Unity Key for EAC’s Transformation, says Kagame

President Kagame has warned that the goals of the region and the continent would not be achieved if African leaders get lost in counterproductive divisions and prioritise narrow interests over the common good.

During his address to the special sitting of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) at Parliament this week, price President Kagame highlighted the importance of working together to advance everybody’s interests.

“There are two parts of this to keep in mind. First, cheap when the good progress made internally by each country is aggregated, the benefits are even better for everybody in our region,” said Kagame.

“Second, there is no disadvantage from minding each other’s business, which simply means taking our respective needs and interests seriously and indeed adopting them as common objectives.”

President Kagame pointed out that as a result of political will in response to the aspirations of citizens, East African members had worked together to significantly deepen regional integration.

“People move more freely than ever before and communication within the region has become more affordable and convenient. It is easier to trade and do business with each other and we are collaborating to expand energy and transportation infrastructure,” he noted.

“All this has generated a good deal of excitement among our citizens and in the markets as well. East Africa is increasingly perceived as a region on the move. We have to continue to meet these high expectations. We therefore count on you, in the oversight role of our regional legislature, to help ensure we maintain momentum and stay on course.”

The President maintained that Rwanda’s commitment to the regional bloc, ten years after acceding to the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC was stronger than ever before, he said, lauding the Partner States for their significant contribution to the EAC and for working together to deepen regional integration.

“Much of this is as a result of political will in responding to the needs and the aspirations of our citizens of the region,” Kagame said.

The President said a united Africa was key and took the opportunity to inform the regional legislators of reforms aimed at strengthening the African Union by ensuring it is sustainably financed by Africa’s own resources.

“We need an African Union that is fit-for-purpose. Our continent must also have a strong and unified voice that clearly communicates the aspirations and positions of Africa on the global stage,” President Kagame said.

The President said the Heads of State had agreed to transform the annual July Summit of the continental bloc into a co-ordination meeting with the Regional Economic RECs.

“This means that greater contributions will be needed from all of you as the region’s legislators, both as strong advocates for the imperative of reform and as champions for closer cooperation between the EAC and the African Union Commission,” he added.

President Kagame further challenged the regional Assembly to enhance its oversight role in ensuring the EAC meets its desired objectives.

“We therefore count on you, in the oversight role of our regional legislature to help ensure we maintain momentum and stay on course,” he said.

In attendance were Members of the Senate, Chamber of Deputies and high ranking government officials from the Republic of Rwanda.

Kidega speaks

The Speaker of the Assembly, Hon. Daniel F. Kidega in his remarks reiterated the need for the region to collectively address and find solutions to the challenges it faces citing some of them as pursuit for peace and security, drought, climate change and the unemployment bulge.

“Ideally, time has come for the EAC to draw on its collective economic, social and intellectual resources to address the imminent challenges it faces”, Speaker Kidega said.

“Excellency, of equal importance is tolerance by Partner States within the framework of the integration process, to tackle the region’s pursuit for peace and security, drought, Climate Change, the unemployment bulge and other pressing issues”, he added.

The Speaker called for concerted effort towards the industrialization process of the region.

“There is need to embrace industrialization by instituting supportive trade related policies and frameworks that grant Partner States the right to nurture nascent industries in order to develop their competitiveness and grow economies”, Speaker Kidega noted.

He said the EAC was looking towards greatly benefitting from the operationalization of the Single Customs Territory resulting in increased intra-regional trade. In this regard, Rt Hon Kidega called for emphasis on investor confidence, enterprise and creation of a conducive environment to spur trade.

At this sitting, which is the last for Kigali under the principle of rotation before the 3rd Assembly winds its tenure; three key Bills are on the agenda.

These are the EAC Gender Equality and Development Bill, 2016, the EAC Polythene Materials Control Bill, 2016 and the EAC Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Bill, 2016.


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