Speech by His Excellency Hon. Mwai Kibaki, C.G.H., M.P., President and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence forces of the Republic of Kenya during his state of the EAC address to the East African Legislative Assembly at Parliament Buildings, Kampala on 25th January, 2012

KAMPALA, Uganda, January 25, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Speech by His Excellency Hon. Mwai Kibaki, C.G.H., M.P., President and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence forces of the Republic of Kenya during his state of the EAC address to the East African Legislative Assembly at Parliament Buildings, Kampala on 25th January, 2012

Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly,

Honourable Members,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to join you for this Special Sitting of the East African Legislative Assembly. I thank the Government and the People of Uganda for hosting this Session of the Assembly. I also thank the Honourable Speaker for inviting me to deliver the annual State of EAC Address.

During this 5th Session, Honourable Members will deliberate on crucial legislative matters regarding our Community. These include the following bills:

1.    Inter-University Council of East Africa Bill;

2.    The EAC Trans-Boundary Ecosystem Management Bill; and

3.    The EAC Polythene Materials Control Bill.

Members will also receive and consider reports from various committees of the Assembly, as well as hold briefing sessions with senior members of the Secretariat.

This is, therefore, an important Session which will further build on what has been achieved so far.

Mr. Speaker,

Over the last 10 years, our Community has made tremendous achievements that have facilitated socio-economic development in all our partner states.

For instance, since the launch of the Customs Union, and subsequently of the Common Market, regional trade has improved with intra-EAC trade increasing from about 2 billion US Dollars in 2005 to 4 billion US Dollars in 2010.

As benefits of regional integration begin to be felt in various sectors, the expectations of our people are increasing.

The ordinary citizens of East Africa are keen to see tangible benefits in form of increased employment, rising household incomes and better infrastructure. We therefore need to hasten and deepen the pace of the integration process.

To this end, there is urgent need to focus on the following three critical areas:

First, we must diversity the economies of our region. Agriculture is the main economic activity in all five Partner States in our Community. The agriculture practiced in our region is generally not mechanized and there are few agricultural value addition industries.

The need for rapid development demands that we begin focusing and investing in industrialization including value addition.

Let us take advantage of the resources in our region, both natural and human to develop processing, manufacturing and basic industries as well as many forms of non-agricultural industrial activities.

Indeed no country or region in the world has transformed without rapid industrialization.

We also need to focus on growth sectors such as tourism and I.C.T.

While it is commendable that tourist arrivals to our region have now surpassed the 4 million mark, this number is still small, indeed smaller than what individual countries such as South Africa and Egypt receive.

We must, therefore, invest in tourism promotion in innovative ways including through projects that will, for example, offer tourists to our region opportunities to visit circuits that will take them to different parts of East Africa.

Regarding I.C.T., we should encourage innovation and facilitate the establishment of enterprises such as business process outsourcing centers. The massive penetration of mobile telephony in our region offers great opportunity for development of mobile applications and systems that will improve the lives of our people.

Second, it is important for all EAC Partner States to fully implement the Common Market Protocol to ensure free movement of people, goods, services, capital and rights of residence and establishment.

The focus in this area should be on ensuring adherence to the agreed commitments in the Protocol for the establishment of the Common Market within the set timeframes. We should also fast-track the transposition of national laws that contradict the Common Market spirit to enable its successful implementation.

Third, we must invest more in infrastructure development.

As the region aspires to deepen and widen the integration process, the development of modern infrastructure in the region is indeed a critical foundation for industrialization and free movement of people and goods. Poor infrastructure hampers any form of movement geared to development.

Fortunately, we have experienced considerable progress in the area. Commendable work is being done in the implementation of the East African Road Network Project across the region.

Focus should now be placed on upgrading and modernizing the current railway network in addition to extending it to other parts of the Community. The shortfall in the supply of power remains a major constraint to economic development in the EAC economies.

Several projects aimed at building a reliable power supply capacity across the region are currently underway. These include the Bujagali Hydro Power Project here in Uganda as well as the expansion of geothermal power generation at Olkaria in Kenya.

Mr. Speaker,

The success of our Community is directly related to peace and stability in our neighboring states. Our engagement in bringing law and order in Somalia is driven by the desire to bring about peace, stability and development in this region.

I commend all EAC Partner States that have committed resources and personnel in this noble endeavor. Our goal is to help the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia gain full control of the country and commence the work of national reconstruction.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I salute this Second East African Legislative Assembly for effectively discharging its oversight and legislative role of the integration process. I also thank our development partners for the support they have continued to extend to us. It is my hope that this partnership will continue.

With these remarks, Mr. Speaker, I wish the Assembly fruitful deliberations during this Session.

Thank you and God bless you all.


East African Community (EAC)

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