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EDITORIAL: INFRASTRUCTURE KEY TO EAC ECONOMIC GROWTH

Saturday February 13 2021

In April 2012, the Commissioner for Economic Affairs in the Uganda government’s ministry of East African Community at the time, Al Hajji Rashid Kibowa, said “infrastructural investment was crucial if the East African region was to get the full benefits of regional integration…”

Mr Kibowa was addressing a ‘National Workshop on Developments in the Regional Integration Process.’

Held at the Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala on April 5, 2012, the Workshop was organised by the Kampala-based Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI).

Nearly nine years later, we’re told “poor (economic) infrastructure continues to be a barrier to the flow of trade within the East African Community (EAC)…” This was said by the executive director of the East African Business Council (EABC), Mr Peter Mathuki, after making an inspection tour of the One-Stop Border Post at the Busia crossing point on the common Kenya/Uganda border.

Based in Arusha – which is also the headquarters of the EAC regional economic bloc – EABC is the apex body of private sector associations and corporates in the six EAC member nations of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

To drive the point home, Mr Mathuki said poor infrastructure continues to adversely impact “wider regional integration efforts.” In that regard, he urged the partner states to prioritise improvement and upgrading of the economic bloc’s border-crossing posts to minimise traffic snarls-up.

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As we cited Mr Mathuki in our February 11, 2021 edition, appropriate economic infrastructure would facilitate seamless flow of trade goods and services, as well as the movement of people (labour, skills, technology transfers, traders, etc.) across borders within and beyond the regional integration zone.

We, therefore, urge the relevant EAC authorities across the board to heed Al-Hajji Kibowa, Mr Mathuki and other stakeholders/well-wishers in our accelerated regional integration to create enabling environments that include functional economic infrastructure and friendly policies-cum-regulatory frameworks.
 

TANZANIA AT THE TOKYO OLYMPICS

Athletics was the only sport in which Tanzania excelled during the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, Russia – thanks to Filbert Bayi and Seleman Nyambui who won silver medals in the Marathon.

About 40 years later, Tanzania prepares to feature in the Tokyo Olympics slated for July and August this year. So far, only two runners have already qualified to participate in the Marathon: Alphonce Simbu and Failuna Matanga.

Several other Tanzanians are expected to seek Olympics qualifying marks in assorted events to be staged in different world countries, including amateur boxing and Judo.

However, the resurging Covid-19 malady threatens to wreak havoc on the Olympics qualifying events – thereby making it hard for more Tanzanians to qualify. But, questions already arise, including why only the two Tanzanians managed to qualify for the Tokyo Games. Why didn’t more Tanzanians seek to qualify early enough, pray? The answer(s) to this and other questions is/are yet to be given by the relevant authorities. But, it is an open secret that many of the sportsmen and women preferred to feature in professional, well-rewarding sports rather that the Olympic Games for amateurs.

This raises the issue of patriotism – or lack of it. We urge the newly-elected Athletics Tanzania (AT) leaders to find out the truth about this – and take the requisite measures to rectify the situation.