Category Archives: East African Community News

Tanzania: The nation plans to build its nuclear power plant in the near future

Economic and Business News By Odera Omolo In Kisumu City.

REPORTS emerging from Dar Es Salaam, says Tanzania is planning to build a nuclear power plant in the near future with the technical backing of a South African and French multinational companies.

It would be the first nuclear plant of its kind in the Eastern African region. This is following a move by South Areva, a South African multinational firm, which is a member of the French multinational Areva Groups to bid to its construction.

Currently, the country, which depends on hydro-electric power to produce electricity, suffers from frequent acute power shortage.

The chairman of Areva South Africa Mohamed Madhi was recently in Dar-Es –Salaam from where he disclosed the plans to newsmen. He said his firm was seeking opportunities in East Africa to invest in nuclear power production.

He explained that Areva will produce clean energy in Tanzania though the construction of nuclear power plant pending the conclusion of negotiations with the government of that country.

“Areva is one of the leading companies that will be bidding for contracts to build energy capability in Tanzania,’ said Madhi. The firm is also a leading global nuclear energy with integrated capability across the full nuclear energy cycle from mining of uranium, to building of power stations, transmission and distribution of electricity and recycling and disposal of nuclear waste.

According to Madhu, South Africa, is currently working on a capital expansion program that will treble its power generation capacity from the current 38,000MW to about 80,00MW.

“Nuclear is expected to to form a significant portion of the energy mix in three projected capital expansion plan” Madhu said, adding that in the last capital expansion program the government anticipated that nuclear would form over 30 per cent of the new-built program.

According to Areva, nuclear is currently seen as a cost-effective environmentally friendly and relevant development energy option. Globally, it says, there is resurgence of interest in nuclear energy ,referred to in the industry as the “Nuclear Renaissance driven by the growing demand for energy among the fast growing emerging economic powers India and China.

It is also driven b the climate change issue, as other ‘base-load “option, coal fired power stations- is increasingly seen as a carbon intensive.

Madhu said the African continent ha energy resources-uranium solar, hydro, geothermal coal and gas which and underdeveloped.

However, experts at the Arusha-based Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission say extensive preparation are needed before the country can and process uranium.

The Commission’s director Prof. Idi Mkilaha in a recent interview with the EASTRAFRICAN that according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, baseline studies to assess the current level of contamination need to be made besides the mining regulations, there are regulations on safety and safeguard matters to consider.

Asked about the generation of electricity from nuclear, Prof Mkilaha said mining uranium and electricity generation are two different things.

“Major steps towards nuclear power plant development involve energy planning and analysis to establish and predict the optimum energy mix for the country in the short and long term,” he added.

Further steps include developing safeguards and nuclear regulatory framework and infrastructure, carrying out self-assessment in terms of the basic infrastructure for nuclear development and implementation, and human resources capacity development in nuclear technology.

The country also needs to carry out stakeholder and community education on nuclear power plant and its implications, identifying suitable and appropriate technology, site and nuclear power plant vendors, construction of nuclear power plant, and finally commissioning, monitoring and reviews of future development.

Prof. Mkilaha said uranium investment can take between 10 and 20 years to start paying back and as such economic benefits must be planned carefully before any commitment is made.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

Kenya: Trouble ridden Luo Council of Elders is dissolved and fresh election called next week

News Analysis By Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City

The trouble ridden Luo Council of Elders is dissolved and a fresh election for its executive committee members called for next week.

The dissolution took place at an Annual General meeting held on May 10th,2010 at the Ofafa Memorial Hall, Kisumu.

It was, however, disclosed that a section of members not happy with the move have been trying hard in vain to suppress the news of the dissolution from reaching the public domain.

According to documents availed to this writer by a member of the inner circle, the AGM was called by the organization’s Secretary-General Prof.Gilbert E.M. Ogutu, in a letter to invitation to the meting sent out to all members of the executive committee on April 22nd, 2010.

It listed eight agendas for discussion, amongst them the confirmation of all the minutes of the previous meetings, report on the trip made by its 20 members to Southern Sudan last year, financial report of the Council, the Council’s role in connection to the community participation in the country’s national politics, resolution on the way forward and the electi0ns to fill the vacant seats in the executive committee and any other businesses.

The meeting came at the time when the Council chairman Meshack Riaga Ogalo is facing a multiple of accusation and allegations against his leadership of this most powerful organ, which is the custodian of traditions and cultural virtue of the Luo Community, and the only well organized among the various tribal Council of Elders in the country

The chairman is also facing other allegations that he is working covertly with a powerful politician in the Rift Valley who is allegedly plotting for the downfall of the Luo political kingpin Raila Odinga, the allegation which the chairman has fiercely denied.

Prof Ogutu briefed the meeting about the trip the Council members made last year to Southern Sudan, where they also attended and paid their homage at the graveside of the late Southern Sudanese liberation hero Gen Dr John Garaang De Miabor who died a couple years ago in an helicopter crash in the north eastern Uganda.

The group, according to Prof Ogutu also attended the three days international conference of presidents, traditional and cultural leaders from African and Arab countries, which was held in the Southern Sudan state of Western Bahrl Ghazal after the group had been received in Juba by the Southern Sudan President Silva Kiir on arrival by air at the Southern Sudan capital, Juba.

The Luo elders were treated to a VIP status and given a state welcome by the Sudanese authorities who booked them to the most posh hotels

The elders also visited Wau City and the state where the Luo community is 0erdeived to have migrated from centuries ago before the community settled in Kenya, Uganda and part of Tanzania. In Wau, there is the highest population of Luos which forms 80 per cent of the total population while Dinkas fills the remaining gap of 20 per cent. The state of Wau, the group was told by the local governor that the population is so sparse and they local people would most welcome more Luo from East Africa to go back and settle there. The also visited Mapel, a place which is highly believed to have been the rural home of the Luos before the community moved out of the Sudan centuries ago.

The contentious issue discussed at the meeting was about the recent secret visit to Libya by the Council chairman Ker Meshack Riaga Ogalo, which was shrouded in secrecy and without consulting other members of the executive committee. It was established that Ker Meshack Riaga Ogalo was among delegates from other African and Arab states, comprising mainly traditional rulers and cultural leaders who converged in Tripoli at the invitation of Libyan strongman Col, Muamor El-Gadhafi.

During the Tripoli meeting Gadhafi is said to have told the delegates to elect their own leaders, and Ker Meshack Riaga Ogalo wasd poised to be made the leader of the Kenyan delegation. He was, however, allegedly compromised and manipulated by Kamlesh Paul Patni of the Goldenberg fame, who bought him off with a gift of a ten seat Nissan Matatu van and relegated him to the position of the vice chairmanship.

There were also unconfirmed rumors that a substantial amount of money also allegedly changed hands, but which the chairman has yet to disclose to the other Council members.

Other allegations were that a member of the Council who had her own NGO was using he Council letterhead and logo while extorting money from unsuspecting donors, the money accrued goes into individuals pockets and not to the Council coffers.

THE Council took the possession of the Ofafa Memorial Hall located on the main Kisumu Kakamega Highway, and is earning close to Kshs 100,000 per month from the tenants operating their businesses at the Hall, but the Council bank account is in the red, and nobody was in position to account for the money or explain satisfactorily where it goes

Ofafa Memorial Hall, which is named after the later ex-Nairobi City Councilor the late Anbrose Ofafa from Alego Ka-Kalkada who was shot and assassinated by the Mau Mau freedom fighters in the early 1950 during the African uprising against the British colonial and white settlers administration in Kenya was built with the donation from all Luos from all over East Africa under the auspices of the defunct Luo Union East Africa, which also had established other assets such as Luo Thrift and Trading Company, which owns a number of building in Kisumu and Maseno towns as well as a large scale sugarcane farm measuring 400m acres in Miwani area and other investments.

It was completed in 1961 with millions of shillings donated by Luos from all over East Africa, and for many years was under the management of the defunct Luo Union {EA}. But in early 1980, the retired President Daniel Arap Moi banned all the tribal welfare organizations. The Luo Union fall under the same category of tribal welfare organization despite of its massive investments.

And thereafter Ofafa Memorial Hall had changed and fallen under the different management including that of the Ramogi Institute of Advanced Technology {RIAT}, which had used it as its Kisumu City Campus for sometime. But RIAT was ejected out of it by a group of patrons of the defunct Luo Union who moved to the High Court and disputed its ownership arguing that it was erroneously handed to RIAT.

It has been the subject of numerous legal tussles in court between its registered patrons and members of the Luo Council of Elders, some of the cases are still pending before the courts. And if properly scrutinized and examined well could ends up in frauds.

Te current Luo Council of Elders is perceived to consist mostly of ODM loyalists and people whose nomination and elections to the Council are questionable. Ker Meshack Riaga Ogalo had succeeded or inherited the position from the late Joash Koyo Opien who had succeeded the late Adala Otuko . Thereafter there has never been any credible election of people from grassroots locations and regions..Most of its members are handpicked ODM political operatives, thus denying the Council the credibility it deserves to be a neutral organization catering for the entire Luo irrespective of their stations within the society and their political parties of affiliations.

There has been a lot of conflict of interests and clashes between the younger generations of MPs from Luo-Nyanza ands some members of the Council who are being accused of gross political interferences at the constituency levels. Some of the MPs have been complaining of gross interference and excessive belly-begging by some of the Council members as well as political manipulation.

When the Prime Minister Raila Odinga met the Council members three months ago, he advised them call for fresh election process in order to give the Council a representative and democratic looking face.

And when the Council meet and was expected to elect the new treasury to replace the former treasurer in whose place Mrs Dorothy Awino is currently occupying in acting capacity, the executive committee members insisted in electing the entire office including that of the chairman’s position.

Moderate members of the Council have been heard demanding that the Council should delink itself from day to day political activities of the ODM and serve members of the community,and that its executive committee should include Luos from other political parties and not exclusively the preserve of the ODM and that the Council should stop excessive indulgence in politics and only cater for the cultural issues affecting the entire Luo community.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

Uganda: Parties scramble for Buganda votes, with only nine months left until the 2011 polls

Reports Leo Odera Omolo in Kisumu City

NINE months to the 2011 elections, political parties are scrambling to win the Buganda vote.

The rush has become more complex with the refusal of the Democratic Party to join the inter-party cooperation (IPC), a loose alliance of opposition parties that are preparing to front a joint presidential candidate.

Strategists in the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), IPC and DP have been plotting to position candidates in several constituencies within Buganda.

WHY BUGANDA?

Several parliamentarians have told Saturday Vision that the Buganda vote is crucial for any party to win the presidential election and to become influential in parliament.

“Buganda is to any political party what Ohio is to candidates aspiring to be American presidents,” Kyadondo South MP and DP treasurer Issa Kikungwe remarked.

Several politicians from Buganda believe that with Museveni likely to take the west and southeast, Mao likely to take north and FDC likely to take parts of the east, the Buganda vote might determine the winner.

Buganda is also seen as being central a factor in determining the political stability of the country as it is the centre of economic activities.

The parties under the inter-parties cooperation have been promising federo, hoping this will sway voters against the NRM. The Democratic Party is also in support of federo.

The inter-party cooperation is planning to visit the Kabaka on June 9, 2010. The meeting dubbed ‘courtesy call to the Kabaka’ will discuss ways of getting support from Mengo for the IPC flag-bearer in the presidential elections.

DP FACTOR

However, DP, the most dominant opposition party in Buganda, this week announced that they will not join IPC. After a two-day retreat, the DP’s national executive committee argued that past alliances had weakened rather than strengthened it.

They, however, decided that if no single party wins the election with 50% or more, then they will ally with other opposition parties in the re-run.

An inside source told Saturday Vision that from day one of the retreat, members of the party’s executive were divided over the decision whether to join the IPC.

According to the source, key issues that delayed the decision include the split within the party, and what would happen with the DP party president if he was not elected the joint opposition flag bearer. For years, DP has boasted as the oldest, most diplomatic and influential political party.

This was even after its presence in Buganda failed to register the party’s success in the 1996, 2001 and 2006 elections both presidential and parliamentary save for a few seats the party has in the 8th parliament.

The FDC national chairman, Sam Njuba has warned that unless DP accepts to work with other opposition parties in the forthcoming elections, it may not even retain the few seats it has in the house.

DP currently has nine MPs, making it the third strongest party after NRM and FDC. DP parliamentarians include Joseph Balikuddembe (Busiro South), Issa Kikungwe (Kyaddondo South), Lulume Bayiga (Buikwe East), Erias Lukwago (Kampala Central) and Matia Nsubuga, among others.

But the party plans to boost its strength by wooing independent MPs in various constituencies within Buganda and other regions to join the oldest party. “We are going to equip them with techniques for guarding votes and train them on political will for the party.

We shall also equip them with campaign materials that speak and address issues for Buganda,” Kikungwe said.
In Buganda, the party has enjoyed support though it still lags behind NRM.

But the party has been hit by internal wrangles. “While the IPC has missed the seal of the coalition by DP and PPP refusing to join, the NRM ruling party will eventually benefit from the failure of the parties to unite ahead of the 2011 elections,” one of the FDC MPs said.

There is a possibility that the second faction of DP might go ahead and ally with IPC. This would be bad for Mao’s faction since the other faction has some of the most influential DP members.

The faction has names like Betty Namboze and Lulume Bayiga. Several Mengo officials are also sympathetic to the Lulume-Namboze faction.

Like other opposition parties, DP strategists hope to capitalise on the standoff between the central government and Mengo. But they would be naïve to think this will automatically turn voters against the ruling party.

NRM STRATEGY

Since 2001, the NRM has enjoyed an overwhelming wins in Buganda in both presidential and parliamentary elections. To make a dramatic change in 2011 would require a master stroke.

The NRM deputy spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, argues that what is perceived as a standoff is only a misunderstanding between the ruling party and some individuals in Buganda and not the entire community.

He argues that even in the previous elections such misunderstandings existed but the NRM won. “Remember that NRM has over 72% of the constituencies from Buganda and we are going to retain the same number or get more MPs in the next Parliament,” he said. “The negative elements in Mengo are hiding behind the demand for federo, but there is no single district in Buganda that has passed a resolution supporting federo.”

The NRM also has the majority of the local leaders in Buganda from LC1 to LC5. He says his research shows that the NRM is growing stronger in Buganda. “We are not going to lose them in the elections.”

The NRM plans to continue with grassroots mobilisation locally refered to as kakuyege, in Buganda.

“Our strategy in Buganda is to continue engaging in constructive dialogue with all the groups in Buganda, the elected leaders, cultural leaders and all the other groups.” It also plans to “isolate”

Mengo officials considered as leaning towards the opposition “such that they lack a solid ground where to stand when disseminating negative propaganda against NRM.”

The NRM remains the biggest beneficiary of DP’s refusal to join IPC. Anti-NRM votes in Buganda will be divided between IPC and the two factions of DP. The pro-NRM votes on the other hand, will remain together, at least in the presidential elections.

MENGO MOVE

Men go insiders say Baganda kingdom also wants to have a bigger say in national issues and is therefore fronting candidates for parliamentary elections.

They want Parliament to have a good number of legislators who can articulate Buganda issues.

Sources say Mengo has already identified a number of candidates for this purpose. Mengo information minister Charles Peter Mayiga, for instance, has been linked with the race for Bukoto Central parliamentary seat in Masaka District. The seat is currently being held by Parliamentary speaker Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi.

Other parliamentary aspirants closely linked to Mengo are Uganda Martyrs Namugongo head teacher Dr. John Muyingo, who is eyeing Bamunanika in Luwero district; Medad Lubega for Busiro East and Bagunywa Nkalubo for Lubaga North.

Others are Nakiwala Kiyingi for Kampala Woman and Aloysius Kyeyune Kitikyamuwogo, who is yet to decide on a constituency.

“We need to front candidates who are well acquainted with issues that affect Buganda and Baganda. Our region deserves a new face in Parliament and we need strong advocates for people’s needs,” a source said.

Njuba says Buganda needs a strong fundraising drive in order to support these candidates.

Ends

Tanzania: 1000 delegates from 86 countries to converge in Dar for the World Economic Forum

Economic News By LeoOdera Omolo In Kisumu Town.

Important gatherings which will involve over 1000 delegates from 85 countries are expected this week in the Tanzanian capital, Dar Es Salaam to attend the 20th World Economic Forum.

According to the Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, eleven African heads of state and governments will be among the participants expected to be in attendance at the forum which starts on Thursday.

The forum comes on the heel of the just concluded Investment Conference held in the Uganda capital, Kampala, which both Presidents Yoweri Museveni, Jakaya Kkwete and Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga were the key speakers.

Preside Kikwete will be the host of the forum, which is expected to explore he theme ‘Rethinking of Africa’s Growth Strategy.’

Kikwete told the organizers and newsmen in Dar Es Salaam that Africa is full of potential and it has been growing steadily despite the economical instability and recession that is facing the world today.

“We will have the opportunity to examine Africa’s present strategy to ensure there is a better tomorrow,” said President Kikwete.

The forum is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Africa meeting. At the same time, Africa is marking 50 years since the start of independence movement that transformed the continent’s geopolitical landscape.

“It is a fitting gesture to celebrate this milestone year by hosting the Africa meeting for the first time in East ,said World Economic Forum director Katherine Tweedie in a press statement issued in Dar Es Salaam at the weekend

She said it is encouraging o see the strong support from President Kikwete, the government and the business community at this pivotal point in time, when Africa and the rest of the world seek answers to the economic crisis to find solutions.’.

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East African Community: Kenya has already endorsed and ratified the EAC Common Market Protocol

Regional Report By Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu Citry

Kenya, which is one of the three founder member of the much revitalized East African Community [EAC} has finally ratified the East African Common Market Protocol, signaling its readiness for the next July deadline for free movement of people and goods across the region.

Tanzania another founder member of the EAC was the first in the bloc to ratify the agreement, clearing doubts over its c commitment to the deal.

Rwanda, which has been the most flexible in opening its borders to its partners in the East African Community, has also approved it, and it is just awaiting parliament’s nod to sign it into law

In the absence of a regional constitution, EAC Treaty matters have to be r4eferred to regional jurisdiction for ratification, although plans are underway to craft a cross border legal system.

Since the Common Market Protocol was signed in November last year and July 2010 set as the deadline to implement the concept, it was expected that EAC member states would have ratified it by the end of April 2010.

The approval by the cabinet come just a week after EAC related Ministries prepared a cabinet memo to seek a nod to ratify the document, which is also expected to trigger other legal reforms that will prepare the country doe the common market.

“An approval by the cabinet gives the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the power to inform the Arusha based EAC secretariat that Kenya has agreed to the provision of the C0mmon Market Protocol,” Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in charge of the East African Community Affairs David Nalo has said.

Each one of the EAC countries had up to July this year to deposit a copy with the Secretariat. The Protocol implementation will open the region’s borders for easy movement of labor, capital, goods and services within member states.

“The protocol will affect the existing national law and partner states have been asked to comply with its provisions,” Kenya’s Assistant Minister for EAC Affairs Peter Munya told newsmen last week during a Common Market sensitization meeting.

The EAC Ministry has already established a task force headed by Justice Stewart Madzayo to audit the national laws and recommend reforms that are needed to weed out parts that conflict with the provisions of the protocol.

The task force is expected to detail how the current national laws limit movement of labor and capital markets and give recommendation on the nature of the required administrative and legal reforms.

Kenya’s Immigration Minister Gerald Otieno Kajwang’ has already indicated that Kenya will soon eliminate work permits system for all the region citizens, following in the footsteps of Rwanda that pioneered the move three years ago.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has been pushing for a single tourist visa to promote the region. Other such calls are for the speedy conclusion of the ongoing study on uniform academic standards across the region.

The EAC is developing a common strategy to address food security and climate change. The strategy will be embodied in two policy documents-Food Security Action and the Climate Change Policy –that will be presented to the heads of state at a special summit later this month in Arusha.

Already, the drafts have been ratified by the East Africa Legislative Assembly and were reviewed at the recently held Sect oral Council of Ministers for Lake Victoria Basin and the multispectral meeting on Food Security and Climate Change in Kisumu City.

Now, the documents have been poasased on to the partner states for review and eventual forwarding to the EAC secretariat for consolidation as they await ratification.

Ends

Uganda: Museveni, a peace maker or a trouble maker?

By Douglas O. Majwala.

I have a concern about trend of affairs in the EAC more especially with regard to political integration in the future. One thing is latent in would be leadership of this unification, and this involves H.E. Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of the Republic of Uganda. All signs are that Museveni is on a blueprint to become the first king of this sub-continent. He is determined and is on a drawing board and is not even known whether others watch this carefully.

Museveni a once guerrilla combatant could have only feared celebrity like the late Mwl. Nyerere who had the guts to silence and reduce to nothing [low profile] those who wanted to rise through barbaric means that could have tarnished the image of independent Africa and destabilize her peace, tranguility and progress.

Recent geological expert reports of Uganda’s affluence in liquid gold [oil] makes Museveni heady and has reportedly started importing heavy duty ultra-modern air fighters for unknown ends and that which even the neighbours bother not to be vigilant about the project.

Museveni’s trait is beyond tolerance. In no way he would convince any reasonable mind that he is serene whilst the world has entered him in its record of war loving lots and has vowed to remain alert and cautious of him considering his questionable international relations. He has ever had soured diplomatic ties with his neighbours with whom he is trying to form an integration [EAC] e.g. Rwanda, DRC, Kenya, Southern Sudan let alone his own people LRA and the recent Buganda Kingdom poor relationship with his government which does not qualify him to be a truely peoples’ leader [he is a least peace maker but more of a trouble maker].

The bully Museveni is dreaming and determined to become an East African superpower at a time when his colleagues in the intergration easily let this go without questioning it for their own individual countries destiny.

EAC should have carried aloft the security agenda for her lasting peace. Late Mwl. Nyerere once said “Tanzania will not consider itself free if other African countries are still tormenting in the yoke of colonialism”. Likewise EAC should follow Mwl’s philosophy by not considering itself a community if other colleagues / comrades are still agonized by LRA, INTERAHAMWE and possibly Somali invasion in north eastern Kenya and some parts of wealthy Tanzania.

Rorya Tanzania.

majwalaoriko@yahoo.co.uk

EAST AFRICA COMMUNITY: MUSEVENI URGES MEMBER STATES TO BUILD GOOD ROADS IN ORDER TO EXPEDITE THE ECONOMIC GROWTH OF THE REGION

Writes Leo Odera Omolo

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has asked leaders of the East African Community (EAC) states to consider energy and infrastructure as the number one priority in transforming the region.

Museveni’s call came after Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda ratified the common market protocol. Burundi is yet to approve it.

The protocol will permit free movement of labour, capital and services.

Addressing over 2,000 business people at the 3rd East African Investment Conference at the Speke Resort Munyonyo yesterday, Museveni said if the region sorts out its electricity and railway system, the annual growth rate can improve by about 13%. Currently the region’s growth rate is at 7%.

“In the last forty years, there has been no railway built in Africa except the Tazara in Tanzania. Awareness of the crucial role played by electricity and the railway is the core of the renaissance of Africa,” Museveni said.

The region needs about $74b to revive the roads, railway and water systems.

This money is almost equal to the region’s GDP, which stands at about $75b.

Museveni urged the partner states to unite and rebuild the region’s infrastructure.

Earlier, Tanzanian minister of the EAC and chairperson of the Council of Ministers, Dr. Diodorus Kamala, had said financing the railway and road master plan remained a challenge, and private-public partnership was the best option.

Museveni said the engineering department of the Ugandan army would kick-start the rebuilding of the railway network.

“When we go to the private sector, they quote exorbitant prices. Why can’t we rebuild the railways ourselves?” Museveni asked.

According to experts, the absence of a vibrant railway system in Africa has been one of the greatest economic tragedies of the continent.

The strength of East Africa is the abundance of high value mineral deposits like those of gold, copper and oil. These require cheap and abundant electricity and the railway for processing and transporting, Museveni said.

“Let us deal with the real issues which are keeping this region in poverty,” he advised.

Commenting on the growth of the region, Uganda’s minister of the EAC Eriya Kategaya, said foreign direct investments to the EAC had increased from $693m in 2002 to $1.7b in 2008.

“The most rewarding achievement is the intra-East Africa trade,” he added

Ends
leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

East African Community: EAC to upgrade new passports for the citizens of member states later this year

Writes Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City

The current holders of the East African passports have good news to smile about. Plans are a foot envisaged to upgrade these passports, which were previously meant to enable ease border crossings, to be upgraded to the internally accepted travelling documents.

The plans are in advance stage to enable holders of these passports, which were mainly to enable them travel within the EAC member states of Kenya, Tanzania , Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to be upgraded to the international standards of travelling documents.

This will in future, allow citizens to travel around the world. The residents, however, will have to wait for some necessary logistics such as phasing out non-digital passports and re-printing of the new one with electronic and computerized security marks etc.

The new East African Community passport will comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO] document 9303 “the national readable zone”.

Previous details of the applicant for the EAC passport now be legible through a computer from the signature and photographs will be acquired and digitally stored in a database.

The old model of the EA passport introduced nearly a decade ago by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda before the joining of the Rwanda and Burundi of the EAC two years ago, has the holder data typewritten or hand written on it. It was meant to ease border crossings within only the three sister countries.

But the document has not been so popular to with the nationals of these countries as the traditional passport issued by the Departments of Immigrations in the respective states.

It ended up being used mainly by ordinary people such as traders and students travelling across the region with the government officials and business people shunning it.

The EAC Secretary General Ambassador Juma V Mwapachu was quoted this week by the EASTAFRICAN as saying that the EA traditional passport had been accepted internally, but they were not used internationally When they were first issued, the EAC passports were valid only within the

They would eventually replace the national passports. However, the proposal is unlikely to materialize in the near future as a lot of groundwork has to be done including phasing out the national passports of the individual member states and the printing of the new passports with security marks.

Unlike the EA passports which the applicant has to pay only USED 10 to acquire and only valid for five years, national passports of the partner states are valid for ten years.

However, the regional are yet to gain popularity, especially among Tanzanians compared with Kenyans and Ugandans, according to a survey carried out by a local media house.

Meanwhile the issuance of the old EA passport has been suspended indefinitely to allow for the upgrading work to be complete..

TH newly upgraded passports will be issued only and strictly to the citizens of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

Ends

leooderaomlo@yahoo.com

Uganda: Investment conference to be held next week

CLOSE TO 2,000 DELEGATES ARE EXPECTED TO ATTEND INVESTORS CONFERENCE IN UGANDA NEXT WEEK

Writes Leo Odera Omolo in Kisumu City

Experts will speak on infrastructure, public-private partnership
Uganda will host the third session of the East African Community (EAC) Investment Conference from April 27 – 30.

In an interview with David Mugabe and Isaac Omoding, Dr. Maggie Kigozi, the executive director of Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), details the expected outcome and benefits for Uganda as host and for EAC as a region.

Maggie Kigozi

Maggie Kigozi talks about UIA performance

Below are excerpts
How many and what category of people are coming for the EAC conference?
We are targeting about 2,000 business people.

We have participants from the five EAC countries. As the host, we have 500 people and we expect 250 business people from the other countries.

We have approached every country’s chamber of commerce, manufacturers associations and all our partners in investment promotion agencies.

We will also have the five presidents and EAC ministers under their chair, Tanzania.

As host, are there any special surprises for our guests coming for the conference?

We have opportunities in the mining and petroleum sector which we did not have before.

Uganda is blessed. We have the people and the market. Our people are high-end and educated.

I meet an investor in petroleum twice a week from all over the world.

They want to see how they can get a foot in.

Unfortunately, we have halted further exploration for the time being.

We need to see how the refinery will work and how the regulation, policy and the relation between the Government and private sector will work. So for now we are focusing on five and value addition.

As EAC, we have the common market coming up. We have plans for the regional rail, roads and sharing energy. These are some of the new additions.

What can the EAC say has been the quantifiable gains out of the past two conferences?

One thing we do in these conferences is we meet a lot of investors.

Star Communications, the fellows providing digital TV, I met them in Rwanda and now they are in the four EAC countries. I am happy ours is now up and running.

KCB was able to meet all the countries at a single conference. There is a hotelier I met in Kenya who is quite advanced in putting three-star hotels around the country and he is here already.

We also learn about one another. We have experts coming in and speaking on infrastructure, public-private partnership and policy issues at EAC and government level.

As a host what will Uganda benefit?
First of all we are bringing our hotel industry about 1,500 guests, which is a big plus.

But these are not just guests, they are investors.

Getting investors to see Uganda is one of the most difficult things for us as an investment promotion agency. We have people who ask questions like where will I sleep, is there food?

So to bring them here and they see the beautiful Munyonyo is a step forward. I think the most interesting thing about Uganda is that people do not sleep.

The night life is terrific, at 11 pm, Abaita ababiri (Entebbe Road) is booming. We are also providing them with tourism opportunities to go and visit the gorillas and other national parks.

What are the criteria for winning the EA investor of the year award?

This year we have not had enough time to study the companies thoroughly so we are just looking at companies that do businesses regionally.

It is an advantage if the firm has invested in more than one EA country. If you have invested in all five, you have an added advantage.

Then we look at companies that export within the region and outside the region and how the companies stand in the community.

Any lessons learned from the last conference?

Yes, we used to bring the heads of state at the beginning but they require a lot of attention and, therefore, we don’t focus on investors. So this time they are coming in at the end, apart from the host President who will open the conference.

The last conference was in Nairobi and the venue was a bit small. All the Kenyans wanted to attend. Here we have a nice big room where we shall fit 2,000 people at Speke Resort Munyonyo. We have also tried to get the invitations in earlier.

Ever since the UIA was incorporated, how much investment value has it attracted?

As an agency we have licensed about 5,000 projects. The ones that came recently are in the process of setting up but the older ones are running.

That translates to how many jobs?
The accumulated planned investment is about $12b.

The jobs are 440,000. For each job in a company, there are at least eight other job linkages either as suppliers, farmers, raw materials, transport or packaging.

What is the difference between planned and actual investments?

Planned investment is what investors target when they are coming here.

For some of them the plan goes completely out of hand when they reach here. A good example is MTN. We had them licensed with $20m.

Now they are well over $600m. Then there are those that do not find the market good so they abandon the market. You remember AES power for various reasons was not able to take off.

How far have plans gone in promoting the region as a single destination?
Actually for investment we started long time ago.

We formed the association of investment agencies of East Africa in 2001. We have since developed a guide for the countries.

The private sector look at it suspiciously as competition or that people will take their market but for us it is very clear that investors want a big market.

Since the EAC put in place a secretariat we now have an office since about four years ago and the first thing we did was to launch the EA investment conference.

As a country, how are we positioning to sell the country and its diversity?
We have an exhibition. We have about 20 square meters for each country.

We have UWA and UTB and UEPB plus a number of our private companies. Even within the presentations we have discussions on mining, tourism and we are updating the tourism videos.

Most of the investments are located in central, how are you going to change this to see that this spreads out?

That was the truth a few years ago because the infrastructure and the markets were here.

But I am happy to report that that is changing. We have in place UIA district focal point officers in all the districts and they have worked on what the districts have to offer.

It is very difficult to promote somebody who is negative about themselves, we have this problem with Jinja which improves slightly and then goes down to zero.

We are putting up 22 economic zones.
We have a couple of successes, last week we launched Mount Meru in Lira (contract farming for sunflower) where there is Mukwano and the shea nut butter project.

What is the status of Namanve?
Namanve is ready.

We have allocated land to 230 investors. In the logistics park we have about 70 companies so in total we have about 300 companies.

Since the last competitive report was released, what changes have you made?

We are working on the registration of companies and we have a World Bank funded project.

We have got a new board, but the legislation is still slow. It is a huge problem and it will not go overnight.

Temporarily for us, we have a one stop shop. The financial sector is booming.
We have the best labour laws, we are number 11 in the world.

Talking about commercial laws, the investment code was supposed to be amended, how far have you gone with the process?

We have worked on it and it has passed through cabinet. But it has to be pushed further through Parliament. It is now in the Ministry of Finance.

We need to update 44 commercial laws that are in the pipeline. We have managed to pass about five.

But even the ones we have passed, the regulation is not in place and it does not help to have a modern law but it cannot be regulated. That is an area where we have been very weak in.

What challenges do you face in promoting investment?

Infrastructure, access to finance, lack of land and the bureaucracy within government, these are the key ones.

The old laws do not allow for efficiency. For immigration as an example, the board has got to sit to issue a work permit, now how often does a board sit? This means I have to wait for my work permit.

There is lack of understanding of the private sector within government. They are slow, speed is not of essence meanwhile the investor is losing money.

Ends

Kenya: Families sent fleeing their homes as landslide hit Rachuonyo South district

Reports Leo Odera Omolo, In Kisumu City.

SCORES of people were rendered homeless following a major landslide which erupted at Got Ranyinya in West Kamagak Location,in Oyugis Division Rachuonyo South district.

The crack occurred following incessant heavy down pour which had pounded the area for the last forty eight hours. Villagers were left in a great panick fearing more landslides. More rains were expected last night.

The landslide destroyed close to 40 acres of food crops. It caused cracks in close to 50 houses forcing the villagers to flee their homes. On the top of the small Got Ranyinya hills, there were deep cracks forming gullies, some of which are as deep as 30 feet.

The area District Commissioner Mr. Jophn Ole Kepas, appealed to the resident and those living in the nearby villages to move to much safer areas. He said his office has already been in contact with the Ministry of Special Programmes and asked them to come to the rescue of the families, which were forced out of their homes.

Some of the villagers told this writer that they were contemplating renting houses at the nearby small Uhuru Market. But they really don’t have money for paying rents. Most of the occupants of the close to 30 houses destroyed have moved out and were reported taking shelters with relatives and friends in the nearby villages.

The villagers said they experienced the first major land slide in the area, which occurred in 1998 during the El-Nino rains. The government had promised to look for the alternative land, but so far nothing has been done. The situation, they said is life threatening. The whole hill has been tilted and standing hanging conspicuously in the air as if it is just about to sink into the underground. The is a sad experience never witnessed before, they said.

The area, which has two permanent water sources, Soko Kodhungo and Soko Komiti, suffered a landslide in 1998. But the latest occurrence has sent villagers panicking as far as three kilometers away.

The inhabitants of the area, most of them members of the Kachieng’, Konyango and Wasweta sub-clans, said they have nowhere to go. Though the incident is a natural calamity, they would like the government to provide for them an alternative land to settle them once and for all.

“The landslide caused big cracks all over the Hill as you can see, but some of us have nowhere to go. There is nothing we can do, and we only hope that our government this time around will do something in our favor, said one resident. The villagers, however, expressed their appreciation to the area DC, Mr Ole Kepas, for his prompt response to their appeal for assistance.

Some of the affected families have moved to markets places like in Oyugis Town and Ober Market. Others moved to the shopping centre at Gamba (Rioma Market) for their safety.

ENDS

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

Kenya and Uganda: Ugandan government has refuted Kenya Foreign Minister Wetangula’s story on Migingo

Writes Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City.

Kenya’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Moses Wetangula, last week treated his countrymen to one of the worse hoaxes ever witnessed in the recent past.

The Minister on Wednesday last week made an impromptu announcement while speaking in the Western Kenya Town of Kakamega to the effect that the dispute between Kenya and Uganda over the tiny and rocky one acre fishing Migingo Island has been resolved amicably.

The announcement caused the over 2000 Kenyan fishermen, fish traders and kiosk owners there, to go into ecstasy of beer drinking sprees, dances, and all sort of celebrations.

As all the celebration was going for the whole day and night, the more than 30 Uganda marine police men posted to the island to provide security, and an official from the Uganda Revenue Authority, watched in disbelief.

On Friday last week, the first reaction of the Ugandan government left Kenyan fishermen and residents of the island not only puzzled but in a state of shock.

Kampala for the first time reacted to Minister Wetangula’s premature announcement and made it publicly clear that there was no such agreement.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ugandan Foreign Affairs Ministry, James Mugume, asserted that perhaps the Kenyan Minister was misquoted by the local media. He told the government owned NEWVISION that the report attributed to Minister Wetangula is misleading because only last week Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila visited Uganda, and had a lengthy discussion with President Museveni over wide ranging important issues affecting the two neighboring countries.

During the visit the Ugandan authorities agree with Kenya that the survey to determine the boundaries and ownership of Migingo Island must be re-done.

“The two governments had agreed that the survey must be re-done, starting at River Sio to Llemba Islands, and going all the way to the Pyramid islands’, Mugume said. He added that the Ugandans are still waiting for their counterparts in Kenya to agree when the re-survey work would commence.

The PS said the Minister could have been misquoted by the Kenyan media. “There are many islands in Lake Victoria and quite often journalists misquote leaders when they talk of an island other than Migingo,” he said, adding that President Museven himself was once misquoted when he was talking about another island not Migingo.

Mugume’s statement was the first reaction from a senior Ugandan government official ever since Minister Wetangula made the announcement last week.

A dispute flared up in February last year when Kenyan fishermen operating in Migingo Island were kicked out by the Ugandan security personnel. URA kicked them out after refusing to pay annual fees or taxes each for their operations in what was then deemed as Ugandan territorial waters. The Ugandan Revenue authorities were asking for Kshs 50,000 for each boat owners per annum. Close to 400 Kenyan was expelled. The few Kenyan policemen stationed on the Island were disarmed and taken into custody by their Ugandan counterparts for the best part of the day, but were later released and expelled from the island. Ugandan authorities hosted their national flag on the island virtually taking over its administration control.

Kenyan authorities protested and sent several high level ministerial delegations to Kampala in vain attempts to have the matter resolved diplomatically. It was deemed as threatening to the East African integration under the auspice of the East African Community {EAC}.

Ugandan authorities proposed that the matter be resolved by a survey, using the boundaries set by the Kenya Colony and Protectorate in 1927. The two countries agree on a budget of Kshs 140 million to be shared equally for the survey work. It was later agreed that the fishermen from both sides of the disputed boundaries be allowed to continue conducting business until the boundary issue was resolved by the joint team of surveyor from both countries.

It was further agreed that Uganda withdrew 48 marine police officers it had deployed and stationed on the Island. It was further agreed that the Ugandan national flag be pulled down while the exercise of survey work is going on.

Presidents Mwai Kibaki and President Yoweri Museveni agree that the matter be resolved amicably and peacefully.

Wetangula statement came in the wake of a claim made by a British researcher John Donaldson of the UK based Boundaries Research Unit, which made it quite clear that Migingo is in Kenya.

Ugandan security personnel, previously numbering about 22, but who have of late been beefed up to 32. They remained non-committal, saying they were not about to leave unless they received order and instructions from their superiors in Kampala.

The Friday news came after an incident in which two Kenyan fishermen were thrown into the lake by their Ugandan counterparts for unclear reasons raising tensions on the island.

Ends

leooderaoimolo@yahoo.com

EAST AFRICA COMMUNITY, PRESS RELEASE: EAC PARTNER STATES INTER-STATE SECURITY AGENCIES’ MEETING OPENS IN BURUNDI WITH VERY HIGH TURN OUT

From: Aileen Mallya (forwarded by Leo Odera Omolo)

Date: Wednesday, April 14, 2010, 3:17 AM

Meeting to consider progress reports on conclusions of the EAC Peace and Security Protocol and the EAC Early Warning Mechanism, among others

Bujumbura, Burundi, 14 April 2010:

The third meeting of the East African Community (EAC) Inter-State Security Council opened yesterday in Bujumbura , Burundi , drawing more than 70 delegates from the Partner States Ministries in charge of Internal Affairs, Defence, Disaster Management, Immigration, Police, Prisons, Intelligence and Disarmament.

The officials will be joined by their Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Inspectors of Police ,Commissioners of Prisons and Chiefs of CID among others. The full meeting will be held on Friday, 16th April, 2010.

At the conclusion of the Sectoral Council the EAC will hold on 17th April an exercise of public destruction of illicit arms, an event to mark the African Union (AU) Year of Peace.

Opening the meeting, the EAC Deputy Secretary General (Political Federation) Hon. Beatrice Kiraso, said that the?meeting?would,?among?others,?review?progress?in?implementation?of?decisions?taken?at?its?second?meeting in Arusha last year;?consider?progress reports on conclusions of the EAC Peace and Security Protocol and the EAC Early Warning Mechanism and applauded the delegations for coming in such big numbers, welcomed those who were in Bujumbura for the first time saying that it would be an opportunity to dispel all mis-concepts people hold about the country.

“This is a post-conflict country, but we need to appreciate the great strides that have been taken to restore peace and stability and work together as a team of East Africans to pacify not only Burundi but the region. This is a very key moment in the integration process of East Africa , when we have moved to full implementation of the Customs Union, and had the Common Market Protocol signed last year, which will start its implementation on 1st of July. It means a lot for the Inter-State Security Sector and will call for more initiatives to ensure that those stages are not undermined by instability or lack of peace”, Hon Kiraso told the senior officials and experts.

The EAC programme on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) has seen the destruction of more than 10,000 weapons in the five countries.

“This cannot be a one-off exercise because our region has porous borders, with conflict countries surrounding us in all corners. Being security agencies, you know how much havoc one fire arm can do, but we have in the region tens of thousands and they continue to come in”. Hon. Kiraso said.

The destruction exercise will be presided over by H.E. Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza, and will be attended by ministers, senior officials, representatives from the European Union, AU and United Nations as well as members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Burundi .

The meeting will review progress of implementation of previous decisions, consider progress of conclusion of the Protocol for Peace and Security, Framework for Conflict Prevention Management and Resolution and the EAC Early Warning Mechanism.

The delegates will also receive reports of meetings of CID, Registrars of Motor Vehicles, and Prisons / Correctional Services which were held earlier this year.

Previous decisions include specific activities in the areas of?human?trafficking, drugs,?harmonization?of?Police?rankings and?the?proliferation?of?SALW?in?the?region.

Directorate of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs EAC Secretariat

Arusha

EAST AND SOUTHERN AFRICA COMMUNITY: COMESA MEMBER STATES CONVERGE IN CAIRO FOR A CRUCIAL MEETING TO SWAP INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES.

Business News by Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa States converged in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, this week with more than 500 industry leaders, international investors and Ministers from more than 19 African countries.

There is weigh to emerging opportunities and challenges for doing business among member states.

The Comesa Investment Forum, whose primary aim will be to identify and assess the investment opportunities and implications associated with doing business in East and Southern Africa, will seek among other things, to encourage investment in these regions by addressing issues that are critical for dong business and define action-oriented strategies to mitigate risks facing it.

According to a note posted from the office of the Comesa Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya In Lusaka, Zambia, “the business landscape in Africa is continuously undergoing change, and the Comesa region, as a vibrant emerging investment destination, is the least understood market, where information is generally scarce or even stale.”

“It is this that the investment summit will intend to address, specifically the opportunities on offer.”

Mr Ngwenya message says “the Comesa region and Africa in general could be the last frontier for development since the continent will soon be driving the world’s economic expansion.”

He cites the expanding level of consumption and per capital income as some of the drivers of growth.

With a population of more than 430 as at 2008 and annual import bill of USD 152 billion and an annual export bill of over USD 157 billion, Comesa forms a major marketplace for both internal and external trading.

Research and studies shows by 2015, Comesa which is Africa’s largest economic community will be commanding a market size of over 500 million customers.

Despite the squeeze on world economies last year, it grew by an average of five per cent, way above the world average of one per cent. For the past 10 years, though, the region’s economy has been between six and seven per cent, a clear indication that the fundamentals are on track.

A year ago, a conference on the North-South Corridor was held in Lusaka where more than USD 2.5 billion was raised to finance road and energy projects.

Currently, studies are being carried out on the establishment of the Central Corridor that will run through Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Eastern Congo. The Northern Corridor is expected to cover Djibouti, and Addis Ababa. Only last month, Comesa and the European Comission, during a meeting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, committed more than USD 23 million to support the region’s infrastructure.

The Cairo forum comes amid reports that Comesa is inching closer towards unified trade regulations with the South African Development Community {SADC}, a development that will see the creation of a free trade area.

The Egypt event is specifically designed to promote dialogue and action between investors, business leaders and senior policy makers to create the necessary framework and drive investment opportunities and growth in Comesa region and Africa as a whole.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

EAST AFRICA COMMUNITY: PRESIDENT PAUL KAGAME ADDRESSES MEMBERS OF THE EAST AFRICAN LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY IN KIGALI

Report By LeoOdera Omolo·

The Fourth Meeting, Third Session of the Second East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) officially kicked off yesterday, Tuesday, 14th April 2010, at the Parliament Chambers of the National Assembly of Rwanda with a call by H.E Paul Kagame to have the Customs Union fully implemented before the Common Market Protocol comes into effect.

In his keynote speech to the EALA Assembly meeting under the leadership of the Rt. Hon Abdirahin Abdi, the President focused on EALA’s outstanding role in the prompt realisation of the Common Market putting a lot of emphasis on the key role of the EALA in areas of representation, oversight, and legislation as main essentials in the full implementation of the Common Market Protocol.

Representative

In lobbying the EALA Members to support the Common market, the President downplayed the fears that the prospect of the free movement of labour, goods, services and capital, and the right for East Africans to live in any part of the Community, has produced. “Educate the people of East Africa about its merits and benefits. In order to dispel lingering perceptions that may be false” he said.

Oversight

The President called for the EALA to ensure that the Common Market is properly implemented according to the law signed by all Member States, saying he regretted the slow removal of trade barriers noting that there was now urgent need for the quick implementation of relevant Council and Summit resolutions. “ we do not have much time left before the Common Market comes into force,” he said.

The President called for urgent infrastructure development projects in the transport sector and Information technology which he noted are critical for a fully functional Common Market.

The President urged the EALA Members to ensure that these projects are effectively implemented, “and as you examine the East African Community budget, I urge you to consider these projects seriously” he said.

The President said he was pleased with the EALA’s efforts to develop the draft East African Election Observation Manual and confirmed that it will “establish common standards to enhance the credibility and legitimacy of our electoral outcomes and should further strengthen our democracies,” he said.

The President asserted that, “…more East Africans are recognizing that widening and deepening our ties will not only enable increased trade and business for everyone’s benefit, it will also facilitate increased educational and cultural exchanges among the EAC people.”

“The test of our success”, the head of State affirmed, “in the Integration process will ultimately be the improvement of the well fair of our East African Citizens”

Legislative

The President encouraged the EALA to continue enacting laws that facilitate the proper functioning of all organs of the East African Community, particularly those that facilitate effective implementation of the Common Market. “I have no doubt that you will debate the bills during this session with the usual candour and wisdom, “he said

“It is gratifying to learn that one of the items tabled for discussion will look at how to continue rebuilding unity in Rwanda following the Genocide – we look forward to your insights and recommendations,” he said.

In his Concluding remarks the President encourage the EALA to work together in removing existing impediments to the region’s integration and the socio-economic transformation of its people.

Speaking earlier on during his welcoming speech to the President, the Speaker of EALA, Rt. Hon Abdirahin Abdi commended President Kagame and his government’s positive development and policies that have brought about peace and security to the Nation.

The Speaker took the opportunity to affirm to the People of Rwanda that the Assembly was in Rwanda to “express its anguish, and boundless grief for those who lost their life’s and at the same time to express our solidarity and shared determination to learn from and never to repeat the lessons of past failures.

He hailed the President and his government “for the positive developments and policies that you have adopted to put the past behind and seek reconciliation and a new future full of hope, unity and determination.”

The EALA Speaker finally thanked Rwanda for the timely payment of her EAC Membership dues noting “ Rwanda was able to pay up all her dues within the first half of the financial year, an act highly commended and appreciated”.

EALA pays tribute to Genocide victims

Meanwhile the EALA Members together with the Rwandan lawmakers in honor of the victims of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi on Monday, 12 April 2010 held a Seminar that focused on discussions around the theme, “16 Years after the Genocide perpetrated against Tutsis and handling its Consequences”.

Also in Attendance were Members of the Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations, Gacaca, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), the Prosecutor General and sitting judges of the East African Court of justice from Rwanda .

The Members later on Tuesday,13 April 2010 visited the Rebero Memorial Site in Kicukiro district for the closing ceremony of the one week long commemoration ceremony held in remembrance of the politicians who were killed during the Genocide.

The President later on his address to the EALA appreciated EALA’s presence in Kigali during the 16th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsis who perished in Rwanda in 1994.

Background

This is the Second time that the EALA is meeting in Rwanda since the Membership of the Community expanded with the admission of two sister Republics of Burundi and Rwanda in July 2007.

The MPs from the two Partner States took oath as MPs in May 2008 and have since then continued to make their valuable contribution to the EAC integration agenda. The EALA comprises of a total of 52 Members, 45 elected Members (9 from each Partner State ) and 7 Ex-Officio Members comprising five Ministers or Deputies Ministers responsible for EAC affairs, the Secretary General of the Community and the Counsel to the Community.

As the for the regions legislature, the EALA prides itself for consolidating the gains it has collectively achieved as a region; and it is important to note that the laws passed by the EALA are binding on the EAC Partner States.

All laws enacted by EALA have the full force of law and take precedence over similar laws in the Partner States on matters related to the Community. In addition to passing legislation, the Assembly has adopted several resolutions and reports relating to the developments in the Community including in the Partner States

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

Arusha , Tanzania

EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY: REPORTS SAY NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION FOR THE NEW ECONOMIC TIES HAS REACHED A DEAD END.

Writes Leo Odera Omolo

REPORTS emerging from the East African Community {EAC}, indicating it is close to signing an Economic Partnership agreement {EPA} with the European Union, may be a mirage.

Sources, close to the high level negotiations that took place in Brussels recently, indicate that although most of the contentious clauses have been agreed upon, hopes that the trade Ministers would meet the EU Trade Commissioner this month for the final leg have been dashed after the schedule meeting was pushed to May this year.

“THE European Commission has new office bearers. They are reported to have requested more time to familiarize themselves with the technical issues surrounding the EPA negotiations. This means we have to wait longer”, said a member of the team who requested anonymity. He added, “we are just going back to the drawing board.”

The spokesman explained that it was unlikely that the negotiations could be concluded this year, considering that most regional governments are also going into elections.

Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya CEO Stephen Mbithi, who is a member of the EAC negotiation team, was recently quoted by the EASTAFRICAN as saying the parties have agreed on an EAC-EPA Development Matrix, and were discussing whether it could be annexed or made part of the agreement.

The EU opposes the agreement being legally binding.  They argue that the EU has other channels through which it funds development in the EAC regions.

Mbithyi further stated that the most Favored Nations clause, too, needs to be redefined so that EAC is not forced out of the EU when it can get the same items from other regions, notably China at cheaper costs.

“We have no problems with a MFN clause as long as it allows us to buy from Europe only at competitive prices“, said Mbithi.

Former Tanzania President Benjamin William Mkapa had no kind words for EPA when he addressed the Pan African Media Conference organized by the Nation Media Group as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations a fortnight ago.

Mkapa says partnership was a stumbling block to the growth of the continent’s regional trading blocs which he said should be strengthened

“There are the institutions that will rid the continent of its dependence on donor aid. But our joining EPAs is practically  embracing efforts against African quest for unity,” Mkapa said.

Mkapa had reasoned that the European Union had taken too long to get to its current status and that Africa cannot pretend that it can trade at par with the EU.

Kenya’s Permanent Secretary to the EAC, David Nalo, said that the unlikely event that a comprehensive agreement is not signed in June, “it would most likely come before December this year.”

He said the parties from both sides of the divide had agreed to continue trading under the interim Framework for Economic Partnership Agreement [FEPA} that expired in July last year.

Efforts to get a comment from the Ministry of Trade in Kenya were fruitless.  An official said they did not wish to talk to the media.  Yet the country negotiations are conducted under it.

Nalo, however, refuted recent media reports that Kenya had indicated an intention to go it alone, saying that the regional market was bigger for Kenya.

“Kenya is the largest exporter to both the EAC and the Common Market among East and Southern African states. Therefore, it is safer for us to negotiate as a bloc,” Nalo said, adding that the country’s largest exports to the EU, notably horticulture produce, had come under increasing threat from emerging suppliers such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and northern Africa, creating the need to grow regional outlets that offer a larger market for a variety of products.

With the coming into force of the regional Customs Union and the Common Market, it is difficult for any country to be on its own. Mr. Nalo added, emphasizing that it is easier to bulldoze one country but a different ball game to deal with a block of many nations.

The negotiations, according to reports, have now moved from the negotiators table and will be handled by trade ministers from both regions – - EAC and EU for finalization.

The negotiators found some middle ground on development support – - a key demand of African states that has stalled the talks since 2007.

Europe has reportedly agreed to finance a priority development programme in East Africa, removing a major obstacle to the conclusion of the trade talks.

FOOTNOTE:

FEPA was established in 2008 when the Cotonou Agreement ended, and a bridge to ensure that trade between the Africa Caribbean and Pacific countries is not disrupted. The parties gave themselves up to July 31,2009 to sign a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, but this deadline expired without any progress.

Since then anxiety has been mounting over what will happen if the EU revokes the arrangement. Last December, the EU gave the region an ultimatum to conclude the talks or it would revert to the less favorable Generalized System of Partnership of preferences.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

British businessmen trying to open more opportunities in the EAC regions

Business Reports by Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City

Ames-Lewis addressing journalists in Kampala last week

THE high business opportunities presented by the East African Community have excited the western world, especially the UK.

A British delegation from manufacturing and service sectors, under the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have concluded a tour of Uganda aimed at establishing new and strengthening existing trade links with the local dealers.

“The chamber brings together UK firms from the manufacturing and service sectors with products tailored for the regional market,” said the executive for world trade, Ruma Deb, during a press conference at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel.

He added that the delegation were interested in supplying waste water and water purification systems, laboratory equipment, new and used vehicles supplies, providing agricultural consultancy and supporting the oil and gas industry.

Meanwhile, the Nairobi-based British High Commission head of trade and investment, Orlando Ames-Lewis, has expressed concern about the western media’s negative reports on Africa, saying they were hindering business on the continent.

“We need to fight this negative publicity that portrays Africa as unconducive for investment. On the contrary, Africa is good for investment and trade,” he said.

Orlando added that more business people from UK were much willing to come and help East Africans in the area of value addition, a challenge hindering considerable revenue collections from the region’s exports.

The LCCI has annually been visiting East Africa for the last 25 years. It is the oldest chamber in UK and represents the business interests of nearly 4,000 small and large companies in the Midlands region.

Ends

EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY MEMBER STATES TO ADOPT ONE SINGLE ENTRY VISA TO THEIR NATIONAL GAME PARKS.

EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY MEMBER STATES TO ADOPT ONE SINGLE ENTRY VISA TO THEIR NATIONAL GAME PARKS.

Reports Leo Odera Omolo

Residents of the East African Community {EAC] will be required to pay the same fees as Tanzanians to enter the country’s national parks.

A note recently sent to game park managers by Tanzania National Parks Authority spokesman, Pascal Shelutete, reads as follows; ‘This is to inform you that nationals of Rwanda and Burundi are to be charged preferential rates just like those of Kenya and Uganda.

“Thus arrangement is in line with the EAC plans to promote the region as a single tourism destination,” adds the note.

This mean EAC residents will now pay Tshs 1,500 [about USD 1 for adults]and Tshs 500 { about 35 cents USD} for children visiting any national parks in Tanzania per day.

Analysts believe the uniform directive is timely and will boost the industry in the EAC Common Market with nearly 130 million consumers and combined GDP of nearly USD 60 billion.

In 2006, each of the three founding EAC partner states of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda were charging different figures for non-citizen tourists. In Uganda, the entrance fees for EAC citizens to any of the country’s national game parks was USD 10 per day, while Ugandans were charged Ushs 5,000 {about USD 2.5}.

In Tanzania, the entry fees to Mount Kilimanjaro and Serengeti for foreign tourists and EAC residents was USD 60 and USD 50 respectably. In Kenya, the average charge fee for non-citizens was set at USD 30 per adult and USD 19 per student or child per day.

At the same time, sources at the EAC secretariat in Arusha say a task force appointed to study the region’s preparedness for a single tourist visa will present its report in June this year.

“The partner states are still consulting on the matter with the possibility of a trial visa to be introduced first, as they try to harmonize their tourism policies and laws,” a source explained.

The secretariat is reported to have approached the partner states, seeking information from the immigration departments on visa regulations and statistics from major tourism market countries.

Sources added that there was a likelihood of starting with a trial single visa in June this year, to determine whether East Africa is ready to introduce a single tourist visa for the region.

Experts working on the matter want visitor’s statistics for the sample countries that will participate in the suggested trial visa before the actual document is introduced.

The major source market for tourists coming to East Africa are the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, South Africa and Scandinavian countries.

Also sought for is information on information and communication technology {ICT} system used by the partner states to network with various centers such as border points and embassies.

In recent past, tourism players based in Arusha were said to have faulted the EAC governments for delaying the single visa tourism entry visa for the region.

Tourists visiting the region often spend hours crossing from one EAC state to another because they use different visa for each country.

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leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

EAC member states are developing new policy on food security and climate change

EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY MEMBER STATES ARE IN THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING A COMMON POLICY ON FOOD SECURITY.

Writes Leo Odera Omolo

The East African Community [EAC} is developing a common policy strategy to address food security and climate change.

The strategy will be embodied in two policy documents –Food security Action Plan and Climate Change Policy- that will be presented to the heads of state at a special summit later this month in Arusha.

Already the drafts have been ratified by the East African Legislative Assembly and were reviewed at the recently held sartorial Council of Ministers for Lake Victoria Basin and the multispectral meeting on food security and climate change in Kisumu City.

The documents has now been passed to the partner states of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi for review and eventual forwarding to the EAC Secretariat for consolidation as they await ratification.

This joint approach comes as the individual countries in the region grapples with a gloomy outlook on food. A huge deficit arising successive poor yield in the past coupled with poor handling of harvest the bumper recorded last year threaten food security.

The East African region has suffered agricultural output due to among other things, erratic weather caused by climate change and ineffective national policies.

Concerted efforts by countries to seek outside assistance have been thwarted by restrictive national policies that hinder cross-border trade in food commodities. These are some of the issues that will be addressed by the new draft policies.

The policy targets the enhancement of free movement of food commodity within the region, increased productivity and formulation of tolerable policies and programmes. If ratified and implemented effectively, efforts will be focused towards eliminating non-tariff barriers, strengthening postharvest management and approving agricultural production.

The representation of the climate change policy is based on EAC Treaty, the EAC Protocol on environment and natural resources, the protocol on sustainable development of Lake Victoria Basin as well as the national framework convention on climate change among others.

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leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

EAST African Community: SWEDISH FIRM WINS MULTI MILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT FOR STUDIES ON POWER SHORTAGES

SWEDISH FIRM WINS A MULTIMILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT TO STUDY THE FUTURE OF ELECTRICTY INTERCONNECTIONS, TRANSMISSIONS AND SUPPLIES IN EAST AFRICA.

Business News By Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City.

SWECO, a Swedish. Multinational company has won euro 1,227,000 {about Ushs 4 billion} to conduct a feasibility study on the potential and proposals for the interconnection of electricity between Uganda and Tanzania.

The deal, according to Radio Uganda monitored here, is aimed at reducing the power shortage in the region, and is being carried out on behalf of the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company limited{UETCL}.

An impeccable source in Kampala, says the project would help the expansion plan for power generation and transmission system of Kenya,Tanzania and Uganda.

Sweco will also carry out a study to establish the existing and committed generation and transmission system, and determine the least cost of expanding the power system to meet the demand growth of the three countries. It will further be required to strengthen the interconnection links where it is appropriate.

This will entail studying load forecasting, assessment of hydropower/geothermal resources, develop supply reliability or criteria, examine interconnections, look for alternatives, identify transmission corridor, system analyses, least extension and economic analysis.

The head of the UETCL, Erias Kiyemba, confirmed the deal over the weekend. Experts, however, argue that by interconnecting the power grids around Lake Victoria, it is possible to reduce the shortage and ensure a more stable electricity supply in the region.

According to other reports, Sweco is already involved in similar assignments and contracts in other African countries, which included Botswana, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola and Tanzania.

“Over the past 50 years, Sweco has worked in many African countries to improve access to electricity in urban and rural areas,” Sweco president, Eva Nygren said.

“There is still a serious lack of electricity in the East African region, a problem that is creating obstacles for commercial and industrial development and progress”, he added.

According to the existing East African Power Master Plan, the interconnection of the electricity power lines will create two rings, one around Lake Victoria that will link Tanzania ,Kenya ,Uganda and Rwanda. Another interconnection power line will be around Lake Kivu and Edwards and will also link DR Congo, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Among the schemes approved are 249km interconnection that will carry 270kv between eastern Uganda town of Jinja and Lessos in the North Rift region of Kenya. The other is the 220kv, Mbarara{Uganda} to Birembe {Rwanda} interconnection, which is 172km apart.

The East African region is currently characterized by very high power prices, insufficient and unreliable supply of power, and very low rate of electricification.

Ends
leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

East African Community: New fisheries research boats for Kenya and Uganda to boost Lake Victoria studies

TWO NEW BOATS TO BE DEPLOYED IN LAKE VICTORIA BY KENYA,UGANDA AND TANZANIA TO
BOOST FISHERIES STUDIES

Fisheries News By Leo Odera Omolo in Kisumu City.

RESEARCH program project being carried out by the three members of the East African Communities, namely Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda has received three new boats valued at USD 2 million.

The three ultra-modern vessels fitted with sophisticated research gadgets will aid scientific fisheries studies in the lake.
Under the European Union-funded Fisheries Management Plan, the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute and Uganda’s National Fisheries Research Institute will each receive a new research boat fitted with an in-built laboratory, with the ability to determine fish populations, as well as the quality of waters in the Lake. The two vessels will cost USD 1.9 million.

Tanzania Fisheries Research institute will have a research vessel that it already owns refurbished and fitted with the latest equipment to improve its research capabilities. This includes fitting it with a new engine at a cost of USD 102,682.

The fisheries plan has been implemented through the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization, over the past seven years.

The project manager, Samson Abura, said the new vessels are expected to cut down on the cost and time on studies.

The three vessels also play a major role in the management of Lake Victoria as they have modern equipment for assessing fish stocks. The lake is currently grappling with dwindling fish stocks, precipitated by intense fishing pressure, as well as infiltration of illegal and destructive fishing practices, such as the increased use of unauthorized fishing nets.

The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute assistant director in charge of inland waters, Dr. Richard Abila, said that the new vessel is fitted with echo-sounders that will aid hydro-acoustic surveys that determine the quantity and distribution of fish in the lake. The surveys are conducted quarterly.

Dr. Abila explained that the equipment functions using sound waves that are sent into the water and a signal recorded when fish is detected. Scientists conduct three surveys in a year to give a representation of the fish population trends.
The research boats also have advanced facilities for analyising water quality.

Now researchers going on expeditions in the lake no longer have to carry equipment with them, nor do they have to carry samples back to laboratories as they can analyze them on board.

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