East African Community Heads of State are expected to convene in Uganda's capital Kampala next week to discuss a number of regional matters, including infrastructure and health sector growth.
Olivier Nduhungirehe, the State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East African Community, confirmed to The New Times on the agenda includes a two-day Joint EAC Heads of State Retreat on Infrastructure and Health Financing and Development.
The meeting will be held between February 21 and 22 and will be followed a day later by the 19th Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State, which will also be held in Kampala.
"We are going to examine the progress of EAC agenda; looking into a number of issues facing the regional bloc, ranging from EAC financing to infrastructure development," Nduhungirehe said yesterday.
EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko said in a statement that preparations are in "high gear" for the joint Heads of State retreat themed "Deepening and widening regional integration through Infrastructure and Health Sector Development in the EAC Partner States"
Mfumukeko, who was speaking at a news conference held at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, to update the media on the upcoming Joint EAC Heads of State Retreat and 19th Ordinary Summit, said that the former is aimed at accelerating the attainment of the objectives of the EAC Development Strategy, African Union Agenda 2063, and the Sustainable Development Goals in the infrastructure and health sectors in the EAC.
He said the joint retreat is expected to harness political support for regional flagship projects, funding commitments, and public-private partnership arrangements.
Mfumukeko said that the EAC had identified infrastructure development and health as sectors in which it would have to invest massive resources to spur economic growth and prosperity in East Africa.
"Let me assure you that EAC investment in infrastructure projects and health development continues to receive the utmost political attention by none other than EAC Heads of State," Mfumukeko said in the statement.
He said the retreat would also be preceded by separate infrastructure and health sector investors' and donors' round-tables on 21st February 2018.
He added that the 4th Joint Retreat Programme will include an International Infrastructure and Health Sector Exhibition that will run from 21st to 22nd February, 2018.
The exhibition will provide a platform for players in the Infrastructure and Health sectors to showcase new products and services as well as exhibit latest advances in research and innovation.
Nduhungirehe also confirmed to The New Times that the Presidents will deliberate on the US economic policy on Africa, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
In 2015, the EAC Heads of State adopted a three-year gradual process to phase out the importation of second-hand clothes and footwear to promote the textile, apparel and leather industries in the region.
US is currently reviewing Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania's eligibility to AGOA after the three EAC states remained firm on their pronouncement to phase out second-hand clothing to facilitate the growth of domestic factories even as the US asked the block to remove the limit on used clothing from the West.