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Africa Update#1-3

 Week of 18 July, 2011 – Vol.3.1-3

COMESA

June set the stage for South Africa to host the Tripartite Council and Summit. The meeting was set to boost regional integration, and pave the way for the establishment of a Trilateral-Free Trade Agreement (T-FTA) between the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa(COMESA); and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Minister of Trade and Industry Dr.Rob Davies says that the economic potential for the T-FTA would be considerable as it combines a market of no less than 26 countries with a combined GDP of $624billion and a population of approximately 700 million people.

·         Eight COMESA countries, including the five EAC countries, are working on a plan that will see electricity shared among them.

The Regional Power Master Plan and Grid Code will cover 10 countries from the region—Burundi; DRC; Djibouti; Egypt; Ethiopia; Kenya; Rwanda; Sudan; Tanzania; and Uganda.  Forming the basis for future expansion of the power system, the Grid code will govern technical design and operation of interconnections for power exchange in the region.

SADC

Following on the heels of the March meeting in Zambia in which the Ministerial Committee of the organ on Politics, Defence and Politics (MCO) was held to discuss SADC’s role in the DRC, South Africa will assume the chair of the organ in August 2011-2012. Its role as a member of the troika will be included to collectively lead SADC in implementing its peace and security agenda, as well as to give policy direction between summits.

EAC

Rwanda is set to produce the next secretary-general of the East African Community who will steer affairs for the next five years. Rwanda’s EAC Minister, Monique Mukarulinza, who has been spearheading her country’s acceding of the post explains: “Rwanda has clearly demonstrated commitment to regional integration. We shall try to speed up the integration agenda and, of course, there is a need to partner states to support the process.” He continues that “We are ready to lead in the most efficient and transparent manner and we shall ensure that the person who will hold the post represents not only Rwanda but also partner states.”

·         A Tanzanian is set to be appointed deputy secretary of the EAC in charge of planning and infrastructure to replace Rwandan Alloys Mutabingwa.

Still in the EAC, EAC Deputy Secretary-general Beatrice Kiraso has said that if East Africa region is to see lesser conflicts, it has to embrace and address issues of good governance seriously and “attain the vision of secured, peaceful and politically-united East Africa.” She said this on the sidelines of EAC experts’ meeting seeking to finalise the draft EAC Protocol on Good Governance in May.

She added that though the draft protocol is very sensitive, the region has to apply best practices “to improve the living standards of its people and achieve the ultimate goal of political federation.”

·         As part of celebrations marking ten years of its existence, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) will organize an EALA Symposium, which is expected to be attended by over 150 participants from the political class, civil society, private sector, academia, and youth organizations.

Designed to provide space where people get together to exchange ideas on EALA’s decade-long work, which has focused on economic integration and the ultimate goal of attaining an East African political federation, the symposium has a three-fold objective.

First, it is to take stock of developments since its inception, with a view to capitalizing on outcomes of previous stages and documents specific to the integration process; secondly, to reach consensus with respect to working definitions and principles of Political Federation; finally, to “enlarge and consolidate a community of practice” among a group of selected experts in the integration process.

One of the key outcomes of the Symposium is to bring into being the establishment of an annual forum geared to enable EALA ensure it is people-centred. It further hopes to arrive at consensus “highlighting main outcomes and commonly-agreed strategies on how best to achieve a political federation

By 2012, EAC is likely to have operationalised a single tourist visa allowing for travel to any of the five East African Community partner states. EAC Council of Ministers Chairman Hafsa Mosi has told EALA that a common visa would accelerate the promotion of the region as a single tourism destination. Under the proposal, the new East African tourist visa would be issued by any partner state’s embassy abroad.

Industry watchers believe the common visa will facilitate travel arrangements for those intent on touring East African attractions. Currently, foreign tourists visiting the five-member REC are required to stamp their passports in each EAC country they visit.

·         As four EAC countries unite over the use of national identity cards as the region’s standard travel documents, Tanzania is sticking out like a sore thumb, believing that travelers should also produce passports and other relevant documents.

Director of Economic Affairs at Kenya’s Ministry of EAC said if the system is adopted, work permits and passports will be abolished.  Sidinga has said the use of IDs is part of efforts towards accelerating the integration process.

Out of the five member states, only Rwanda and Kenya use ID cards, with the former using electronic national IDs.

AFRICAN UNION/NEPAD

At the opening of the Fourth Ordinary Session of the Second Pan-African Parliament in June,  CEO of the NEPAD planning  and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki presented a report on the state of implementation of its programmes to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP).

Mayaki said “we should collectively (AU and its organs, NEPAD agency, Regional Economic Communities and national governments) focus on the implementation of approved policies, strategies and programmes.” He further called for a joint working committee between NEPAD and PAP, explaining that “as law-makers, parliamentarians are key to facilitating major national, regional and continental reforms.”

Poor communication of information about NEPAD agency initiatives was identified as one of the key factors hindering countries from benefitting from the NEPAD programmes.

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