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EALA holds key to regional integration,says President Kenyatta
By Kazungu Chai (PSCU)
President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) to do all it can to keep the integration process truly people-centred.
He said the Assembly holds the key to the well-being of the East African Community, adding that integration is on course.
“Over time, we have mustered such an unstoppable momentum that we are now assured of realizing it not too far in the future,” the President said.
President Kenyatta spoke at Parliament buildings in Nairobi when he addressed EALA members Tuesday.
He said the rate of interaction among the people of East Africa has risen, with the exchange of information, goods and services growing fast that borders have now become mere formalities.
“The growing benefits of interactions across our various borders have catalyzed East Africans’ desire for integration. This popular desire makes integration inevitable in due course,” the President said.
But the President observed that there are still challenges, including non-tariff barriers, which plague the competitiveness of the region by raising the cost of doing business.
He said Kenya is committed to elimination of the non-tariff barriers and recently undertook measures to reduce the time taken between off-loading cargo at the Port of Mombasa and reaching the Malaba border crossing.
The President said road-blocks have been removed and weigh-bridges reduced to only two. He said security along the Northern Transport Corridor is now greatly enhanced, with more highway police patrols ensuring the safety of cargo and crew.
“In this way, we have made tremendous progress in availing the Gateway to East Africa for easier movement of cargo of the business community in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi,” the President said.
He said progress has also been made in easing movement of people within the Community and expressed hope that it will be sustained to realize the full potential of integration.
To facilitate full participation of the people in the integration process, President Kenyatta encouraged widespread use of Kiswahili by East African citizens.
“God has given us a voice that can unite all the people of East Africa, and we should deploy it through various media to actualize integration,” President Kenyatta said.
As partner States find political means of boosting integration, he appealed to EALA members to push for implementation of the Common Market provisions, whose achievement will increase the benefits of integration
and promote the progress of its subsequent phases.
The President expressed satisfaction that this month the East African Community Monetary Union Protocol will be signed.
“All the things we seek in integration will be multiplied in the Monetary Union. We expect, under the Union, a strengthening of competition in respective domestic markets as well as the efficiencies arising out of greater economies of scale,” the President said.
Globally, the President said the East African Monetary Union will send a strong statement of the region’s long-term commitment to deepen regional investment. He said such a statement will assure investors that East Africa is a genuine single market and an attractive place for business.
Politically, he said the Monetary Union is a statement of partner States’ commitment to a shared destiny as East Africans and not just a group of neighbouring States.
He assured EALA of his personal and Government’s support in all its endeavors to improve the lives of the citizens of the region.
Speaking during the occasion, EALA Speaker Margaret Zziwa commended Kenya for moving with speed to implement measures that have promoted trade within the East African region.
The EALA Speaker singled out improved services at the Port of Mombasa and the facilitation of smooth flow of cargo along the Northern Corridor by the Kenya Government as steps that have boosted trade within the region.
She thanked President Kenyatta for his commitment to regional peace and security, especially the fight against terrorism. Ms. Zziwa congratulated the President on his election victory and assured him of EALA’s support.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said the Kenyan Parliament will remain steadfast in supporting EALA to fulfill its mandate and realize the East African Community dream.