KENYAN President Mwai Kibaki has bid farewell to Tanzanians yesterday as he inaugurated the head offices of the East African Community in the city of Arusha.
This was his final task in his capacity as chairperson of East African Community's heads of State Summit. President Kibaki inaugurated the newly constructed EAC building on behalf of the other four presidents, including Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete, who witnessed the inauguration event.
Mr Kibaki will hand over the EAC Heads of State Summit leadership to his Ugandan counterpart, Mr Yoweri Museveni, during the 2012 Heads of State Summit Meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, this weekend.
Mr Museveni, as well as Rwanda's President Paul Kagame and Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza, did not attend the Arusha function. The Kenyan Head of State is left with only three months in office.
He will be replaced by a new president early next year when his country holds its general elections. Mr Kibaki, who has accomplished his maximum 10-year term in office will not contest.
"The EAC building we are opening today should be an edifice of the several milestones that the community has undergone, including the accomplishment of the common market protocol, regional customs union and the expansion which saw EAC grow from three to five member states," said President Kibaki.
He, however, pointed out that a lot more needs to be done including improving and adding more infrastructures such as roads, railways and electricity supply at regional levels. The just unveiled East African Community Headquarters' premises here has, on the other hand, set a record for being the first project to be realized in time with a saving of 3.3 billion/-.
The planned budget for the construction of the state-of-the-art, East African Community Headquarters was 30.2 billion/- but the project works, according to the EAC Senior Estate Management Officer, Dr Phil-Makini Kleruu, has taken slightly over 26 billion/-.
"The EAC headquarters' premises should go down the annals of history as an exemplary project which has managed to save 3.3 billion/- from the initially planned budget in addition to being completed in time," said Dr Kleruu.
The new EAC structure consists of three wings and each block has four floors with a central podium that is intended to serve as the chambers for the East African Legislative Assembly but judging from recent sessions held there, the podium is already too small for the task.
The building stands on a ten-acre Plot number 12 of Block 111 in the Sekei Ward of the city next to the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) which was coincidentally constructed by the former EAC which collapsed in 1977.
Starting out as tenant to the now Parastatal Arusha International Conference Centre, the EA community secretariat used to pay annual rents amounting to US $450,000 which is nearly 600m/- to the Arusha International Conference Centre where it had set up a number of its offices.
The EAC was also renting additional office space and paying additional rents to the New Safari Hotel Building and the Diamond Trust complex where it has outsourced tenancy due to limited space at the AICC.
The Federal Government of Germany granted the community funds for the construction of its own premises when the project was announced back in 2006 but had to be shelved after it became apparent that the initial funding was inadequate and the EAC had to apply for more grants. Germany granted the EAC 14 million Euros equivalent to 30.2/- billion for the construction of the community's headquarters.