The First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga has said Uganda badly needs East African integration for its own development.
“With integration, there will be a big market for our products. With the addition of DRC to the East African Community, the market will further widen. The city of Kinshasa alone is 20 million people whereas in total, we now have a market of over 300 million people and through that, we get more opportunities for our people,”Kadaga said.
She added, “Uganda being landlocked now has two options in Kenya and Tanzania to access the sea. Now with the joining of DRC, we will also have chance to have access to the Atlantic Ocean. As a landlocked country we need access to the sea: we need more access to products, productivity and purchase power.”
Kadaga was on Thursday afternoon giving a key note address as part of the activities to mark the centenary celebrations for Makerere University.
The function was organised under the theme, “sensitizing Makerere leadership and community on the East African Community agenda.”
The Minister for East African affairs noted that integration will see increased investments, competition but will also help the country and region at large in terms of security.
Citing the situation in DRC, Kadaga said the East African Community has intervened through its chairman, Kenyan President Uhru Kenyatta.
“The chairman of East African Community His Excellency Kenyatta directed standby force to take action in Ituri and South Kivu. For a long time the people of this area have not had peace. Children have not had chance to live as children, women raped and many people killed. These are benefits of integration and cooperation,” she noted.
“We want you to know about the community and to own it. We can’t survive without integration.”
Kadaga however noted that some practices by individual countries like protectionism threaten the achievements of the East African Community.
She mentioned the recent standoff between Kenya and Uganda over agricultural products where the latter’s products like eggs and maize among others were denied entry into the Kenyan market.
She also mentioned another case where Kenya Revenue Authority was dragged to court in Kenya for allowing” too much” Ugandan sugar enter the country’s market and court issued an injunction against it.
Kadaga said she was baffled by this decision.
“… but this is part of the East African Community. How does a court issue an injunction against partner states citing another treaty? “
Nevertheless, Kadaga said the different heads of state have on several occasions met and provided solutions to some of the bottlenecks to regional integration.
“The political federation hasn’t moved according to plan but consultations are ongoing as we build confidence among member states.”
Kadaga also mentioned a number of achievements for the East African Community including free trade, movement and movement of capital among others.
“There is no reason be asked for a visa yet we all belong to the same federation. We are also building a central bank for the community to promote an East African currency. You will need just one currency to purchase goods in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania or anything other East African Community country.”
The Makerere Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe said the university has for a very long time championed the East African Community and integration through a number of programs including the Inter University Council of East Africa.
He however noted East African University games need to be further encouraged to further emphasize integration as well as ensuring Inter University Council of East Africa sets up trainings for leaders in management and leadership.