Africa-Press – Rwanda. Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente has said the East African Community (EAC) registered commendable progress in intra-regional trade, since the coming into force of its customs union more than a decade ago.
Ngirente made the observations on November 29 while addressing a special sitting of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), on behalf of President Paul Kagame in Parliment.
“Allow me to take this opportunity to acknowledge our Community’s achievements since the operationalisation of the EAC Customs Union, 18 years ago,” Ngirente said while addressing the regional lawmakers.
“The results are commendable and show a significant increase in intra-EAC trade from $5.8 billion in 2013 to $10.9 billion in 2022. This is a big achievement,” he observed.
The meeting of EALA – a legislative organ of the East African Community – is taking place in Kigali, Rwanda. It started on November 23 and runs through December 7.
Ngirente indicated that the Assembly meeting takes place at a turning point for the Community when the speed and pace of integration has gained momentum, citing the implementation of the Single Customs Territory under the Customs Union, the free movement of people under the Common Market, and the progress in implementing the Monetary Union Protocol.
However, the premier said, despite the headway made in line with customs union, “outstanding Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) continue to raise the cost of doing business, which puts our region at a disadvantage.”
Another challenge Ngirente cited is limited financing to the regional block, which he said should be addressed.
“We are aware of our Community’s budgetary and funding constraints. Therefore, there is an urgent need to find sustainable financing mechanisms to offset this challenge. This was also discussed in the last summit in Arusha,” he pointed out.
Speaking at the event, EALA Speaker Joseph Ntakarutimana referred to the speech delivered by President Paul Kagame at the sitting of EALA (fourth Assembly) held in Kigali in November 2022, in which the President urged the East African Community to hasten an alternative financing mechanism for the Community.
“We applaud the progress made so far. The 23th Ordinary Summit [of EAC Heads of State] considered the progress report on the sustainable financing of EAC and agreed on a 65 per cent equal contributions and 35 per cent assessed contributions financing formula,” he said.
“This decision of the Summit will make the activities and programmes of the Community run seamlessly and undeterred,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ngirente said that it is equally urgent for the Assembly, as the oversight organ of the Community, to take the lead in ensuring that its resources are utilised efficiently.
As Partner States continue to invest resources in the integration process, he indicated, expectations to reap the fruits of this investment grow stronger.
“Therefore, it is important for all the Organs and institutions of the Community to put the budgeted resources to proper use to achieve the intended objectives,” he said.
He also commended the legislative achievements EALA has made in enabling a stronger integration process.
In this regard, the people of the East African Community have high expectations for its governing bodies, especially in ensuring that the integration process brings positive and meaningful changes in their lives, the premier remarked.
“Therefore, timely and effective implementation of EAC projects and programnes is a priority. This will boost intra-EAC trade, competitiveness, and ease of doing business across the region,” he said.
He underscored the commitment of the Government of Rwanda to the EAC integration process.
MPs during a special sitting of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) in Kigali, on November 29.