Challenges including the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict hampered the development and integration agenda during the first year in office of Peter Mathuki, the East African Community (EAC) Secretary-General. Mathuki noted this in his offices in Arusha, Tanzania on Friday, June 3, as he took stock of events and developments over the past year. “The conflict in Ukraine has escalated the prices of commodities in East Africa and is still affecting us. I know Council (of Ministers) and other organs are still working to find solutions to all these issues,” Mathuki said. “The other challenge is weather patterns and climate change which is also really threatening as we are not getting enough rains in the region. This has affected productivity in the region and this also impacted on the prices of goods in our region. These are the major challenges we are facing but again, we are putting in place policies that will mitigate issues of climate change and encourage our citizens to embrace efforts that try to intervene such as planting trees.” Last year, he started in office pledging to, among others, hit the ground running in enhancing the four pillars of EAC integration. Mathuki is happy that the mission to admit the DR Congo was accomplished. Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi signed the Treaty of accession by his country accomplished, on April 8, making it the seventh member of the regional economic bloc. “A key milestone the Community has achieved in the recent past is admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo into the EAC,” Mathuki said. Among others, in February, EAC Partner States adopted the regional tariff offer for Category A products amounting to 90.2 per cent, thereby meting the minimum requirements for those products to start trading on provisional basis under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. “The EAC continues to firm up its resolve to trade as a bloc under the AfCFTA,” Mathuki said. DRC insecurity a work in progress On the resurgence of insecurity in eastern DR Congo, the bloc’s new member, the Secretary General indicated that all hope is not lost as leaders within and outside the region are working to ensure peace prevails. “The spirit of ensuring that we get peace, not only in the DRC but in the entire East African Community is work in progress. And even the Heads of State of the EAC have commenced those engagements...there are some meetings held in Nairobi in April. “That demonstrates the level at which the Heads of State are committed to ensure that we have a peaceful EAC. Ourselves, as the Secretariat, we are committed to facilitate their work so that we have a Community that is working for the people.” Mathuki was appointed by East African Community leaders , on February 27, 2021, as the new Secretary-General of the regional bloc after Burundi’s Liberat Mfumukeko completed his five-year term. Mathuki, the former executive director of the East African Business Council (EABC) officially assumed office on April 27, 2021.