Kenya’s operation in Somalia and the application of South Sudan are among key issues slated for discussion during the East African Community Heads of States and Governments summit set for Tuesday.
EAC secretary general Richard Sezibera said the leaders will also find ways in which the region could exploit Lake Tanganyika’s potential.
Addressing media experts during the start of Advanced Training on East African Community Integration Thursday, Dr Sezibera said all member states support Kenya’s fight against Somalia militia Al-Shabaab.
Accompanied by GIZ official Elizabeth Wanyoike and EAC’s Richard Owora Othieno, Chatbar Sukdev and Deutche Welle Akademie’s Charles Odong, Dr sezibera said EAC was also partnering with African Union forces in Somalia.
“Somalia is on the agenda of the Council of Ministers and Heads of States and Governments Summit. EAC is committed to finding long term solution to Somalia so that its people can find peace and stability they deserve,” Dr Sezibera said.
On South Sudan, Dr Sezibera said insecurity in the young nation could not prevent it from joining EAC.
“We have close relationship with South Sudan. It has just come out of bigger problem of war with the help of EAC. Of all regional economic blocs EAC is better placed to admit it,” the SG said.
“It will not be first time EAC will be dealing with countries that have emerged out of conflict as it had done so before with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi,” he added.
Dr Sezibera added that Kenya is expected to take over the EAC chairmanship from Burundi during the Bujumbura’s meeting.
He said EAC has implored the need to unfold the untapped socio-economic potentials available in Lake Tanganyika for the benefit of millions of people living along the lake and the region at large.
D Sezibera said that the lake has a lot of potential, which has yet to be tapped for the benefit of east Africans.
“Thus, is why we came up with this important development conference which will involve all key stakeholders in the region to avail those potentials and come up means to tap those potentials,” he said.
“We want people to be fully aware of the potentials available in the lake, which is shared by four countries like Tanzania, Burundi, DRC and Zambia. There are lots of potentials that need to be tapped in the lake through investment as it is in other lakes in the region.”
The Lake Tanganyika Basin Development Conference is scheduled to kick-off next Tuesday here in Bujumbura and will be attended by EAC Heads of State, including Kenya’s President Kibaki.
Commenting on the weakening of regional currencies against major currencies , the secretary general said the proposed Monetary Union Protocol will help arrest some of the challenges facing the region.
He said that through the protocol some mechanisms will be put in place to address currency fluctuations in the region.
“Monetary union will be one of the lasting solutions to strengthen regional currencies. We’re also working on the regional industrialisation policy so as to make the Partner States export more goods than import,” he said.
He also underscored the role of the media play a pivotal role in fostering the EA integration process, saying it can help to address key developmental challenges facing the region as well as addressing existing fears amongst east Africans on the regional integration process.
Dr Sezibera said: “Sometimes, EAC uses technical terms on a number of issues, but the media can simplify those technical jargon so that they can be easily comprehended by ordinary people in the region.”