East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 30th November, 2019: The East African Community has marked its 20th Anniversary with pomp and fanfare at its Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Uganda’s 2nd Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, Hon. Dr. Ali Kirunda Kivejinja, who presided over the event on Saturday, said that EAC Partner States would not repeat the mistake of the past that led to the collapse of the first Community.
Dr. Kivejinja said that the cost of the collapse of the first EAC was monumental in terms of the loss of jobs, incomes and other benefits to East Africans.
His warning comes against the backdrop of growing tensions between Rwanda and Uganda on one side and Rwanda and Burundi on the other.
The countries accuse Rwanda of meddling in their domestic affairs to destabilize them while Kigali says Uganda and Burundi helping Rwandan dissidents.
Kigali is also accused of disrupting cross border trade by slapping an embargo on Ugandan goods, closing the common border with Uganda and blocking Rwandans from traveling to Uganda.
Trade among Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi has literally collapsing, undermining efforts to fully integrate the region.
Dr. Kivejinja said the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC was the bible of the Community which should guide all matters around the integration process and warned against politicising issues that could be settled amicably by the Partner States.
He urged all EAC Staff to take their work seriously, adding that it was a privilege to serve the entire region in their various capacities.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that East Africans have a common history, ancestry and were the descendants of the first human being describing East Africa as the cradleland of all mankind.
He observed that East Africa, and by extension Africa, had all the necessary human and material resources to create the society it wants.
In his remarks, EAC Secretary General Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko disclosed that a regional campaign comprising several activities was being carried out to highlight key milestones as part of celebrations of the Community’s 20th Anniversary.
Amb. Mfumukeko noted that the region had made tremendous achievements through various policy initiatives including new infrastructure, regional industrialisation policies, healthcare programmes, a common external tariff and a Common Higher Education Area, adding that there was still room to do more as most East Africans were yet to reap the benefits of the integration.
“Today we recognize and affirm that each one of us deserves better; this is our call for action for all stakeholders to pull together so that the Community can deliver the dreams of our citizens,” said the SG.
He said that the Community in collaboration with KfW, the German Development Bank, and the Inter-University Council of East Africa had unveiled a student exchange programme providing fully sponsored postgraduate scholarships to 60 EAC students tenable at various universities in the Partner States during the current academic year.
“The Exchange programme which is worth 5 million Euros targets students pursuing Mathematics, Engineering, Informatics, Science, Technology and Business Science programmes,” added the SG.
Speaking at the same event, East African Legislative Assembly Speaker Hon. Ngoga Martin said that the Assembly would strive to enact progressive laws to guide the integration process.
The celebrations included a procession through the City of Arusha led by the brass band from the Monduli Military Academy.
Also present at the event were the Judge President of the East African Court of Justice, Justice Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, the Secretary General of the Pan African Postal Union, Mr. Younouss Djibrine, Mr. Jean Philips for the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, East African Legislative Assembly MPs, EAC members of staff, students, teachers and members of the public.