World Bank Hails EAC for Steady Progress in Regional Integration
East African Community Secretariat; Arusha, Tanzania; 24 March 2017:
The World Bank has hailed the East African Community for the steady progress it has made towards the creation of the Common Market.
Mr. Ahmadou Moustapha Ndiaye, the World Bank’s Coordinating Director on EAC integration noted in particular the operationalization of the Single Customs Territory by the EAC Partner States, adding that the region had experienced increased intra-regional trade.
Mr. Ndiaye further praised the EAC Secretariat for the efforts it is undertaking to monitor the implementation of the Common Market Protocol with the aim of lifting all the remaining barriers to free movement of people, labour, goods, services and capital.
Mr. Ndiaye said that there had been excellent collaboration between the EAC and the World Bank, noting that the Community had been very active in recent years in engaging the bank and developing a programme of collaboration to support the implementation of its ambitious regional integration agenda.
“The EAC leadership reached out to the Partner States and convinced Ministers of Finance to approach the Bank and request its technical and financial support to the implementation of programmes sponsored by the EAC Secretariat and other EAC regional institutions such as the Lake Victoria Basin Commission and Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Programme, among others,” said the Bank official.
He said that this active engagement with the World Bank led to the development of a strong active support programme worth US$2.97 billion which represents 33% of total International Development Association (IDA) regional lending in Sub-Saharan Africa as of today.
He observed that among the portfolio of projects funded by IDA were those that support EAC institutional and capacity development, adding that the implementation was progressing well.
“These include financial sector integration, capacity development in financial management of the Secretariat and EAC institutions, statistical capacity development for the Regional Bureau of Statistics and medicine regulatory harmonization,” said the Bank official.
He, however, disclosed that only 19% of the agreed amount had been disbursed as of now.
“The EAC Secretariat and member states need to take strong actions to accelerate the pace of implementation and deliver concrete results to the people of the region, in particular by speeding up the implementation of infrastructure projects,” said Mr. Ndiaye.
Mr. Ndiaye was speaking during a meeting with EAC Secretary General Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The meeting was called to discuss the way forward on EAC Financial Sector Development and Regionalization Project (FSDRP).
The Secretariat, on its part, led by Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko urged the Bank to support various priority areas including: the harmonisation of commercial laws across the EAC region; creation of an e-business register; issues of connectivity especially interlinking of banks; harmonisation of public financial management to similar standards across all the Partner States, and; harmonisation of statistics in the region to promote banking inter-operability.
The Secretariat was of the view that an e-business registry would help integrate trade across East Africa in addition to being critical for the success of the East African Monetary Union. The Monetary Union will only be achieved if there is full financial integration.
The e-business register would also facilitate the establishment of a fully single market for trade within East Africa.
On issues of connectivity, the Secretariat noted that it had in place plans to increase investment in roads, dry ports and inter-modal transport on Lakes Tanganyika and Victoria with additional focus on the navigability of waterways.
The EAC Secretariat asked the Bank to support the harmonisation of statistics in the region by providing Partner States’ statistical bureaus with money and equipment.
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Notes to Editor:
Since its inception in June 2011 with a US$16 million IDA grant by the World Bank and other development partners, FSDRP has registered remarkable progress in six (6) major components, namely:
- Financial inclusion and strengthening market participants;
- Harmonization of financial laws and regulations against common standards;
- Mutual recognition of supervisory agencies;
- Integration of financial market infrastructures;
- Development of regional bond market, and;
- Capacity building
In response to the successes of the project, the EAC Secretariat successfully negotiated addition funding to the tune of US$10.5 million to be implemented over a three-year period from 2016 to 2019. The Secretariat and the Bank signed the agreement for additional funding in December 2016.
The activities supported by this additional financing will be consistent with the project development objective of FSDRP I which was to establish the foundation for financial sector integration among EAC Partner States. The additional funding will also scale up the scope of existing activities in order to deepen the development effectiveness of the project and build on the momentum attained by focusing on the policy areas that have seen the most progress so far.
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Mr Owora Richard Othieno
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About the East African Community Secretariat:
The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of five Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.