Regional leaders met in Kampala on Friday to devise means of increasing East Africa’s trade competitiveness through, among other means, creating a competitive textiles industry.
The leaders were speaking at the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State Retreat on Infrastructure, Health Financing and Development in Kampala.
“The summit, with regard to promoting the cotton, textile, apparel and leather industries in the region, to make the region more competitive and create jobs decided to prioritize the development of a competitive domestic textile and leather sector to provide affordable, new and quality options of clothing and leather products to East African citizens,” the communiqué reads in part.
Infrastructure minister James Musoni, who represented President Paul Kagame at the summit said that Rwanda has not banned selling second hand clothes but it is promoting ‘Made In Rwanda’ to encourage Rwandans to use clothes that haven’t been used by other people.
“What we have done is to impose a certain tax on this but we haven’t banned them. We encourage local and regional production,” he told Sunday Times in Kampala.
Musoni added that Rwanda is benefiting from different joint regional infrastructure projects, citing an example of the Kagitumba-Kayonza-Rusumo road and Ngoma-Nyanza regional road.
“When we take these collective decisions, it even becomes easier for resource mobilization because our development partners want to see projects fitting in that framework. All these concerted efforts directly impact on Rwanda’s development,” he said.
The summit directed the council of Ministers to mobilize resources required for implementation of new and ongoing priority infrastructure projects in the region.
Making a regional constitution
The Heads of state received a report of the council of Ministers on the progress of the constitutional-making process of the EAC Political Confederation and directed partner states to nominate constitutional experts and directed the council of ministers to fund the process of constitutional making.
The leaders took note of the progress on the development of the automotive industry in the region to reduce importation of used motor vehicles from outside the region and to make the region more competitive. They directed the council of ministers to expedite the process and report to the 20th summit.
Just last month, German carmaker Volkswagen announced that they are in the process of setting up a plant in Rwanda to assemble cars locally and roll out a mobility solution in the second quarter of this year.
The summit was attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is the EAC chairperson and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Other presidents who attended the summit include; John Magufuli of Tanzania, and Salva Kirr of South Sudan.
Burundian 1st Vice-President Gaston Sindimwo represented President Pierre Nkurunziza.