President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State Summit for the 18th time on Wednesday.
Presidents Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (Uganda), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), and Samia Suluhu Hassan (Rwanda) attended the virtual Summit (Tanzania).
Vice President Prosper Bazombaza of Burundi and EAC Minister Deng Alor of South Sudan respectively represented Presidents Évariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi and Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan.
President Kenyatta, who is also the Summit’s current Chairperson, emphasized the importance of the EAC integration process in his opening remarks, saying the community provides a powerful foundation for regional socioeconomic reform.
“…I reaffirm the Summit’s commitment to the EAC’s integration process. President Kenyatta stated, “We are certain that this is an effective vehicle for the economic progress and prosperity of the people of East Africa.”
The Summit considered, among other things, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) application to join the EAC and asked the council of ministers to send a verification mission to the nation as soon as possible and report back to the 22nd Summit, which is slated for next year.
While President Kenyatta expressed pleasure with the progress achieved toward greater regional cohesion and shared prosperity, he urged all member states to keep the EAC agenda as a top priority.
“It is noteworthy that work on the four pillars of EAC integration, namely the customs union, the common market, the monetary union, and finally the political federation, is progressing well,” President Kenyatta said.
He believes the DRC’s interest in joining the EAC demonstrates the EAC’s accomplishments and the prospects that remain untapped.
President Kenyatta remarked, “This is also a confirmation of our efforts to deepen integration and broaden collaboration, as aptly captured by the summit’s theme.”
Presidents Museveni, Kagame, and Suluhu Hassan praised President Kenyatta for hosting the virtual meeting and welcomed DRC’s indication of interest in joining the EAC in their comments.
The EAC Council of Ministers was urged by the Heads of State to speed up the process of admitting DRC to the community.
Kenya’s EAC and Regional Development CS Adan Mohamed and the community’s Secretary-General Dr Peter Mutuku Mathuki were among the other speakers at the virtual Summit.