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Pushing Region’s Economic Interests: EAC Secretariat Urged To Engage Partner States Diplomatic Missions Abroad

The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat has been urged to actively engage Partner States diplomatic missions abroad as part of efforts to promote the region’s economic interests. 

Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Amb. Liberata Mulamula, said that such engagement would equip EAC Ambassadors with deeper insights on the integration process.  

Minister Mulamula said that such engagement should not necessarily be physical given the current COVID-19 pandemic, adding that EAC Ambassadors were supposed to implement economic diplomacy not only for their respective Partner States but for the entire region.  

“Therefore, it is very important to establish mechanisms for regular briefings for Partner States Diplomatic Missions on key projects and programmes which have been implemented as well as those to be implemented,” said the Minister. 

Mulamula said that foreign policy coordination with diplomatic missions would enable EAC to promote regional activities and market East African cooperation abroad in areas such as trade, investment, tourism as well as cultural issues. 

The Minister said that such coordination would further ensure maximization of combined and harmonized efforts in addressing regional needs in international fora and coordination of EAC programmes and projects. 

Mulamula was giving the keynote address at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha during a consultative forum on Economic Diplomacy for High Commissioners of EAC Partner States accredited to Tanzania and the EAC. 

The minister emphasised the importance of EAC Partner States working together at international forums saying that there were more chances of success in joint initiatives. 

“When we work together, our voice on the global arena counts. When it comes to candidatures for positions on international organisations, we should not be competing for the same amongst ourselves as EAC Partner States,” said the Minister. 

Emphasising the essence of people-centred integration as specified in the Treaty, Amb. Mulamula challenged the EAC Secretariat to spearhead sensitization of the people of East Africa on the integration process through strategic partnerships with the media in the region. 

“There are many good things happening in the region on the political, social, economic and cultural fields but most people are not aware that the foundation for all these achievements were laid in Arusha,” she said, adding that the Community needs to put more effort in awareness creation around the integration. 

She stressed the importance of engaging the private sector in resolving Non-tariff Barriers to trade and in formulating a joint regional response to COVID-19. 

Speaking at the forum, EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki, disclosed that it was the desire of the Summit of EAC Heads of State that the Community works for the people of East Africa because it belongs to them. 

Dr. Mathuki, who has so far held consultations with five Heads of State since he assumed office at the end of April this year, further said that the Summit also wished to see the people of East Africa living in solidarity and fraternity because they were one people.  

The Secretary General reaffirmed his commitment to involving the private sector and other stakeholders in the integration, adding that the creation of jobs for the youth was also a priority for the Community. 

Mathuki said that he together with the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Ngoga Martins, and the Judge President of the East African Court of Justice, Justice Nestor Kayobera, were working together to ensure synergy and better working relations between the Organs of the Community. 

The SG said the EAC would endeavour to hold an annual forum for purposes of engagement with EAC Missions abroad. 

On his part, the Chairperson of the EAC High Commissioners to Tanzania and the EAC, Amb. Dan Kazungu, urged the EAC Organs and Institutions to uphold service delivery to the people of the region who he said deserved the best. 

Amb. Kazungu, who is also the Kenyan High Commissioner, called for close cooperation between the Secretariat and Partner States to ensure smooth movement of goods and persons across the region as enshrined in the Common Market Protocol. 

Speaking at the same forum, EALA Speaker Martin Ngoga urged the Council of Ministers to attend the Assembly’s sessions on a regular basis especially when critical matters come up for debate. 

Ngoga said that EALA Members wanted to engage the Ministers on budgetary and other critical issues affecting the Community. 

Also present at the event were High Commissioners Richard Kabonero (Uganda), Major General Charles Karamba (Rwanda) and Dr. John Simba Chaweni (Tanzanian envoy to Kenya). Others were the EAC Deputy Secretary in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Eng. Steven Mlote, and Christophe Bazivamo, DSG Productive and Social Sectors. 

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