Lack of SPS Staff – A Risk to Region’s Plants
East African countries are at a risk of exposure to animal and plant diseases as only two member states (Kenya and Tanzania) have an expertise to enforce basic rules for food safety and animal and plant health standards at boarder posts. Rwanda and Burundi have none at their boarder points. Worse, at the boarder posts where there is only one person responsible for enforcing Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures, there are chances that either plant or animal SPS issues may not be covered, depending on the specialisation of the expert in charge.
PS measures ensure that food for consumers are safe and prevent the spread of pests and diseases among plants and animals. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement applies to all measures that countries put in place to protect their human, animal and plant life or health, and which may directly affect international trade.
EABC in the Integration Process
Deeper involvement of the East African Business Council (EABC) in the integration process of the East African Community (EAC) is urgently needed beyond the ‘observer’ status it has occupied since 1996. More communications flow between the EAC and EABC and harmonisation of their operations, work culture, ethics and vision of the EAC.
They should not be seen to be blocking the integration process but promoting it, with the ongoing consolidation of the EAC CU and the advanced process towards the establishment of the Common Market, the role of the private sector should become more pronounced and deeper entrenched.
Worst Financial Crisis Hit EAC
The EAC is facing deep financial crisis following failure by member states to remit their contributions to the Secretariat in Arusha. The Secretariat has appealed to member states with outstanding contributions to settle them before the situation gets worse. Statistics indicated that only 34 percent of US$23.4mn being EAC annual budget for 2008-09 had been remitted to the Secretariat.
EAC, a regional bloc made up of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, has a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$41bn. Uganda is the only country which had settled most of its contributions and paid US$3.932,971. Burundi and Rwanda have each to date paid no single cent amid reports that the two countries were still waiting for legal formalities to become full members of EAC. Rwanda was requested to pay US$5,604,733 as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
EA Plans ‘Power Pool’ to Boost Generation
A regional power pool estimated to cost US$1bn has been planned to help curb power shortage and lower costs by realising East Africa’s full generation potential. The pool will see the six East African countries interconnect their power generation sources in an effort to transfer power from countries with surpluses to deficit countries such as Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Ethiopia, Tanzania and Southern Sudan have excess power, and once the project is completed they will be in a position to export cheap power to under-supplied countries. The Congo River has vast hydro potential, enough to meet requirements of all the east and central African economies. Tanzania has more than 350 megawatts in excess, but it cannot be distributed to other countries because there is no interconnection in the region.
Ministers in Bid to Decentralise EAC
The EAC partner states are mounting quiet campaigns to decentralise the administrative organs of the trading bloc as member states race to get a grip of the affairs of the regional grouping. Currently, all the community’s governing organs — the Secretariat, Legislative Assembly and Court of Justice are operating from the Arusha’s headquarters.
Kenya’s EAC minister Amason Kingi said the clamour for decentralisation of the community’s institutions was perfectly within the provisions of the treaty establishing the trading bloc. The treaty simply says that the community’s headquarters shall be in Arusha, meaning only the Secretariat which is an administrative organ cannot be removed from Tanzania.