• On Wednesday, February 3, South Sudan was admitted as the 6th Country in the East African Community (EAC).

    This development has widened the market size of the region to more than 160 million people.

    The 17th Ordinary EAC Heads of State Summit in Arusha, Tanzania, admitted South Sudan into the economic bloc, putting to rest the long wait for the country to join the EAC which comprises Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

    EAC secretariat noted on its twitter handle that "South Sudan is a new member of the EAC."

    South Sudan is expected to gain from the move as it pushes to grow its struggling economy following a two-year war that has had a negative impact on development in the Africa's newest nation.

    Joining the region's common market

    South Sudan which applied to join EAC soon after its independence from neighboring Sudan in 2011 and other member state countries are set to benefit from the deal.

    With the free access to each other's markets, member states will be able to trade with each other as well as invest in each other's economies.

    To accelerate the region's economic growth and development, EAC partner states through the common market- the second regional integration milestone of the EAC- maintain a liberal stance towards Free Movement of Goods; Free Movement of Persons; Free Movement of Labour / Workers; Free Movement of Services; and Free Movement of Capital. Further, the agreement allows for the member state to exercise the Right of Establishment and the Right of Residence.

    Imports of second-hand clothes and footwear into the community

    Top in the Agenda of the meeting which is being attended by the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni, and other Presidents including Rwanda's Paul Kagame is deliberating the model, structure and action plan of the EAC political federation; modalities for promotion of motor vehicle assembly; reduction of the importation of used motor vehicles from outside the community; and the implementation of the framework for harmonized EAC roaming charges.

    Heads of States at the Arusha meeting also discussed the need to grow textile and leather industries in the region. This they said would work best by curbing the importation of second-hand clothes and footwear.

    Although, the meeting did not pass the motion to immediately stop the imports, the Heads of states agreed to slowly empower individual industries with an aim of stopping the second-hand imports in the next three years.

    The meeting also launched the new International East African e-Passport which will be used by citizens in the region to travel abroad without the need for hard paper national passports.

    Additionally, former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa has taken over from president Museveni as the new facilitator of the Burundi negotiations following an appointment at the meeting.

    Dr Richard Sezibera who has been the community's Secretary General for five years gave his mantle to Mr Liberat Mfumukeko. Dr Sezibera stressed that the EAC is still committed to bringing transformation to the economic bloc to become an upper Middle-Income status by 2050.

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