President Yoweri Kaguya Museveni has said that to realize meaningful full integration of the East Africa Community, there is a need to prioritize prosperity, markets, and security.
“If you want prosperity in Africa, the way forward is markets! To be able to negotiate for bigger markets in Africa and in East Africa. If I am a businessman or businesswoman and I produce a product or service, how many people will buy from me,” he said.
The President was speaking at the signing of the accession treaty by the Democratic Republic of Congo to the East African Community, which took place today at State House Nairobi Kenya.
The East African community is regional integration of now seven member states; Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya and the new entrant the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Museveni reiterated the need for strategic security calling on member states for a united effort in ensuring security in the region.‘’If there is terrorism in Somalia it affects Kenya, if there is a problem in Uganda it affects Kenya, yet we don’t work together to solve it. The problems are Pan African, they are global yet we act parochially,’’ he said.
Museveni supported President Uhuru Kenyatta’s suggestion to have Swahili as a common language for East Africa saying that this will go a long way in uniting the people of the region who already share a lot of similarities in language and culture.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, the current chair of the East African community welcomed DRC to the East African community and thanked the Heads of State of member countries for their commitment, guidance and support to realize the vision of the community.
“To get to this commitment it has taken strong leadership and commitment to the ideals of the East African Community mission agenda and a clear understanding on the shared benefits that come from working together,” he said.
President Uhuru said that the region has already started realizing the promise of the East African Community evident in the free movement of people, goods and services across the region.
He said that this will lead to harnessing of business opportunities, strengthen economic muscle in the region and improve competitiveness of each member state for the benefit of all.
He welcomed President Felix Tshekedi and the people of DR Congo to the East African community customs union and the East African community Common market which are the signature pillars of the union and the foundation on which the political, social, trade, investment and economic interest stand. He pledged full cooperation with the new entrant to realize the mission of the East African community.
On his part, Tshisekedi thanked heads of member states for expediting the vetting and negotiation since he applied to join the community and promised to fulfill all the requirements of the accession.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda welcomed the signing of the accession treaty for DRC saying that for long there has been a lot of talking but its now time to work.
“We have made many speeches but now we must get down to work to put in action the statements we have made” he said.
The East African heads of state also unveiled the new map of the East African community showing the seven member countries.
“DRC’s accession to the EA community which has been hitherto been on bilateral level will now be cemented with the hope of maximizing exploitation of both natural and human resources in the region,” said Tshisekedi.