President Uhuru Kenyatta today said integration of the East African region will be achieved with the development of shared infrastructure and political commitment of regional leaders.
He said the region must integrate to be a truly bigger market, and economically attractive to compete with other economic giants.
“We want to compete with the economic giants of the world. If we have to compete with giants we have to be giants ourselves,” said President Kenyatta.
President Kenyatta and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni were in Busia town to commission a one-stop border post to ease the movement of goods and people across the shared border. They addressed a public barasa on the Ugandan side of Busia town.
President Museveni spoke to Uganda’s commitment to integration, but, in reference to fishing disputes by Kenyan small-scale traders, called for radar and tech surveillance to grow fish stocks as well as tackle disputes.
The customs facility, straddling the border comprises offices and space for immigration processes and verification; warehousing and cold rooms for the goods traded across the border; and facilities for expediting trade.
The one-stop border facility is part of measures President Kenyatta and his counterparts from other EAC countries have spearheaded to ease the movement of goods and people within the region.
The One-stop border post concept combines two national border controls into one thereby reducing the time it takes to clear goods and people across the shared borders. This reduces costs and overall time it takes to transport goods from one point in the region to another.
The first one-stop border post to be commissioned under the EAC integration plan was at Taveta/Holili on the Kenya-Tanzania border. Similar facilities will be set up in all border points all across the region.
Kenyatta said the commitment of the leaders of the region is bearing fruit as substantial progress has been achieved in the integration process
“I am glad that the people and the leadership of the East African Community have taken this point to heart: wherever I go in the region, I find a new appreciation of the importance of integration, and a new commitment to bringing the people of East Africa together,” said President Kenyatta.
The opening of one-stop border posts and other projects aimed at easing trade in the region has reduced the time it takes to move goods across the EAC. While in the past it took a minimum of 27 days to move a container of goods from Mombasa to western side of EAC, it now takes a maximum of five days.
Kenyatta was in Uganda from Thursday for an official visit during which he attended the 19th Ordinary Summit of the East African Community Heads of State. He also attended a Heads of State retreat that discussed funding for infrastructure development and health.
President Museveni said economic integration will bring prosperity, security and unity.