The East African Community (EAC) has secured US$1.4 million for a feasibility study on a key section of the Northern Transport Corridor linking the Republic of Kenya and the Republic of Uganda.
The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Eng. Steven Mlote, disclosed that the funding from the African Development Bank would be used to conduct feasibility studies on the 256 km multinational Kisumu-Kisian-Busia/Kakira – Malaba-Busitema-Busia expressway project.
Eng. Mlote further said that part of the AfDB funding would also be for the feasibility studies for the upgrading of the Malaba, Busia and Lwakhakha border posts along the Kenya-Uganda border.
Eng. Mlote further revealed that the Secretariat had also secured a commitment of 10 million Euros from the Federal Government of Germany in December 2022 for purposes of financing of feasibility studies towards upgrading trade infrastructure in the region.
Eng. Mlote was speaking during the opening session of the EAC Sectoral Council on Transport, Communications and Meteorology (SCTCM) that was held in Bujumbura, Burundi from 6th – 10th February, 2023.
Speaking during the opening session, the Chairperson of the Meeting who is also Burundi’s Minister for Infrastructure, Equipment and Social Housing, Captain Dieudonne Dukundane, emphasised the importance of introducing performance indicators in the TCM report in future as a way of assessing progress in the implementation of the directives of the sectoral council.
The SCTCM directed the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Burundi to implement the EAC Roaming Framework by August 30, 2023 and provide the status of implementation to the next Summit of the EAC Heads of State.
The meeting also further directed the United Republic of Tanzania to make the necessary statutory amendments towards the implementation of the 16th Summit directives (issued on 15th July, 2015) with respect to roaming and surcharges on traffic from Partner States.
In addition, the Ministers directed Tanzania to ensure that the amendments are done in the following areas: wholesale tariff (i.e. inter-operator tariff) shall be capped at US$0.07/Min for traffic originating and terminating within EAC; retail tariff shall be capped at US$ 0.10/Min, inclusive of taxes, for traffic originating and terminating within EAC.
Also, there shall be no charges for receiving roaming calls originating within the EAC in addition to the removal of surcharges for international Traffic originating and terminating within the EAC.
The EAC Roaming Framework or One Network Area was meant to harmonise mobile and data roaming charges across the region and make affordable calls starting from and ending within the region, in addition to enhancing intra-regional trade. The framework-imposed price caps on roaming charges and called for the removal of surcharges on cross-border telecommunications traffic originating and terminating within the East African Community.
The framework was developed and approved by the 30th Meeting of the Council of Ministers in 2014 and endorsed by the EAC Heads of State in February 2015. So far, the Republics of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan have implemented the framework.
On the roads sector, the meeting directed the Secretariat in collaboration with Partner States to develop a performance measurement toolkit (PMT) to assist in assessing the performance of the OSBPs in the EAC with a view to inform policy decision making.
The TCM Meeting further directed the Secretariat to convene a regional meeting of Partner States experts to consider the initiatives being undertaken under the OSBP Phase 2 programme and to receive new border points connecting to the DRC, the bloc’s newest EAC Partner State.
On the water transport sector, TCM directed the Secretariat to fast track the development of the Regional Maritime Transport Policy and report progress to the 19th TCM, meeting. The ministers also directed the Secretariat to convene a meeting of maritime transport experts to review progress in the development of the Regional Maritime Transport Policy.
The Ministers further recommended to Council to establish the position of Maritime Officer in the Directorate of Infrastructure at the EAC Secretariat to handle regional maritime matters, as proposed in the new EAC Institutional Structure.
On meteorological services, the Sectoral Council on TCM directed Partner States that had not ratified the Protocol on Cooperation in Meteorological Services, to complete the ratification of the EAC Protocol on Cooperation of Meteorological Services as directed by 18th Ordinary Summit Directive to Partner States and deposit with the Secretary General the instruments of ratification of outstanding protocols by June 30, 2023.
Only the Republic of Kenya has ratified the Protocol and deposited the instruments of Ratification with the Secretary General. The objective of protocol is to promote cooperation in the provision of meteorological services within the EAC Community.
The meeting also reiterated its directives to Republics of Burundi, Kenya and South Sudan to expedite the transformation of their Meteorological Departments to Meteorological Authorities as directed by 16th TCM.
On air transport, the TCM Meeting directed Partner States to finalize national consultations with relevant stakeholders on the mechanisms required to reduce the cost of air fares in the region and submit their recommendations to the EAC Secretariat by end of March 2023. Ministers also directed EAC Secretariat to convene a meeting of EAC Sub Committee on Air Transport to harmonise the reports from National Consultative meetings in the Partner States by 25th April 2023.
On convening the 5th Retreat of the Summit of Heads of State on Infrastructure Development and Financing, the Ministers directed the Secretariat to develop a concept paper and budget in readiness for convening the retreat.