Region’s infrastructure on EAC agenda

East African heads of state will hold a mini-summit Thursday on the sidelines of the high-level EAC Investment Conference that opens today. One of the items on the Agenda will be to discuss the region’s infrastructure problems.

East African heads of state will hold a mini-summit Thursday on the sidelines of the high-level EAC Investment Conference that opens today. One of the items on the Agenda will be to discuss the region’s infrastructure problems.

This was highlighted by Monique Mukaruliza, Rwanda’s Minister for East African Community Affairs in a recent press briefing about this week’s events.

“This will largely dwell on how to develop the region’s infrastructure, especially getting the money,” said Mukaruliza. Both the African Development Bank (ADB) and East Africa Development Bank (EADB) heads have been invited to this week’s Investment Conference.

“The ADB has helped the EAC in these projects by carrying out feasibility studies,” she underscored. Accordingly, the heads of state will engage in informal consultations immediately after their arrival this evening.

Shortly after officially opening the Conference Thursday, they will break off for a half-day strategic retreat that will largely tackle the sub-region’s infrastructure woes among other things. 

The Presidents’ infrastructure discussions come after the EAC 2008/09 budget was revised last week - allocating more money to the 5-nation bloc’s Planning and Infrastructure Directorate.

The budget, passed by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) in Arusha, had earlier been rejected, with MPs pointing to its lack of strong emphasis on the bloc’s development aspirations – infrastructure being an important one. 

The 2008/09 budget is reported to have allocated an additional US$2.8 million, bringing the total amount to US$5,024,865 for the planning and infrastructure directorate.

The bloc’s budget is largely donor-dependent and partner states are being urged to increase funding to cut on donor dependence.

In the retreat, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, current EAC chairman, is expected to present a report on the region’s activities in the past year shortly before he hands over chairmanship to whoever will be voted amongst the Presidents in accordance with the rotational policy.

The swearing-in of new judges to the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) will also feature. Two judges each from Rwanda and Burundi, will be sworn in, in addition to two others from Tanzania and Kenya who had not been officially sworn in.

In a cabinet meeting last Friday, Johnston Busingye, the High Court president and Emilie Kayitesi Rusera, were appointed to represent Rwanda at the EACJ. The court was established in 2001.

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