PUBLISHED ON September 24th, 2014

Rwanda to examine EAC integration benefits

Rwanda intends to collect data to examine the benefit of East African Community integration and document the country’s share to the regional bloc, a senior top government official has said

This comes after the survey done by the EAC ministry preliminarily indicating that 56% of Rwandans do not understand the significance of integration process. This could continue hurting the country’s full benefit to the bloc.

Innocent Safari, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of East African Community (MINEAC), in Kigali, said investing in assessing the integration benefit will help to highlight loopholes and point at possible solutions.

“We want to scrutinize exactly how the integration has impacted Rwandans,” he said in an interview adding that “People should know how to tap into regional opportunities for the economic development of our country and the region”.

Though Rwanda joined the community almost seven years ago, tangible benefits started accruing just within one year when three leaders Paul Kagame, Yoweri Museveni and Uhuru Kenyatta agreed to spearhead the fast tracking of integration projects on Northern corridor.

Since the inception of the Northern corridor summit among three countries, various projects are already under implementation. Among the projects is the use of single tourist visa that allows tourists to tour three countries at cheaper price.

At US$100 a tourist can move and visit different attractions without paying extra charges.

From April to July 2014, 452 tourists have used the Single Tourist Visas collected by Rwanda which is worth $45,200 accounting for Rwanda’s share of $18,080 (40 per cent)

The movement of people was also eased with the introduction of use of national identification cards, and voters and students cards to travel both by road and Air transport.

The free movement will contribute to easing of doing business by facilitating cross-border trade and investment that will spur economic growth and development.

The time import take from Mombasa port reduced from 22 days to 8 days from Mombasa to Kampala, and from 30days to 9 days from Mombasa to Kigali.

John Bosco Kalisa, the Trade Mark East Africa programs manager and expert on integration matters in Kigali, said the member states needed to embark on assessing themselves on the integration benefit as this would help them clear existing challenges.

He said if East Africa countries are still embroiled in various challenges like trade barriers that should be addressed after documenting all the existing hindrances in the member states.

Most of the transportation barriers that continue to hinder further integration include road corruption, roadblocks, and highway- bridges that hinder the free movement of goods on northern corridor. The most affected countries include the landlocked countries Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.

Source URL: All Africa

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