East Africa leaders emphasise security and trade at summit
Mr Kenyatta (L) and Mr Museveni hold talks in Arusha, Tanzania, yesterday. PHOTO BY PPU
Monday, April 29, 2013
East African leaders yesterday sent a strong signal that the
region would not tolerate any insecurity or destabilisation that would
scare off investors or undermine its development efforts.
They said with major oil and gas discoveries made,
the region must get rid of any threats posed to derail its quest to
settle down and tap the vast natural resources for development.
“No one should be allowed to destablise the
region. Our region is now conducive for investment and general
development,” said President Museveni while addressing the 11th
extra-ordinary Summit of Heads of State in Arusha, Tanzania.
He said the East Africa region was now dynamic and vibrant in economic terms.
“We have worked tirelessly to maintain a stable
macro-economic environment characterised by security of persons,
property and our financial systems,” he added.
However, the Ugandan leader warned that
any sign of instability must be fought using all energy to make East
Africa more conducive for investments and development.
Newly-elected Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
stressed that stability remained a critical ingredient for the future
development and prosperity of the East African Community (EAC) bloc.
He stated that all member countries of the
Community must ensure peace and security regained in the region, noting
that his country sent forces into war-torn Somalia because it felt
terrorism posed a threat to EA.
“Kenya has acted so decisively to combat the
scourge of terrorism and restore peace to our neighbour in Somalia. We
must continue to combat collectively the threat of terrorism in our
region,” Mr Kenyatta said.
Mr Kenyatta, who was attending his first
regional leaders’ summit since his election as Kenya’s fourth president
last month, said poaching was another major threat to wildlife in EA and
the tourism industry.
However, the Kenyan leader said he was not
comfortable with a range of barriers which had undermined the free
movement of people, goods and services within the region as espoused by
He specifically cited the non-tariff barriers
(NTBs) and other impediments which, according to him, “have greatly
reduced the benefits that we should already be enjoying”.
Mr Kenyatta stated that his government’s priority
would be to work closely with the four EAC partner states; Tanzania,
Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda “to eliminate those barriers so that we can
move freely throughout our region”.
resolved that EA bloc should put in place appropriate strategies that
will enable it tap its recently-discovered oil and gas reserves as well
as abundant mineral resources.
“These resources should help propel East Africa
into middle income status and within the next 50 years into the First
World category. If we manage them well, these resources will enable us
to make this socio-economic transition quickly” President Museveni
He added that the people of EA were impatient to move
from poverty as well as underdevelopment and take their right place and
find their voice in the community of nations.
President Kenyatta stressed that the future of the bloc lay on its ability to trade.
“That is not just a question of lowering tariffs
but also of improving our physical capacity to deliver prosperity and
links between our two countries.”
Achieving that calls for upgrading
of major economic infrastructures such as ports, water ways, rail
networks, roads and energy, among others.