Uhuru calls for integration among EAC states
President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for progressive integration as a way of achieving common prosperity of citizens of the East African Community (EAC) member states.
Speaking on Saturday night during a state banquet hosted in his honour by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at Entebbe State House, President Kenyatta said joint efforts by EAC leaders have helped eliminate trade barriers and increase economic prosperity.
“As we move forward with this agenda, it is my hope, belief and prayer that with the kind of deepening cooperation witnessed in our lifetime, we may live to see a true East African Federation.”
“Federation where people of the region stand together, work together and share the prosperity that God has given us,” said President Kenyatta.
The President said collective efforts, including contacts at the highest levels, have accelerated consolidation of friendly relations and growth in trade and commercial interaction.
He challenged bureaucrats to formulate policies that facilitate integration rather than hinder East Africans from doing business and communicating with each other.
“We were chatting our bilateral way forward when bureaucrats started telling us about legal aspects as concerns movement of certain goods and services.”
“I reminded them that if you go across to Busia or Namanga on the border with Tanzania, these people don’t recognise what you are doing in Nairobi and Kampala, they are moving and doing business freely,” he added.
The president urged government officials to reduce bureaucracy and facilitate people to deepen cooperation instead of introducing hurdles that hinder progress.
President Kenyatta pointed out that the two sister states of Kenya and Uganda need to learn from past challenges and fast track integration for the benefit of all EAC member states.
He regretted that artificial boundaries created by the colonialist had become the main source of conflict in Africa.
“Our mission as leaders today is to devise means of removing these boundaries to enable our people co-exist as one, solving a common problem and enjoying shared prosperity,” said the president.
Reduced cargo processing time
On his part, President Museveni thanked former Presidents Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya and Hassan Mwinyi of Tanzania for resurrecting the idea of shared prosperity.
He said East African Cooperation is based on the foundation of shared prosperity and commended President Kenyatta for adding impetus to faster integration.
“When President Kenyatta came to the scene, he asked a question which lingered in my mind for a long time. Why should a container of goods from the port of Mombasa to Kampala take 18 days?” President Museveni posed.
He said through President Kenyatta, efficiency has been enhanced at the port of Mombasa drastically reducing time taken to process and transport cargo from the port to Kampala from 18 to three days.
President Museveni noted that with the efforts to modernise railway infrastructure, containers would take only 24 hours to Uganda.
He said his government would continue collaborating with Kenya to ensure sustainable regional peace and security, adding that the two countries have closely worked together in stabilizing Somalia and sorting out issues facing South Sudan.
The banquet was also attended by First Ladies Margaret Kenyatta and Janet Museveni, and senior government officials of the two nations.
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