The first strategic retreat of ministers from the five partner states of the East African Community (EAC), will convene from April 17 -18 at Speke Hotel, Kampala in Uganda.
Those expected to attend are ministers in charge EAC affairs and infrastructure
The retreat will focus on common regional infrastructure development with specific emphasis on roads, railways, maritime ports, inland waterways, energy, civil aviation, communication and funding for regional infrastructure projects.
Addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre on Tuesday, Eriya Kategaya, Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, noted that infrastructure constitutes the most critical challenge for the regional grouping.
"As the EAC economies continue to grow, and as we consolidate East African integration, the demand for trade and investment facilitating infrastructure also grows.
"One of the fundamental factors that account for the sluggish pace of Africa’s development and the East African region in particular is the lack of good, reliable, efficient, and cost-effective infrastructure. Therefore, time has come for the partner states to resolutely decide to jointly fund infrastructure projects in a phased manner, while facilitating the private sector through public-private sector partnerships," he said.
Added Kategaya: "There is an urgent need to scale up and expedite the implementation of the EAC Road Network Master Plan, the EAC Power Master Plan, the EAC Railways Master Plan, as well as other infrastructural plans and projects. "However, the initial capital outlays or investment for infrastructural projects is high, whereas its pay back period is rather long. This poses key challenges."
Under the theme; "Regional Infrastructure Development: Challenges and Opportunities", the retreat will also consider recommendations of the EAC Permanent Secretaries’ Retreat held in Mwanza, Tanzania from March 3-4, 2008.