By Michael Okidi

Newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for East African Community and Northern Corridor Development, Peter Munya has pledged to reinvigorate the regional integration pace and ensure Kenyans reap maximum benefits from the integration agenda.

Mr Munya pledged to work closely with the various Ministries, Agencies and Departments engaged in various sectors of the integration process to ensure the integration speed and focus are purposed and hastened towards full realization of an economically prosperous, socially cohesive and politically united East Africa.

Speaking at the Ministry’s headquarters in Nairobi when he took over from his predecessor, Mrs Phyllis Kandie, Mr Munya said the Ministry would prioritize public capacity building through an intensified sensitization campaign to ensure Kenyans are aware, appreciate and benefit from the EAC integration process.

“We must all play our roles in ensuring the smooth progress of the integration agenda by effectively dealing with all the bottlenecks to regional trade and movement,” he said when he addressed the Ministry’s senior officers and the media after taking over from Mrs Kandie.

The Cabinet Secretary noted with satisfaction the numerous success stories so far registered under the EAC integration agenda, citing massive infrastructural projects like the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Nairobi, which, he said, was already a demonstrable boost to increased trade volumes along the Northern Corridor.

He praised his predecessor, Mrs Kandie and the Ministry’s technical team for the marvelous achievements so far realized and pledged to build on the momentum for faster realization of the regional bloc’s objectives.

“During Mrs Kandie’s tenure, several milestones were realised in the Customs Union, Common Market and the initial stages of the Monetary Union.  Moving forward, I intend to build on the success story and expand on other untapped areas to ensure Kenya accesses more benefits of regional integration,” Mr Munya said.

The expansion of the Ministry’s mandate to include the Northern Corridor Development, he noted, would include the identification, coordination and implementation of projects in the Northern corridor to increase interconnectivity and spur trade and development in Kenya, the larger East Africa and beyond.

The Cabinet Secretary further pledged to ensure full implementation of the decisions of the EAC Heads of State Summit and Council of Ministers, reached during the last meeting in Kampala, Uganda, and which included giving new impetus to the regional integration process, institutional restructuring of the EAC Secretariat to ensure efficiency and value for money; and working together with the relevant stakeholders to make the region more competitive in the automotive assembly and textile industries as a cushion against importation of used products.

Meanwhile, Mr Munya revealed that Kenya was gunning to host the anticipated East African Monetary Institute which will be a point of reference for the implementation of monetary policies for the full implementation of the East African Monetary Union and eventual launch of a single regional currency.

On the recent cross border challenges between Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania, in relation to reported cross border restrictions and other Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs), Mr Munya revealed that the two Partner States would be working closely at the Ministerial levels to avoid an emergence of unnecessary cross border side-issues that would undermine trade between the two countries.

On her part, the outgoing Cabinet Secretary, Mrs Kandie, who takes up diplomatic duties in Belgium and the European Union as Kenya’s Ambassador, assured her successor that the technical and support staff at the Ministry would readily assist him in the realization of his mandate.

“I have no doubt in my mind that the team I am handing over to you is a dedicated group of effective professionals that will help you achieve your goals as you spearhead the EAC integration agenda,” she assured Mr Munya.