The President of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete has called for more funding and planning to implement the East Africa Community and economic and political integration projects.
He says that East African countries are repeating great benefits from the economic integration efforts so far achieved.
Kikwete said this while delivering the State of the East African Community Address to the East Africa Legislative Assembly as Chairperson of the East Africa Community Heads of State.
He said despite earlier worries, the Customs Union has had a positive impact by increasing the volume and value of trade among the economies of the EAC Partner States. Kiwkete says by comparison, between 2005 and 2008 intra-East African Community trade increased from USD1,847.3 million to USD 2,715.4 million. He noted that government revenues which were feared would drop have not and, instead, there is evidence of increase.
He expressed optimism that the five EAC member states would effectively make the step towards a single customs territory whereby duties for imported goods are paid at the port of entry. Kikwete told the EAC Africa MPs that evasion of tax that could be done by some unscrupulous importers in the name of transit goods could be avoided.
He also called for the removal of infrastructure related barriers to enable smooth flow of trade and people of the East African region. He said good physical infrastructure such as roads, railways, ports, inland water ways, airports, energy and telecommunications are essential for a well functioning customs union and common market which the five EAC member countries of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have already agreed on. The East African Common Market becomes effective on July 1st 2010.
“It is not possible for our nations to realise the full benefits of regional integration where there is no reliable infrastructure. For sure the markets will not be accessible, hence render all of our effort an exercise in futility,” Kikwete said.
He also called for more efforts to mitigate the effects of drought on food security and agriculture productivity in East African countries, noting that better disaster preparedness is necessary to help EAC countries from adverse effects of climate change.