The East African Community (EAC) has recorded a 2.3 billion US dollars economic growth in four years. The intra-EAC trade grew from 3.5 billion US dollars in 2009 to about 5.8 US dollars in 2013.
This announcement was made by President Uhuru Kenyatta during the 16th EAC Heads of States summit held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC).
Kenyatta noted that the growth presents a possibility and opportunity for higher volumes of trade across the borders saying that the business community in the region has continuously explored the available opportunities.
“I commend our region’s business community for embracing the vast opportunities which come with integration, and encourage them to make greater use of them. This will create more wealth and deliver more jobs for our young population,” said Kenyatta.
“The impressive growth and promise of intra-Community trade has been accompanied and underpinned by greater regional connectivity through enabling infrastructure development.”
Kenyatta noted that over the last 2 years, projects and programmes designed to promote intensive integration have so far been completed with construction work having commenced on several cross-border roads such as the Voi-Taveta-Arusha road and numerous sections of the Northern and Central Corridors.
“Feasibility studies are currently being conducted on a number of other roads. These road projects are necessary to grow cross-border movement and trade,” he added.
He added that Partner States have made significant investments in the modernisation and expansion of the railway network throughout the region.
“Whilst such projects are inevitably capital-intensive, the region shares the awareness of their immense long-term benefits. Our unwavering commitment to this investment is therefore borne of a strong, visionary consensus.”
On the One-Stop Border Posts at major boundary points, the Head of State noted that there has been tremendous progress with a number already complete and awaiting official opening. These include Lunga Lunga and Taveta on the Tanzania-Kenya border as well as Rusumo on the Uganda-Rwanda border.
Upon commencement of full operations, the facilities will support efficient transactions in across the region by reducing clearance times by up to 40%.
On the costs of telecommunication, Kenyatta noted that, “We have acknowledged that the high cost of roaming calls across the region is an unnecessary impediment to trade and communication in our Community. It is unacceptable that in many instances, calling outside our continent is much cheaper than communicating within our region. In the spirit of East African integration, therefore, innovative interventions leading to substantial reduction of calling charges are overdue. The implementation of a One-Area Network by Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya is an excellent beginning.”
“Already, calls within this Network have reduced to about 12 US cents per minute, while there are no charges for incoming calls. This tremendous benefit will be shared within the entire East African Community when the region adopts harmonized calling rates in July this year.”
He said that the regional bloc has made notable progress in eliminating Non-Tariff Barriers to intra-Community trade.