leave Rubavu with a renewed sense of commitment and urgency.
I look forward to our deliberations and to a successful outcome.
Thank you for your kind attention!