The President of Kenya, Dr William Ruto, has urged his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni to remove all barriers to free movement of goods and services across East African Community member states.
Speaking at Uganda’s 60th Independence Day celebrations at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala on Sunday, 09 October 2022, Mr Ruto said there is no reason the East African Community members cannot fast track regional integration.
“Mzee Yoweri Museveni is our elder. We have tremendous respect for him, and we look up to him to now work so that we can eliminate the borders that separate our people in East Africa and Africa,”
“There is no way we can’t have food in our region. If it’s in Uganda, it should find its way to Kenya. If there are opportunities in Kenya, Ugandans should be able to access these opportunities,” he explained.
According to Mr Ruto, trade in the region is lagging behind, as a result.
“I have a word for our business people. The business people in our community are lagging behind because of our policymakers,” he said.
‘It is clear to us that we can’t share poverty, and we cannot share hunger, but we can share opportunities and prosperity,” he added.
President Évariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi and South Sudan’s Salva Kiir Mayardit also re-echoed Mr Ruto’s remarks.
“We can only be stronger if we work together. Burundians will never forget President Museveni’s contribution in establishing peace as the regional coordinator. For the sake of peace, nothing should stand in our way,” Ndayishimiye said.
“As Africans, this should be our century to uplift our people from abject poverty, chronic diseases and ignorance,” Kiir added.
In his remarks, President Museveni lashed out at the West whom he accused of stifling African growth.
“The most infuriating are the agents of foreign interests in Africa. These oppose our value-edition efforts and constantly import things from outside,” he said.
“In Uganda we’ve had fights with political actors over value addition. Everything is got from outside yet the raw materials are available. At least we have started producing our own posho, processed milk, fertilisers & some textiles,” he added.
He said the global value for trade in coffee is $460b but The coffee-growing countries of the world get only $25b, and wonderful Africa gets only $2.5b.
“Much of this money coming to Africa comes to Uganda ($800 million),” he said.
The EAC partner states are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and DR Congo. The countries become members of the bloc when they meet certain conditions set out in the 1999 Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.