The 17th Ordinary East African Community (EAC) Heads of State Summit is scheduled for February 29, in Arusha, Tanzania, with top on the agenda the consideration of reports by the EAC Council of Ministers on the negotiations on the admission of the Republic of South Sudan into the Community.
Other issues to be discussed include Sustainable Financing Mechanisms for the EAC, the EAC Institutional Review, and Council reports on: the Model, Structure and Action Plan of the EAC Political Federation; Implementation of the Framework for Harmonized EAC Roaming Charges; Modalities for Promotion of Motor Vehicle Assembly in the region and Reduction of the Importation of Used Motor Vehicles from Outside the Community, and; the Promotion of the Textile and Leather Industries in the region, and stopping importation of Used Clothes, Shoes and Other Leather Products from outside the region.
The Summit is also expected to deliberate on a report by the Council on the verification exercise for the admission of the Republic of Somalia into the EAC.
The Heads of State are expected to launch the new International East African e-passport (electronic-passport) during their meeting.
The Summit will be preceded by a meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers that will take place
Meanwhile, Sweden has pledged to continue supporting the East African Community integration process, with
the Swedish Ambassador to Tanzania and the EAC Ambassador Katarina Rangnitt, saying cooperation among the five EAC Partner States was crucial to relations between Sweden and East Africa.
Amb Rangnitt was speaking when she presented her credentials to the EAC Secretary General, Amb Dr Richard Sezibera at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Sweden has over the past nine years disbursed generous financial support amounting to 7,225,155 Swedish Kroner (US$851,676) to the EAC, monies that have been channeled through the EAC Partnership Fund.
Welcoming the Swedish envoy, Amb Dr Sezibera thanked Sweden for her support to the Community over the years noting that the Swedish support has been used for among other things the negotiations of the Economic Partnership Agreements between the EAC and the EU as well as boosting the health sector in the region.
Amb. Sezibera said the Partnership Fund has been used to finance not just the activities of the EAC Secretariat but the Community’s specialized institutions such as the Lake Victoria Basin Commission and the Inter-University Council of East Africa.
The Secretary General briefed Amb. Rangnit on the progress of the EAC integration saying the Community had made many achievements since the signing of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC on 30th November, 1999.
Amb. Sezibera said the EAC was seeking to ensure that the regional airspace was a unified territory throughout East Africa.
“As we increasingly become an effective Customs Union on the ground, we shall have to do the same for East Africa’s Airspace,” he said, adding that you cannot have a Customs Union on the ground only.
The Secretary General said the Community requires a lot of support to facilitate trade in services noting that significant progress had already been recorded in the free movement of goods as enshrined in the Common Market Protocol.
He pointed out other achievements as the reduction of Non-Tariff Barriers to the free movement of goods, the convertibility of the Partner States national currencies and cooperation in the development of infrastructure.
“Our Infrastructure programmes are largely on track. Many of the One Stop Border Posts have been completed, and are being operationalized. I congratulate the Partner States for ratifying the One Stop Border Bill, and the Axle Weight Control Bill. This puts our Community in good stead to strengthen the operations of our Customs Union,” he said.
He disclosed that the EAC Heads of State Summit had agreed on a 10-year Infrastructure Development Strategy which among other things lays emphasis on public-private partnership investments in railways, roads, ports and energy in the region.
Amb Rangnitt was accompanied by Mr Ludvig Bontell, the Political and Commercial Affairs attaché at the Swedish Embassy in Dar es Salaam.