Calls for concerted efforts to strengthen East African Community

The former Speaker of EALA, Rt. Hon Abdulrahman Kinana yesterday addressed the Assembly, urging the legislators to consolidate gains and to continue the push towards enactment of legislation strengthening regional integration.

The first Speaker delivered the message in a Special Sitting of the Assembly held at the Burundi National Assembly today. He termed the challenges faced by the EAC as surmountable if both the regional and national assemblies and other stakeholders enhance delivery, singularly and collectively.

Rt. Hon Kinana called for strategies that ensure sufficient production of food which he termed key to development. “As a region, we must give priority to food production. Real independence starts with the ability to feed ourselves”, the former Speaker said.

He urged the EAC to work towards broadening its market in order to attract foreign direct investments and to lower the high risks of doing business derived from high business costs, inadequacy of transport, communication and power infrastructure.

“We have to take advantage of Community’s well designed plans such as the Customs Union, the Common Market, the East African Road Network Plan, the East African Power Master Planto just mention a few. These plans when effectively implemented have proved to be of significant benefit”, Rt. Hon Kinana stated.

“For many years to come, the stability within our countries and in the region will largely depend on the level of delivery by our Governments singularly and as a bloc. The issues of increased production and productivity, trade, investments, job creation and better living conditions will determine the continued relevance and support to the EAC”, the former Speaker added.

 To realize the same, Rt. Hon Kinana underscored the need for democracy as an essential ingredient towards creation and sustenance of goals of development. “If democracy is limited to formal political processes without positively changing the living conditions and advancing social-economic development or at least providing realistic hope to our people, then one should expect the rise of negative tendencies with consequences of social unrest and political instability”, he remarked.

 The former Speaker hailed EALA for its commitment to the integration process noting that the Assembly had become stronger passing more Bills during its tenure. “You have indelibly engraved yourselves in the annals of the EAC history and scored tremendous achievements during your tenure of office” he added.

 Rt. Hon Kinana urged Parliaments to speak loudly on behalf of the people who elect them, ensure that development plans are informed by the priorities on the ground, adopt requisite legislation, approve budget allocations and to exercise oversight over expenditure.

On economic development, the former Speaker termed the impact of economic downturn “more telling” with severe and far reaching consequences saying that countries continued to face hard times coupled with falling of exports, increased fuel prices, declining value of the currencies, inflation and reduction in financial flows. He noted that the Governments of the Partner States would need to consider several measures to address these problems which impact negatively on the lives of their people.

 The effects and the risks are even greater this time around as we have already used large parts of our external resources to mitigate the impact of this crisis, Hon Kinana submitted, urging Parliaments to understand the dimensions and effects of the crisis in order to actively participate in finding both short and long term solutions.

Source:-East African Community (EAC) –  24 Nov 2011