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By Godfrey Olukya  2-11-2013  


Thousands of Ugandans on Saturday turned up at Kololo ceremonial grounds to render support to a move by the five East African Heads of State who signed the protocol for the establishment of a monetary union at the 15th Summit of the East African Community at the Common Wealth Resort Munyonyo in Kampala.

Among the presidents were those from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi,

At a public briefing Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni  said the EAC integration emphasizes the importance of three crucial elements that include the stomach (incomes), wealth creation, transformation and development.

He said the East African Community was in pursuit of creating a wider market for goods and services, adding that the East African Countries are striving to improve infrastructure such as electricity, roads and railway lines that will lower costs of transportation of goods and lower costs of doing business.

The President who said he was representing the EAC leaders who had just broken off after a long meeting had earlier on officially handed over the East African community (EAC) chairmanship to President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. He joined other leaders at the signing ceremony that was witnessed by Members of the East Africa Legislative Assembly, diplomats and high ranking government officials from the East African community member states.

Establishment of a monetary union is the third stage of integration according to the community agenda, whose signing paves way for the region to adopt usage of a single currency by the year 2024.

The 15th Summit held under the theme “one people one destiny: towards monetary union,”  was attended by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Jakaya Mwisho Kikwete of Tanzania, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, and the host Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

In his maiden speech, the incoming Chairman President Uhuru Kenyatta committed himself to serving to the best of his ability and commended the outgoing Chairperson Yoweri Museveni for ably chairing the summit for the last one year. He added that his energy, focus and commitment have been inspiring and have brought much desired momentum to the community’s quest for prosperity.  He also commended his counterparts of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi for their commitment in the advancement of community’s vision for integration.

President Kenyatta expressed gratitude for the progress of the council of ministers in the implementation of the pillars of the integration, the latest being the signing of the East African Community Monetary Union protocol.

“The signing of the East African Community monetary union is a logical culmination of our integration efforts. The union will eliminate the costs attendant to juggling different currencies thereby reducing transaction costs,” he said.

The protocol will provide for a wide scope of co-operation in monetary and financial sectors among EAC members. Under the protocol, EAC states are expected to surrender monetary and exchange rates policies to one authority leading to a single currency regime within the region. It will be implemented over a ten year period, subsequently leading to creation of a regional central bank whose mandate is to stabilise financial prices as well as monitoring, surveillance and enforcing compliance of all other macro finance matters.

The outgoing Chairperson of the EAC President Yoweri Museveni commended President Kenyatta for the political intervention in non tariff barriers relating to free movement of goods and explained that his intervention reduced the duration in time for transportation from Mombasa to Kampala from 8 to 3 days and to Kigali in 4 days from the initial 24.

President Museveni emphasized that through integration, pillars of modernization including entrepreneurship, consumers, infrastructure, strategic security and a credible forum to bargain for balanced interest can be achieved.

He urged members to work towards regional political sovereignty to enable the community handle political challenges in solidarity, saying Africa faces contempt and danger to its sovereignty from the Western world and integration is the only option

“If we remain politically scattered many issues may not be addressed as we would be barred by the principle of sovereignty,” he said.

He pointed out notorious events like the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the post election violence in Kenya, during which neighbors could not directly intervene due to their individual sovereign status.

He applauded the council of ministers for the positive reports and achievements registered so far in respect to the East Africa Community (EAC) objectives and challenged the incoming chairman to follow up the implementation pending projects of the community.

Later the President held bilateral meetings with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya to discuss various issues affecting the region.

EAC Secretary General, Ambassador Dr. Richard Sezibera said committed leadership from member states played a vital role in fast tracking non tariff barriers in the Northern corridor. He added that the single customs union roadmap that was operationalized is one of the key recent achievements of the integration.

During the summit, Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja of Rwanda was appointed Judge of the East African Court of Justice ( Appelate Division) and Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi from Uganda was appointed Judge of the East African Court of Justice ( First Instance Division). Justice Isaac Lenaola from Kenya was appointed deputy principal judge of the same court.

 

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