Local governments key to East Africa integration
The Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), Dr Richard Sezibera has said the local government system will be crucial to the integration process.
“Local governments offer critical support by encouraging local ownership of the integration process by explaining its implications to the local people,” he stated.
He made the remarks during the opening of the 7th Commonwealth Local Governments Conference in Kampala on Wednesday.
Sezibera hailed the renewed commitment by EAC member states to entrench the system and dispelled the fear that decentralisation was a form of balkanization.
He urged EAC member states to be champions of regional integration, arguing that it would help transform the region to middle income faster.
“Transforming to a middle income status in the next few decades is possible, but this will not be achieved through dreams. We must work harder and smarter,” he stated.
Sezibera noted that East African countries need to ensure their economies are active day and night, in order to catch up with the developed world.
“A significant number of our people close for business at night. Roads are empty, shops are closed and banks are barricaded. East African nights are calm. We cannot develop faster with this mindset,” he said.
He advised member states to put in place only competent and credible leaders in positions of power in order for the local government system to be successful.
He urged states to remove barriers to trade and allow the free movement of capital, labour and services across the region.
He also advised the states to invest in women, noting that if East Africa’s 70 million women and girls were productive would translate into a $320b economy.
“Investing in women is not an act of altruism. Making women productive is of great benefit to the region,” he said.