KENYA: If you want to make sure the East African Community comes together fully, you should focus on prosperity, markets, and security first.
If you want prosperity in Africa, the way forward is through markets! to be able to negotiate for bigger markets in Africa and in East Africa. “How many people will buy from me if I am a business man or business woman and I produce a product or service?” he asked.
The President was speaking at the signing of the accession treaty by the Democratic Republic of Congo to the East African Community, which took place today at State House Nairobi, Kenya. The East African Community is made up of seven countries: Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, and the new member, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They all live in the same region.
Museveni reiterated the need for strategic security, calling on member states to make a united effort to ensure security in the region. If there is terrorism in Somalia, it affects Kenya. If there is a problem in Uganda, it affects Kenya as well. Yet we don’t work together to solve it. “The problems are pan-African, they are global, yet we act parochially,” he said.
Museveni supported President Uhuru Kenyatta’s suggestion to have Swahili as a common language for East Africa, saying that this would go a long way in uniting the people of the region who already share a lot of similarities in language and culture. President Uhuru Kenyatta, the current chair of the East African Community, welcomed DRC to the East African Community and thanked the Heads of State of member countries for their commitment, guidance, and support to realise the vision of the community.
To get to this commitment, it has taken strong leadership and commitment to the ideals of the East African Community mission agenda and a clear understanding of the shared benefits that come from working together, he said.
President Uhuru said that the region has already started to realise the promise of the East African Community, evident in the free movement of people, goods, and services across the region. He said that this would lead to more business opportunities, a stronger economic muscle in the region, and a better competitiveness for each member state. This would be good for everyone.
He welcomed President Felix Tshekedi and the people of DR Congo to the East African Community customs union and the East African Community common market, which are the signature pillars of the union and the foundation on which the political, social, trade, investment, and economic interests stand. He said that he would work with the new members of the East African community to help them achieve their goals.
For his part, Tshisekedi thanked the heads of member states for expediting the vetting and negotiations since he applied to join the community and promised to fulfil all the requirements of accession. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda welcomed the signing of the accession treaty with DRC, saying that for so long there has been a lot of talking, but now it is time to work. “We have made many speeches, but now we must get down to work to put into action the statements we have made,” he said.
The East African heads of state also unveiled the new map of the East African community showing the seven member countries.
DRC’s accession to the EA community, which has hitherto been on a bilateral level, will now be cemented with the hope of maximising exploitation of both natural and human resources in the region, said Tshisekedi.