27th February 2021
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East African Heads of State summit slated for Feb 27

Author: Daniel Danis | Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A previous EAC Heads of State meeting/Courtesy

President Salva Kiir will join his counterparts in the East African Community during the Heads of State meeting scheduled for February 27.

This week, the EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko announced that the meeting of the Presidents will be preceded by the region’s Council of Ministers on February 25.

“We are also kindly proposing that the 21st Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of state be held on Saturday, February 27, 2021,” he revealed.

In a letter addressed to all permanent secretaries and ministers for EAC Affairs from South Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, Mr Mfumukeko said: “Following consultations with the chairperson of the Council, the SG wishes to convene the 40th Ordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers from February 22-25, 2021 in Arusha, Tanzania.”

The last meeting of the Heads of State was in May 2020, when only Presidents Salva Kiir, Uhuru Kenyatta, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni attended at the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic emergency.

Tanzania and Burundi did not attend the meeting.

The May Consultative Meeting discussed the Regional Response to Covid-19 and the Free Movement of Goods.

Since then, trade among East African Community states has continued to decline due to the failure by partner states to agree on trade liberalisation, integration, lack of product diversification, and non-tariff barriers as hurdles to intra-regional trade despite the implementation of the Single Customs Territory.

EAC trade has continued to be dominated by agricultural commodities: Coffee, tea, tobacco, cotton, rice, maize and wheat flour.

Manufactured goods such as cement, petroleum, textiles, sugar, confectionery, beer, salt, fats and oils, steel products, paper, plastics and pharmaceuticals were also traded across the region.

But South Sudan does not export any of these products. The country relies heavily on the Partner States for import.

Experts say Uganda has been the region’s most consistent trade partner, surpassing Tanzania in 2017.

It is on this basis that the country’s President has rallied his supporters to give him a 5th term in office.

During and after the recent elections, Museveni said he was still in politics to realize the dreams of the regional federation and move Uganda to a middle-income country.

Next month’s meeting is expected to echo Museveni’s elections ideals.

The East African website quoted the bloc’s secretariat as saying the meeting will discuss the appointment of the next secretary-general of the EAC, judges to the East African Court of Justice and infrastructure plans for the period 2021-2024.

“We need to see that the movement of goods and people is going on uninterrupted and that the Customs Union is operating,” said Nshuti Manasseh, Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of the EAC and the chairperson of the Council of Ministers.

The regional bloc has also prioritised recovery plans for the region’s economy that has been battered by Covid-19 measures and regulations.

Recently, the East African Business Council called on the Partner States to lower and harmonize COVID-19 testing fees.

Currently, Tanzania and Burundi charge a standard fee of $100 for both nationals and foreigners, while Kenya and Uganda charge $60 -respectively.

South Sudan has just lowered its charging fee to $40 for nationals and $80 for foreigners.

But in a statement seen by Eye Radio, the regional business council said harmonizing and reducing the fee will ease the cost of doing business and boost intra-East African Community trade.

The meeting will be conducted over a number of sessions that will include senior government officials and permanent secretaries, and the Council of Ministers.

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