Wednesday, January 18, 2017

 President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is rooting for enhanced economic integration as an impetus to ensuring a stronger bloc necessary for the region’s prosperity.

Addressing EALA at the commencement of the  4th Meeting of the 5th Session in Kampala late yesterday, the Head of State called on the region to embrace “a Make EAC, Buy EAC” initiative in order to protect jobs and stimulate investments in the market. 

President Museveni called on the region to take advantage of its population size which he termed a resource for the EAC.  “If there is wealth of the East African region, which many do not talk about often – this is the population of the region.  It is one of the most important factors given that it has 162 Million people including Republic of South Sudan”, President Museveni said.  The President maintained population of the EAC was a wealth creator made up of producers of goods and services through offering skilled, unskilled and intellectual competencies as well as consumers.

The President said textiles, apparels, shoes and automotive constitute some of the industries whose products could either be made in the region or locally assembled.  The President gave a further example of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia saying the northern neighbour was today prioritizing local assemblage of motor vehicles.

He said the time had come for the region to begin discarding the importation of second-hand clothes (Mitumba) saying Uganda was spending over 880 Million Dollars annually on textiles coming from outside the region.

“We (EAC) cannot continue to be a market for imports,” the Head of State said. “We need to use the policy instruments to ensure local production”, he added.  

The President said the region was consolidating on its gains in Infrastructure and said opening of a new Berth at the port of Mombasa, construction of the Standard Gauge Railway, improvement of roads in the Republics of Kenya and Tanzania, as well as stable electricity would ensure the costs of doing business were reduced.

He reiterated that EAC Political Federation would in the long run, ensure stability and the future safety of Africa and termed unification of the region as a strategic security for the EAC in the face of the world powers. 

One Partner State in the region cannot do it alone, we must stay united.  We must therefore enhance and talk about Political Federation,” President Museveni said.

The President called for the conservation of the environment saying it was a serious issue that needs to be addressed.   He maintained that Uganda and the EAC region would need to restore the wetlands as a matter of priority, and avoid tilling the surrounding areas to grow rice and other crops, saying the practice was further debilitating the amount of rain across the entire EAC region.

President Museveni hailed East Africans for fighting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) saying the cultural practice was outdated and cruel. On social cohesion, the President rooted for Kiswahili saying it was a unifying factor for the entire region.   He said Kiswahili was widely spoken among the over 160 Million inhabitants at the EAC.

In attendance were key government officials, legislators from the Parliament of Uganda, representatives of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the private sector as well as the representatives of the EAC Youth Ambassadors platform among others.

In his welcome remarks, the Speaker of the EALA, Rt. Hon Daniel F. Kidega noted that the Sitting was taking place at an irreversible time in the regional integration process.
He called on the region to prioritise food security in the advent of climate change and to have contingency programs to address the looming famine, the region was likely to face.
  1. Debate on the Gender Equality and Development Bill, 2016, Administration of the East African Court of Justice Bill, 2016 and the EAC Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Bill, 2016.
  1. Receive and debate on various Reports of Committees of EALA including that of the audit and on the status of railway infrastructure development in the Partner States.
  1. In addition, we expect to debate on specific Motions, pass Resolutions and pose questions to the Council of Ministers.

“I have recently traversed the region and noticed the dire lack of rains”, he said.  “Governments likewise should strengthen irrigation systems, promote joint water-conservation efforts, early warning systems, research, extension and training”, he added.

The Speaker called for the maintenance of peace and security in the region saying the stability of Partner States was vital for progress.  He urged the region to embrace democratic ideals and good governance.  The Speaker further called for free and fair elections in the region.

Democratic elections are critical as the reverse could pose serious challenges to our stability, demoralize investors and lead to slow-down of economies.   Adherence to Constitutions and electoral laws on the part of the leaders, politicians and electoral regulatory bodies is therefore key”, the Speaker said.

On the other side, citizens must exercise their constitutional rights in a just manner, well aware that choices have consequences.  At this juncture, I wish our Sister Partner States of Kenya and Rwanda who are going to polls in 2017 free, peaceful and credible elections”, he added.

The EALA Speaker noted that the 3rd Assembly had made progress and cited some of the milestones realized including enactment of 25 Bills, adoption of 63 Resolutions and passage of 80 reports.  The Assembly has likewise streamlined sensitization activities as well as other governance instruments including the Rules of Procedure.

At the Plenary, the Assembly has the following notable business:

This is the last Sitting of the Assembly in the Republic of Uganda in line with the Principle of rotation.   The Assembly which has two more sittings before its tenure ends in June 2017.


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