EAC ministers and top officials convene in Kigali to strategize

East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers and head of the body’s organs will Friday convene in Kigali to brainstorm, plan and strategize on how better the bloc can deliver on its objectives and mandate.

At a retreat that will be held at the Kigali Convention Centre, the bloc’s leadership will among other things review, discuss and adopt a report containing recommendations and the timeline of their implementation.

According to a programme, President Kagame, who is the current Chairperson of the six-nation bloc, is expected to open the retreat and deliver a keynote address.

With Rwanda as the current East African Community, the retreat presents an ideal opportunity to mobilize support and focus on key initiatives.

According to the retreat’s concept note, the officials will seek ways to fast track the integration and cooperation on issues such as Customs Union and Common Market.

The officials will also review and seek to improve the financial and administrative management of the East African Community organs to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

The summit will also seek to include and involve more stakeholders in the integration process such as the private sector stakeholders who have often decried low involvement in multiple initiatives.

Among the topics likely to feature prominently at the retreat include the low involvement of private sector in integration initiatives, which players have often said has locked them out of opportunities.

Speaking at the recent Africa CEO Forum, Tanzanian businessman Ali Mufuruki lamented that most of the drivers in EAC integration have been political and not as business-oriented which has left little impact on businesses.

For instance, he questioned why there had been lots of efforts on initiatives such as political federation and monetary union and not on more impactful interventions such as movement of labour and skills.

Other missed opportunities in the bloc include slow progress by member countries to adopt Single African Air Market policy which has potential to increase performance of regional airlines.

The financing of the bloc by member countries is also likely to feature as there has been persistent complaints on delayed or defaulted contributions, which has affects the implementation of priority programmes.

According to the programme, the regional leaders are also expected to participate in Umuganda to be held on Saturday at Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kicukiro District.