Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni singled out security and the prosperity of the region as the key ingredients that will keep the integration process on track.
Addressing an East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) session in Kampala last Friday, Museveni urged the lawmakers to support regional agriculture processing industry.
“Prosperity is about services, markets and it is important to leverage and take advantage of the market,” Museveni is quoted in a statement from the regional legislators’ body.
The President said that Uganda was looking forward to exporting its agricultural products in the EAC region including sugar products.
“Uganda is today producing more sugar than it needs. Following the discussions with President Uhuru Kenyatta recently, we have agreed to open the market for this products further”, he said.
The President maintained that Uganda was similarly open to receiving goods from Kenya under the integration arrangement.
The President called on Partner States to add value to production in order to enjoy competitiveness.
“The Federal Republic of Ethiopia, which has a population of 90 million people, today assembles its automobiles and this has led to creation of employment of over 160,000 jobs for the locals. Automobile assemblage can reduce costs by 57 per cent,” he said.
He submitted proposals to the Summit of EAC Heads of State to explore the possibility of local assemblage of vehicles.
“We need to create jobs, transfer technology for the region to be prosperous”, President Museveni told the attentive audience.
The President maintained that the EAC was on course and its progress irreversible, noting that the Community was on the verge of achieving better quality of life for its citizens following the significant progress in a number of socio-economic and political spheres.
He lauded EALA for initiating the EAC Creative and Cultural Industries Bill saying it gave citizens such as performing artists to advantage of integration and to widen their markets.
On security, the Head of State said that strategic security was key.
“We must put our interests fast and secure ourselves from those who want to dominate us, he said, adding that it was time for challenges such as NTBs to be weeded out once and for all.
He said Uganda was mapping strategies to be a first world country in the next 20 years and thus deemed it necessary to fight for its competitive space.
“Even if these were to happen, the question is how secure would Uganda be by itself?” he asked.