THE East African Community (EAC) Secretary General, Ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko, has hailed the strong relations between the EAC and the Federal Republic of Germany as he received credentials from a new diplomat from the European Union nation.
Speaking after receiving credentials from Ambassador Dr Detlef Waechter who starts his tour of duty for Tanzania and the EAC, Ambasador Mfumukeko noted that Germany had provided generous technical and financial support to the EAC for almost two decades.
He informed Dr Waechter of the significant progress made by the EAC in the four pillars of integration, namely the Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union and Political Federation, adding that the Community had made great strides in the said pillars, thanks to political goodwill by the leaders of the partner states.
The Secretary General said the EAC, together with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), were at an advanced stage in the negotiations for the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) that brings together 26 countries with a market of over 600 million people.
He reaffirmed EAC's commitment to exploit its human and natural resources for the benefit of the entire region, saying that significant achievements had already been recorded in trade, customs and infrastructure development.
He noted that East Africa had a big population of educated but unemployed youth, hence the way forward was for the Community to focus on modernising the agricultural sector through provision of agricultural inputs, value addition and technology.
In his remarks, Dr Waechter assured the Secretary General of his country's commitment to working closely with EAC, to enable the Community attain its objectives in the integration process.
The Ambassador said Germany was keen to share with the EAC its experiences in the European integration, adding that the EAC could learn from the EU in addressing some of the emerging challenges in the integration process.
Ambassador Mfumukeko also received credentials from Uganda's new High Commissioner to Tanzania and the EAC, Mr Richard Kabonero.
He informed the diplomat that in addition to the implementation of the Customs Union, Common Market and Monetary Union protocols, the EAC was currently mobilising resources for diverse infrastructure development projects, including railways and roads.
He said the Community was seeking ways to reduce the high rate of unemployment in the region and that plans were underway to adopt Kiswahili as a lingua franca of the Community.
In his remarks, Ambassador Kabonero commended initiatives being made by the EAC to address climate change, drought, food security and desertification in the region.
He said joint infrastructure development initiatives, including the oil pipeline from Lake Albert in Uganda to the Tanzanian Port of Tanga would boost economic activities in the two countries.