Following the signing of the Common Market Protocol and implementation of the Customs Union, the East African Community (EAC) has announced that efforts will now be directed towards fast-tracking the much anticipated Monetary Union and Political Federation.
The new agenda indicating strategic areas of focus for the regional body in 2010 was unveiled by the EAC Secretary General, Ambassador Juma Mwapachu.
As EAC integration process continues to take shape, in 2010 the five member states will be targeting greater cooperation in defence matters, implementation of the Common Market, and making progress on the Monetary Union and the Political Federation.
“The revival of negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as well plans for the EAC’s first ever summit on Food Security and Climate Change also features prominently,” Mwapachu told a staff meeting convened last week at the EAC Secretariat in Arusha.
Mwapachu hailed the improved working relations between EAC organs and institutions and described the past year as a “watershed” as far as regional integration is concerned.
He noted the successfully-held 10th anniversary celebrations and their role in elevating the identity and credibility of the EAC, and hailed staff for the diligence and commitment that has catapulted the East African Community into a model regional economic community.
Mwapachu noted that despite some challenges, the EAC registered major successes and achievements, all of which set the tone for an even more fruitful 2010.
The signing of the protocol for the establishment of the East African Community Common Market in November was one of the outstanding successes the Secretary General identified.
He informed the meeting that the July 2010 target to implement the Protocol was on course as EAC Heads of State have committed to have it ratified by May this year.
Mwapachu also highlighted plans to increase cooperation in defence, which will involve the upgrading of the existing memoranda of understanding on defence matters into a legally-binding protocol.
This exercise is expected to take place at a special forum in Kampala in February.
“Defence is the major mover of any political unity,” Mwapachu remarked, adding that creating a supranational entity like the planned political federation requires bringing the military on board.
He commended member states for efforts taken in the previous year to foster cooperation, such as the joint military exercises and the first-ever EAC Peace and Security Conference held in Kampala.
Mwapachu noted that the in 2010, the EAC will, in addition to hosting a special forum on defence, also organise a conference for people with disabilities to be held in Kampala. It will also host the 3rd East African Investment Conference in the same city.