KARIBU – MEACA Shares Opportunities, Benefits and Costs of the EAC Integration

Published By UNNGOF |  October 21, 2015

On 8th September 2015 at the Serena Conference Centre, the Ministry of East Africa Community Affairs (MEACA) held a Presidential Address on the theme “EAC: embrace your opportunity”. This was attended by over 200 participants from government Ministries, Departments and agencies, development partners, private sector, civil society and other interested citizens.

Addressing the meeting, Mr. Kateshumbwa Collins Dicksons, the URA Commissioner for Customs shared insights on the Customs Union that is geared towards mutual trading benefits among EAC partner states. He also highlighted the achievements of the customs union that include; Common Law; The East African Community Customs Management Act (EACCMA) established in 2005;Common trading policies; Common Duty rates-Duty free movement of goods; Common Coding and Description of goods; Mechanisms of eliminating Non-Trade Barriers (NTBs);Standardization of Quality Assurance and the implementation of the Single Customs Territory.

On behalf of the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, Mr. Ben Mujuni focused on the opportunities that have emerged due to the Free Movement of Goods, services and labour such as employment opportunities, increase in foreign investment; ease in cross border trade, embracing the use of national identity cards across borders among others. Lastly, he noted that work is in progress to operationalise the e-passport, which will be launched at the EAC summit in November 2015.

Ms Allen Asiimwe-Country Director, Trade Mark East Africa reiterated the need for increased awareness and information sharing on the EAC integration to make the integration process people centered. She also highlighted tangible benefits of the integration such as the Single Tourist Visa; use of  national Driving Permit in other partner states; the National Identity Card; One Area Network mostly in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda;  24 hour border posts in Busia, Katuna and others; and big regional projects such as the Standard Gauge Railway underway.

The Minister of State for East African Affairs, Hon Shem Bageine noted that MEACA is not only largely responsible for raising awareness but also providing information on implementation.  He applauded the achievement of the establishment of the Customs Union, the progress towards the EAC Monetary Union and Political Federation, highlighting that though there have been challenges, the EAC secretariat is drafting a federal constitution, which entails the mode of structure of the political federation for the region.

Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere, Minister of State for General Duties urged citizens to fully utilize the benefits of integration. He decried challenges in the integration process such as gaps in the implementation of the common market protocol emanating from lack of knowledge by implementers and citizens, small fragmented markets in partner states. Prof. Kabwegyere also recognized the opportunities that EAC integration presents like the trade partnerships with larger continental blocs that have attracted massive foreign direct investments in the region. He called upon citizens to appreciate their nationality before referring themselves as East Africans noting that “we are Ugandan enough before being East African”.

Lastly, Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere flagged off the caravan to Eastern Uganda through the selected route of Iganga, Tororo and finally Malaba border post. The caravan is part of a nation-wide campaign by the Ministry of East Africa Community Affairs to raise awareness on the benefits, opportunities and challenges of the EAC regional integration

Let’s Celebrate, Let’s integrate!