A summit for the Heads of State of the East African Community is slated later this week in Arusha, Tanzania, according to a statement from the bloc’s Secretariat. The summit is set for Friday and has been preceded by a meeting of the Council of Ministers, which started over the weekend and runs through Wednesday.
Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda’s State Minister in charge of the East African Community (EAC), on Monday confirmed the Summit is taking place and indicated he was set to travel to Arusha later on Monday.
The Heads of State of the six-nation bloc are expected to be updated on the status of ratification of various protocols and receive a progress report on the adoption of Political Confederation as a transitional model to the East African Political Federation.
About two years ago, a sub-committee of ministers responsible for EAC affairs agreed on a confederation model instead of a political federation as the last stage of regional integration.
Other items on the agenda include; the roadmap for the accelerated integration of South Sudan into the EAC, and the verification exercise for the admission of Somalia into the Community.
The Summit will also consider reports on modalities for the promotion of Motor Vehicle Assembly in East Africa aimed at reducing importation of used vehicles into the Community, the statement said.
The leaders are also expected to the review the textile and leather sector with a view to developing a strong and competitive domestic sector that gives consumers better choice than imported textile and footwear.
During the previous meeting, held in Kampala, Uganda in February, the Summit directed the Council of Ministers to explore possibilities of developing the automotive industry in East Africa by reducing the importation of used vehicles from outside the region and thereby make the region more competitive.
The Kampala Summit also directed the Council to make the region more competitive by prioritising development of a competitive domestic textile and leather sector that will give East Africans a wider range of choices in terms of affordable, new and quality clothes, shoes and other leather products.
The forthcoming Summit will also review the progress report from the Council of Ministers on the Summit directive on having two Deputy Secretaries General at the Community Secretariat recruited competitively on a rotational basis among the partner states.
The previous Summit decided that there will only be two Deputy Secretaries-General, who shall be recruited competitively on a rotational basis.
Liquidity challenges persist
It remains unclear whether the regional leaders will discuss money issues as the credit crunch continues to bite.
“Liquidity challenges are always on the agenda of the EAC Summit,” Nduhungirehe said.
It is no secret that, for a long time, internal resources have remained a major constraint, especially because countries have been failing to make timely remittances to the Secretariat on time.
The clerk for the regional assembly’s legislative body last week informed the bloc’s secretary-general and heads of other top organs of the Community that the House was postponing its November 25-22 December sitting in Zanzibar, Tanzania over financial constraints.
“This is to inform you that the 3rd meeting of the 2nd session has been postponed due to liquidity challenges the Assembly is facing. This has been caused by the delay in remittance of funds by the Partner States,” the clerk said in an internal memo.
“As such the Assembly does not have sufficient funds to facilitate implementation of the aligned activities.”
Countries are supposed to pay up by December 30 of every financial year.
EAC ministers for finance in February 2016 recommended to the Council to, among others, maintain equal contributions from Partner States, and invoke Article 143 of the EAC Treaty on sanctions to a country which defaults in meeting its financial obligations to the bloc.