Kigali, 01 June 2011

The newly appointed East African Community Secretary General, Dr. Richard Sezibera today met President Paul Kagame in his office at Urugwiro Village. Dr. Sezibera was accompanied by the Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community, Dr. Julius Rotich andMr. Philip Wambugu, the community’s Director of Infrastructure.

Speaking after meeting the President, Dr. Sezibera said: “We have had discussions with the President and updated him on the progress within the integration agenda of the community, we also discussed how to advance both the Customs Union which is now in place, operationalise the Common Market, complete the Monetary Union as well as different programs and projects including infrastructure. We are glad to have received the President’s views and guidance on all these matters”.

Dr. Sezibera said that he hoped that by 2012 the agreement on the protocol on the Monetary Union would have been agreed on: “Technical teams have already started negotiations and have already had a series of meetings. There was one in Mwanza and an upcoming one in Rubavu which I think will take place in a few coming months. The agenda is tight but we are on track, governors of Central Banks are involved and have just completed their meeting in Bujumbura, Ministers of Finance, as part of their pre-budget have also taken up this matter and I believe that at this momentum we will be able to keep to the timeline set by the Heads of State”.

On the Dar-es-Salaam –Isaka-Kigali -Bujumbura railway project, Dr. Sezibera said that initial studies have been completed and now the project was entering the phase of packaging the studies and completing detailed design studies before looking for funding. He said that next month the community would hold a high level meeting which will aim at unlocking any bottlenecks that will be found. “I can see that the governments of Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi have prioritized this project both at government level and at regional level. I am also anxious to see the first rails laid and old ones upgraded”.

The Minister of East African Affairs, Monique Mukaruliza said that the Secretary General’s discussions with the President dwelt on the pending projects and what needs to be prioritized, including the Customs Union, the one border post, Common Market and infrastructure projects: “The Secretary General is now seeking support from individual states because without their support, the secretariat cannot achieve anything. The new secretariat will help states to monitor implementation of decisions agreed upon at different levels because this has so far been a problem”.