The Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, on Tuesday morning engaged Senior Editors and Journalists at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala, Uganda.
As part of the Secretary General’s publicity and outreach programme to the Republic of Uganda, on the sidelines of the ongoing 5th Session of the East African Legislative Assembly sitting in Kampala, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko hosted a Media breakfast meeting, during which he expounded on his priorities during his five-year tenure which began in April 2016.
The Secretary General said he would focus on few priorities that will deliver quick results and on those that will touch on the lives of East Africans and address their basic needs such as food, health, education and improved incomes.
The Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko( M) with Uganda’s Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of EAC Affairs, Rt. Hon. Kirunda Kivejinja (L) and Dr James Njagu, Chief de Cabinet to the Secretary General.
He said a big percentage of EAC resources will be directed to sectors such as Agriculture, Health, Education, and Employment creation.
“To achieve this I will strive to establish strategic partnerships with the Development Partners, the Private Sector and also the Civil Society Organizations and of course with you, Members of the fourth Estate”, said Amb. Mfumukeko.
The Secretary General highlighted some of the key achievements in the regional integration process that include the robust implementation of the Single Customs Territory, which has resulted in drastic reduction of the period taken to clear goods from over 20 days to three (3) to four (4) days on the Central Corridor; and from 21 days to four (4) days from Mombasa to Kampala and 18 days to six (6) days to Kigali, on the Northern Corridor.
Amb. Mfumekeko disclosed that out of the 15 border towns earmarked to operate as One Stop Border Posts, 11 had already been completed, adding that 10 of these were already operational.
On the Common Market, the Secretary General said EAC Partner States had enacted new laws to conform to the Protocol, adding that currently Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda were allowing their respective citizens to enter and exit their territories using National Identity cards.
He added that the issuance of the International East African Electronic Passport by the Partner States will commence in the course of this year.
The Senior Editors and Journalists were informed that the process of establishing four (4) support institutions to support the Monetary Union was underway, namely the East African Monetary Institute; East African Statistics Bureau; East African Financial Services Commission, and: the East African Surveillance, Compliance and Enforcement Commission.
The Secretary General said the establishment of a strong Monetary Union would require a robust institutional framework to ensure compliance and safeguard the convergence process.
The Secretary General disclosed that as a show of confidence, key Development Partners had renewed their confidence in EAC integration agenda and were willing to upscale their support to the Community.
He said the most promising was the Partnership Fund, which had received over US$2.5 Million and about US$2.9 Million was still in the pipeline.
“In addition to this, I have since July last year signed financing agreements with the EU, Germany, USAID and World Bank amounting to a total of over US$300 Million to be implemented over the coming years. Most of these funds will be channelled to institutional strengthening within the EAC,” he said.
Amb. Mfumukeko cited the slow pace in harmonization of national laws and other instruments to conform to regional laws and instruments, as one of the challenges impacting the implementation of Community programmes and projects.
Other challenges include; inadequate political mobilization for the full implementation of the signed EAC Protocols; maintenance of the key macro-economic criteria essential for the establishment of one single market for financial services; delays in remittance of funds from Partner States and Development Partners to the Organs and Institutions of the Community, and; a long and tedious decision-making process.
“But for your information, Partner States have the capacity and are really working hard together with the Secretariat to mitigate these challenges,” said Amb. Mfumukeko.
The Secretary General pledged to work with the Media in Uganda and East Africa in general in order to intensify EAC’s outreach initiatives to the people of East Africa.
Also present at the media breakfast was Uganda’s Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of EAC Affairs, Rt. Hon. Kirunda Kivejinja, who reiterated Uganda’s commitment to the regional integration process.