President Kenyatta Underscores Importance Of Infrastructure In Regional Integration

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President Uhuru Kenyatta has underscored the importance of adequate infrastructure in accelerating regional integration.

The President pointed out that the East African Community (EAC) will not be able to achieve its targets if its people cannot move from one side to the other and goods cannot be ferried from one part of the region to other with ease.

"That is why infrastructure is critical in achieving our common objective of being a common market. That is why my administration in Kenya has been keen to see infrastructure growth across the board," the President said.

President Kenyatta spoke on Thursday evening during a high-level retreat on the EAC Common Market held at the EAC headquarters in Arusha, where the East African Heads of State outlined what needed to be done to expedite the implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol as part of the efforts of entrenching integration.

Host President Samia Suluhu Hassan was among the East African leaders, including Presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Évariste Ndayishimiye (Burundi), who spoke at the retreat whose theme was "11 years of realizing the commitments of the EAC Common Market Protocol: A reflection on the achievements, opportunities, challenges and the journey ahead".

DR Congo President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi was represented at the retreat by Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, while South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit was represented by Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who attended the retreat as a special guest and observer, requested the EAC Summit of Heads of State to speed up the process of admitting Somalia into the EAC.

President Kenyatta pointed out that as long as the East African countries are not interlinked, they will remain markets for other regions, not producers.

"If we were all interlinked, we would be able to use our own raw materials, produced by ourselves, to distribute to ourselves and give access to international markets.

"But because we are not adequately interlinked, because we are not a common market, because we operate separately – which is what some people want us to be – we remain markets for other regions," President Kenyatta said.

The President informed the retreat that Kenya is linked to Tanzania through Isebania, Namanga, and Taveta borders, adding that very soon, President Suluhu will be joining the new Kenyan President, who will be elected in the August elections to open yet another landmark road that will link Lamu and Malindi all the way to Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

On the other side, President Kenyatta said Kenya is also linked to Uganda and South Sudan.

"We have done the roads from Kitale all the way to the border of South Sudan. We have also started the road from Garissa to link us to our neighbours in Somalia and Ethiopia. At the same time, we have also increased our capacity in telecommunication and fibre to reduce the cost and extend the outreach. All of these are aimed at helping us come closer together," he said.

On her part, President Samia Suluhu called for the adoption of effective farming practices to make the region's food sufficient. At the same time, President Museveni said the integration will ensure the survival and progress of the region.

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