The Chairperson of the Summit of East African Community Heads of State, Paul Kagame, has urged EAC Partner States to urgently address all matters impeding the swift implementation of the various regional integration projects and programmes.

“There is urgent need to take ownership of this integration agenda, and this includes Partner States remitting our statutory contributions on time,” said President Kagame. “As the African continent is coming together, the EAC has all that is needed and all that it takes to lead this process at the continental level,” he added.

President Kagame was speaking at Strategic Retreat of the EAC Council of Ministers and Heads of EAC Organs and Institutions at the Kigali Convention Center in Kigali, Rwanda. The Retreat was held under the theme, ‘Renewing our commitment to the objectives of the Community, accelerating our integration agenda’.

President Kagame noted that the Retreat offers an opportunity to focus on the EAC vision, and to make concrete plans on how this vision can be achieved.

President Kagame further said that that the EAC regional integration agenda should be focused on the people and the business community.

“We have to listen to the people and to the businesses; and it is only by working together that we will be able to spur economic growth in our region,” he said.

In his remarks, EAC Secretary General Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, said that the Retreat presented a key platform to not only celebrate the achievements registered by the Community in the past 20 years, but also an opportunity to collectively address the challenges in implementing the EAC integration agenda.

Amb. Mfumukeko said that since the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC was signed 20 years ago, the EAC had registered great achievements. These include the implementation of various projects and programmes under the Customs Union, Common Mark, Monetary Unions and Political Federation Pillars.

“Besides the multiple achievements registered, there are several challenges that hinder the effective implementation of the EAC integration agenda,” said Amb Mfumukeko, adding that non-compliance to signed Protocols by Partner States remains a crucial hurdle for the Community.

“In July 2019, we will be marking nine (9) years since the Common Market Protocol came into force. Unfortunately, some Partner States are yet to approximate or harmonize their national laws, policies and systems. As a result, the full implementation of the Common Market protocol remains challenging. Subsequently, the free movement of persons and factors of production anticipated to spur regional economic growth remain restrained,” said the Secretary General.

“These not only restrict the free movement of persons as enshrined in the Common Market Protocol, but also water down the achievements of the Community,” added the Secretary General.

Amb Mfumukeko further reiterated that while the late disbursement of statutory contributions by Partner States to the EAC affect the implementation of EAC activities, 50 per cent of the EAC main budget was currently donor funded and appealed to the Partner States to establish an alternative financing mechanism for the Community.

“There are issues that have been on the table for more than eight (8) years, such as the institutional Review and the Alternative Financing Mechanism for the Community”, he said.