New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: New EAC Head Office in Arusha Opened

The Presidents of the EAC member states have officially inaugurated the new multi-billion headquarters in Arusha.

The building came at a hefty cost of 14.8 million Euros (about Ugsh52 billion).

Germany, which financed the construction of the new elegant building in the centre of Arusha, was represented by a high-ranking delegation.

EAC Summit chairman President Mwai Kibaki said that the headquarters demonstrated the Partner States' unity and commitment to the integration process.

"Our presence here symbolizes our unity," he said at the colourful ceremony attended by Presidents Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and Rwanda's Prime Minister Damien Habumuremyi.

However, more has to be done to deepen the integration, President Kibaki said, especially in the areas of regional infrastructure, roads, railways and energy sectors.

The Kenyan President also called for elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers through legally binding enforcement mechanisms.

The new building, he said, would enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the EAC secretariat and its organs.

The chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers, Kenya's Minister for EAC Affairs Musa Sirma, said that the region bore testimony of a long experience in integration issues.

The EAC Partner States are committed to ensuring prosperity for their people, Mr Sirma said.

The EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera, said that the construction of the building would help in meeting the needs of the deepening co-operation among the Partner States.

He said the building offers the flexibility of expansion once new members are admitted to the current five-nation bloc.

Egon Kochanke, Director for Africa of Germany´s Federal Foreign Office, and Dr Ulla Mikota, Director for Africa of Germany's Federal Ministry for Development Cooperation, said that Germany shares the vision of the East African Community to build a prosperous, competitive, secure and politically united East Africa.

Kochanke underlined Germany´s motives for the support: "Germany by its own experience is persuaded of the merits of integration and therefore considers regional integration key for peace and security as well as economic development in the region. The challenges for East Africa are growing, therefore we highly welcome the ambitious political commitments of the Presidents of the five EAC member states."

The construction of the new EAC Headquarters' building was financed through the German Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW).

Designed by Archis Architects of Germany, the office complex covers a total area of 14,925 square metres comprising three four-storey wings.

The simple and free flowing buildings combining tradition and modernity blend nicely with the urban environment.

"Germany has been supporting the East African Community for 13 years now, since its beginnings. The new Headquarters building is an outstanding and visible sign of the close ties between EAC and Germany. We hope that the new home of the EAC will be a tool for further regional integration," said Dr Mikota.

In the presence of the EAC Presidents, the EAC Secretariat and Germany signed financial support agreements of 26 million Euros for three years.

The German-EAC-programme will focus on institutional strengthening of the EAC Secretariat and on supporting the implementation of the Customs Union and Common Market Protocols. This includes the elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers, tax harmonization as well as Mutual Recognition Agreements for qualifications.

Germany will also support the EAC in promoting private investment, especially in the pharmaceutical sector and in renewable energy.

Since 1996, German support to the EAC has amounted to almost 82 million Euros. This regional cooperation complements the German bilateral cooperation with Tanzania, which amounts to 1.8 billion Euros over the past five decades.

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