• Integration has played a key role in growing East Africa (EA) as a region even more rapidly after the re-establishment of the East African Community (EAC).

    Such development in the region has been made possible through support from Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) which has particularly helped EAC reduce the transport transfer time of containers from Dar es Salaam-Mombasa port to Bujumbura, Kigali by 12%.

    To further discuss the way forward between the two organizations, EAC Secretary General, Amb Richard Sezibera, held discussions with TMEA CEO, Mr Frank Matsaert to plan for TMEA’s support for the next phase, 2016-2022.

    Noting the role played by TMEA in developing the region, Dr Sezibera said in appreciation: “I wish to express my gratitude to TMEA for supporting the Integration Agenda.” He added: “As we move more towards monetary and fiscal integration, we need to strengthen institutional capacities, nurture vibrant trade and enhance financial markets within the region.”

    With the aim of improving the quality of life of East Africans through competitiveness, value added production, trade and investments, the EAC, through TMEA support, has improved the infrastructure at Mombasa Port; constructed road network between Ntungamo to Mirama Hill in Uganda and Port Reitz to Kipevu West in Kenya; improved on the customs clearance time along the borders and carried out several sensitization campaigns to small cross border traders on the opportunities and facilities of the Integration Process.

    “We are very keen on continuing [to] support the Integration Agenda,” said Mr Matsaert. “With strong commitment and guidance from the Secretary General and his team, we will be able to carve out key priority activities to carry out in the next phase,” he added.

    Although there have challenges since the re-establishment of the EAC, there is no doubt that Partner States have made considerable progress in their efforts to integrate. Efforts have been made in the harmonization of policies, while improvements have been made in the areas of trade, macroeconomic policies, infrastructure, and ICTs.

    The decision by Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) to establish a single free trade zone for the 26 member countries goes a long way to deepen the integration agenda for the Community.