•Kenya’s Principal Secretary for East Africa Community, Kevit Desai, said that the region was putting in place strategies to ensure economic recovery in all partner states.
•The Principal Secretary also said that the EAC budget for the Financial Year 2021/2022 will also prioritize Private Sector engagement by putting in place appropriate strategies to ensure the private sector takes an active and participatory role in the EAC integration agenda.
East Africa countries will focus the 2021-2022 financial year with a focus on economic recovery through industrialization and inclusive growth following the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the region.
Kenya’s Principal Secretary for East Africa Community, Kevit Desai, said that the region was putting in place strategies to ensure economic recovery in all partner states from the destructive effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As a region, we have witnessed the devastation created within the economies of the partner states, including the fall in intra-regional trade, job losses, limited mobility within the region, and loss of lives,” said the PS.
Desai, who is also the Chairperson of the Coordination Committee that brings together Permanent, Principal, Under Secretaries for EAC Affairs in the Partner States, was addressing the media at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha on Monday.
Desai said that intra-regional mobility has further been hindered by the Covid-19 mitigation measures that require travellers to have valid test certificates to travel within the region and often times subjected to double testing - before departure and upon arrival at the destination Partner State.
“The ability to travel in the region is also being hindered by the fact that it costs almost Sh10, 000 to have a Covid-19 test done, and then in some cases double testing is required upon departure and arrival within the context of One Stop Border Points,”noted Desai.
On the priorities set forth to spur the region’s economic recovery from Covid-19, the PS disclosed that efforts will be put in place to increase the region’s manufacturing capacity from an average of six per cent, as well as promotion of greater intra-regional trade.
“If we do a comparison with other regional economic blocs, for instance in the European Union, their intra-trade stands at 60 per cent, compared to EAC’s 15 per cent. This presents us an enormous potential if we are able to address issues on productivity and efficiency of all factors that facilitate intra-regional trade,” said the PS.
The Principal Secretary also said that the EAC budget for the Financial Year 2021/2022 will also prioritize Private Sector engagement by putting in place appropriate strategies to ensure the private sector takes an active and participatory role in the EAC integration agenda.
“The private sector can be involved in co-creation of wealth and in the achieving the goals set in the 6th EAC Development Strategy. We are therefore looking into ways and means in which the private sector is able to play its profound role as far as the development of the economy is concerned,” said Desai.
The participation of the private sector, the PS said, can be pegged on establishing partnerships with the public sector and embarking on development projects such as infrastructure development as well development of complementary services to develop and enhance value chains and investment.
The PS said that the EAC would continue with the development of multinational road projects linking partner states, construction and operationalization of new prioritized One Stop Border Posts within the EAC region, construction of standard gauge railways, as well as the joining by Tanzania and Burundi to the EAC One Network Area.
He added that the EAC will focus on 10 priority areas which include private sector development, peace and security, health/Covid-19 response, trade development, infrastructure development, EAC digitalization agenda, agriculture, and nutrition.
Other areas of focus are biodiversity, environment and circular economy; expansion of membership to EAC and strengthening relationships with the African Union and other regional organisations (RECS), Institutional transformation including skills development, and promotion of awareness creation and dissemination of information on the Community.