KIGALI - As partner states of the East African Community (EAC) presented a $60 million budget for the financial year 2010/2011, this week, the biggest percentage has been earmarked for the development of regional infrastructure.
Rwanda’s Aloys Mutabingwa, the EAC Deputy Secretary General confirmed this on phone, yesterday, noting that 48 percent of the money will come from donors while the rest will be contributed by partner states and the private sector.
The budget was presented Thursday to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) during a session in Mombasa, Kenya.
“Within the budget, not less than 60 percent is for infrastructure. It involves preparatory work for infrastructure development and supervision,” Mutabingwa said.
“We are looking at infrastructure as a number one priority because without this, we really cannot enhance our own market and have a common market – it requires a vehicle and that vehicle is – roads, rail systems, telecommunications and others.”
The bloc’s infrastructure projects include roads, railways, ICT, a common one-stop-border post system, and others.
Mutabingwa revealed that EAC Ministers are currently meeting in Arusha, Tanzania to discuss among other issues, the five-member bloc’s desire to have a one-stop-border point, unlike what countries have been promoting under bilateral arrangements.
“We have been doing this between two countries but we found it cumbersome,” he explained, adding that EAC states now want to have “one legal framework to govern the one-stop-border point project.”
This new initiative, Mutabingwa said, will allow efficiency and effectiveness and will enhance freedom of movement along the bloc’s borders.
The Arusha session is also “taking stock of key infrastructure projects” for the region.
Most funding is coming from the AfDB which has taken the lead in railway, the World Bank which is providing support under the trade and transport facilitation arrangement, JICA which is covering border posts. Other donor who is contributing to the budget is the EU, Mutabingwa said.
According to an EAC communiqué, the current budget estimates (totals US$ 59,963,040), exceed the previous year’s budget by 11%.
EALA is scheduled to debate the budget starting June 1 at the Municipal Council Chamber, Mombasa, Kenya.