EAC cross-border investments totalled $583 million last year

Summary

  • That is a multiple times increase from investment worth $190 million in 2010 when the EAC Common Market protocol came into force.

Arusha. The value of cross border investments in the East African Community (EAC) bloc hit a record high of $583 million last year.

That is a multiple times increase from investment worth $190 million in 2010 when the EAC Common Market protocol came into force.

“This is a remarkable increase for the region, which is seeking economic integration,” said Mr Edward Kitonsa, an official of the Arusha-based secretariat.

He attributed increased investments within the bloc to the protocol which sought to eliminate investment and trade barriers.

There were a total of 91 investment projects registered in the seven nation bloc last year from 54 projects eleven years ago.

Mr Kitonsa revealed this here yesterday when briefing journalists from the member states on key integration projects under implementation.

He said despite some challenges, the region was set to benefit from gradual removal of a host of cross border business barriers.

“The Common Market Protocol, like other initiatives, is mandated to address and scrap trade and investment barriers,” he pointed out.

The protocol, one of the four pillars of integration,was signed by the partner states in November 2009 and came into force in July 2010.

It is aimed to accelerate economic growth and development through free movement of goods, persons, labour, services and capital.

They also include Right of Establishment and Right of Residence within the bloc which recently admitted DR Congo as its seventh member.

The capacity building seminar for journalists from the region is taking place at the EAC headquarters; being one of the information dissemination initiatives.

Mr Kitonsa acknowledged the challenges that have hindered swift implementation of the protocol by the member countries.

However, he clarified the right of residence, saying it was not automatic for anyone from the region to seek residence in any partner state.

“Right of residence is pegged to the right of migrating workers, self-employed persons or those intending to establish businesses in the country of destination.

“These are entitled to right of residence under Articles 10 and 13 of the protocol. It is not automatic to settle in any EA country by virtue of being an East African,” he stressed.

There was a heated discussion on this as some journalists claimed that some EAC member countries were “restrictive” on property ownership by the migrants.

However, the EAC official was categorical on land acquisition, saying it was governed by the national laws of each respective state.

“Article 15 of the Protocol is clear on land. It has specified that land ownership shall be governed by the national laws,” he explained.

The EAC director of Social Services, Dr Irene Kisaka, said the EAC integration efforts have often been overshadowed by negative reports on persistent trade hurdles.

“This may have been due to insufficient information reaching the public on what is being done to integrate the region,” she said.

She said the training for senior journalists which kicked off yesterday was one of the attempts to create awareness of the regional projects.

“Media plays a critical role. Media shapes public opinion. That is why we have initiated this to increase our visibility,” she observed.

However, Dr Isaka stressed that the regional body would like to see matters pertaining to the EAC reported “objectively and accurately”.

Mr Simon Owaka, the head of communication Unit at the secretariat, said this was the second initiative taken lately, the first being a workshop for editors in July this year.

The capacity building programme for the media is one of the projects supported by GIZ, the German international cooperation agency at the EAC.