Kampala, Uganda — East African Community (EAC) Secretary General Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera hailed the staff of the institutions for the successful implementation of projects in 2012.
He said the Secretary General's chief executive officer's forum continues to be a success in mobilizing officer's of major companies around the integration agenda while the forum for civil society, private sector, and other interest groups held its inaugural forum 10-11 December 2012 in Dar es Salaam, in what promises to be a very vibrant forum.
He said that they have in the year 2012 seen a renewed determination to eliminate non tariff barriers including a growing willingness to innovate in this area, through the development of a binding legal mechanism, use of cargo tracking systems, single window schemes among others.
"The Ministerial visits to the ports of Dare es Salaam and Mombasa and the subsequent report to the Chair of the Summit during the year undoubtedly instilled within all of us a sense of urgency to deal with this issue," he said adding that the finance and budget directorate continues to refine processes and invest in IT as an enabler, with the result that all of them could have timely information on budget execution," said Sezibera in the new year message to all staff of the EAC institutions and organs issued last week in Arusha, Tanzania.
He pointed out that for the first time in a number of years, the Community is current on annual reports, as well as statutory reports on foreign policy coordination while progress has been made in production of trade reports in a timely manner although more needs to be done in this area.
He added that the first ever University debate on EAC integration was held with resounding success that resulted into identifying youth ambassadors and a renewed enthusiasm among this important segment of East Africans.
Dr. Sezibera said that partner states now have a model of the Political Federation for discussions and consultations produced by the Secretariat which is an important building stone towards a Political Federation of East Africa.
"The Media fraternity held so far the most successful summit in 2012 and they are pushing for implementation of the resolutions thereof as the community's use of Social Media continues to grow and at a single event, for example, in cooperation with Mindspeak, a Nairobi-based Outreach/Business Club Forum, I reached and interacted with well over 10,000 East Africans," he explained.
He said the first ever Children's Summit was held and all those who attended were imbued with a determination to build an East Africa worthy of the children of East Africa while the Inter University Council for East Africa, working in collaboration with the East African Business Council organized a forum bringing academia, industry, and research together to discuss what training needs to be given to the East Africans of tomorrow.
He said the Lake Victoria Basin Commission is focused on activities that benefit Communities dependent on this important resource and the Council of Ministers now have a clear legislative agenda, and a number of Bills have been introduced in the East African Assembly, and many more are in the pipeline.
He further explained that negotiations on the implementation of a Single Customs Territory are ongoing and that the Summit adopted a very clear list of priority projects in infrastructure, especially in rail transport, energy, ports and harbors as well as inland waterways, and the critical road network required to fasten the movement of goods out of our Ports and Harbors.
The Community has established a clear footprint in Climate change, being a trailblazing African regional economic community during the Rio Conference and in other for a during which the Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social sectors Jesca Eriyo, was elected to the leadership of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
He said the health department successfully established an Open Health Initiative designed to accelerate the attainment of millennium development goals four and five in our region, adding that he was also elected to the board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).
"All Articles of the East African Monetary Union have been negotiated at a technical level; the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) Judge President and the Principal Judge have now taken residence in Arusha while the East African Legislative Assembly held a historic election that saw the first ever female Speaker at the helm of the Assembly.
The November 2012 Summit and related activities were held in two Partner States that saw the official opening of the new EAC Headquarters building, the official unveiling of the Arusha- Namanga-Athi River road, and a Heads of State Retreat on Infrastructure. For the first time ever, the Chairperson of the EAC Summit is also the Chairperson of COMESA and the ICGLR.
"I have pointed out this far from exhaustive list of innovations to point out that by any measure, 2012 was an extraordinarily successful year and as we begin 2013, I call upon all of you to redouble your efforts. As we continue to deal with whatever challenges we still face, we should avoid the temptation to permanently navel gaze."