By. Maureen Naisenyu Ntari
“We have set aside 220 million pounds to help support projects and activities that promote the East Africa Community (EAC) Integration process.”The British High Commissioner to Kenya, Mr. Nic Hailey informed the Cabinet Secretary to the Ministry of EAC and Northern Corridor Development(EAC&NCD) Mr.Peter Munya, when he paid a courtesy call to him at his office in Nairobi. The two discussed ways in which Britain could partner with the Ministry of EAC to promote the integration process.
The CS informed the commissioner on the big four agenda that the government is aiming to achieve and also brought to his attention the Rapid Results Initiative which his ministry wants to achieve by the end of August this year. The project is aimed at creating visibility of the ministry and the EAC integration. The activity that will take 100 days will first be conducted in the counties along the borders between partner states.
“We want to have continuity even as we exit the European Union (EU). It will be hard to transition and thus to stop the gap we are taking all the agreements from EU to Britain.” Mr.Nic Hailey said. He also expressed the willingness of his country to partner in trade with the EAC and Kenya. He however added that if the EAC does not sign the trade agreement then his country is willing to go ahead with Kenya and the member states that come on board.
Mr. Munya said that the EAC treaty provides the principle of variable geometry; if a member is not ready then the other members are allowed to move ahead without her. He insisted that the region is heading in the same direction but other members are moving faster.”It’s within the treaty and we can either move as a bloc which is the better option but we can move on our own,” he stated. However he was categorical about the successful steps the EAC region has been taking and other projects that are ongoing including the one network for telecommunication that Tanzania will be joining in December 2018.
The CS informed the Commissioner of the progress they have made through partnering with TMEA including the development of the One Stop Border Post mentioning the commencement of the Malaba OSBP which is being supported by TMEA, and the monitoring of the Non-Tariffs Barrier.Mr.Munya also pointed out the new mandate of the ministry on the northern Corridor development.
“The OSBP does not only concentrate on the EAC but also the bilateral agreements. The main goal is to be able to make trade easy and coordinating the infrastructure and that’s where we want Britain to help us out.”Said Mr.Munya. Mr. Hailey informed the CS on the export opportunities that they are looking to promote for EAC member states to the U.K.However the CS said that as much as exporting goods to the U.K is a great opportunity for the region, the standards are hard and should be revised to cater for the EAC exporters.
Other officers present during the discussion include: The Principal Secretary to the Ministry of EAC& NCD Dr.Susan Koech, Mr.Kipkorir Arap Korir the National Coordinator Northern Corridor Development, Silvester Kasuku the Director LAPPSET, Alex Ole Nkoyo the Secretary Administration .