East African Community (EAC) leaders have lauded the regional body for the role it has played towards improving the economies of member countries.
Regional leaders who met in Arusha on Friday for the 20th Heads of State Summit of the EAC said integration policies resulted in many achievements including the construction of several inter-country link roads, implemented a credits transfer framework for East African Universities, set up several One-Stop Border Posts as well as implemented projects in water and health provision.
At the summit, Rwanda President Paul Kagame took over as the new chairperson of the EAC from President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
While taking over the leadership of the regional body, President Kagame called on all East Africans to ensure that the community works for the common good of all the people of the region.
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He said the EAC is a people-centred institution and its success will be measured by the number of people benefiting from its programmes.
President Kagame said his focus will be to enhance manufacturing, infrastructure development, improving healthcare provision and strengthening security systems to deal with cross border security threats especially terrorism and violent extremism.
On his part, President Museveni said that the EAC has made tremendous progress towards improving regional economies.
He said the EAC has to dedicate more efforts towards reducing the cost of electricity, increasing connectivity through road and rail networks, and tackling the high cost of project financing.
EAC Secretary General Libérat Mfumukeko applauded the outgoing chairperson for his leadership and observed that as the EAC celebrates 20 years since its revival, it has made tremendous progress in the delivery of key regional projects.
Mfumukeko commended Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi for the tremendous progress they have achieved in the issuance of the East African Passport and challenged the remaining member states to fast track the process.
He urged regional governments to create more partnerships with the private sector as a key development partner. The Secretary General expressed confidence that the region will achieve its goal of having a common regional currency by 2024.
During the summit, the Heads of State appointed Lady Justice Sauda Mjasiri of Tanzania to the East African Court of Justice to replace retired judge Justice Edward Rutakangwa.