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Monday, 30 November 2015 11:55

Germany Backs EAC With U.S.$226 Million Grant

By Elisha Mayallah

ARUSHA, Tanzania, November 30, 2015 (EAB Week) — The Federal Republic of Germany has given the East African Community (EAC) 213 million euro, (about $226,462,000) in grants for the regional integration programmes.

"Integration is not a fair weather project. Germany would not be where it is today without economic cooperation with the rest of Europe. I can say that the 60 years of European cooperation have been a success story," Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German Foreign Affairs Minister said last week.

Dr. Steinmeier, said the money had been invested in education, health and infrastructure projects, among other sectors. In addition, he said their country would continue its support for the EAC which he said was on the right track in terms of economic and political integration.

In his remarks, the EAC Secretary General, Smb. Richard Sezibera thanked Germany for its generous assistance which had enabled the EAC to record significant successes, including the realization of the Customs Union, Common Market and commitments to support the attainment of the East African Monetary Union.

Dr. Sezibera disclosed that intra-EAC trade had grown from 10% a few years ago to more than 26% at the moment.

The Secretary General said EAC was deeply interested in penetrating the German market, which he described as large and vibrant, adding that the region also wanted to benefit from technology transfer from Europe's largest economy.

On economic growth and efforts to address poverty, Dr. Sezibera said the priority for the EAC in terms of employment was to rethink training in the region.

"Our focus is on vocational training and whether entrants into the job market have the right skills. We are also involving our agro-processing industries on how to expand manufacturing to a level that can create more jobs," said the Secretary General.

Dr. Steinmeier, who visited the EAC headquarters in Arusha, said there was no global blueprint for regional integration, adding that the European Union (EU) was currently grappling with the refugee crisis brought about by the conflict in Syria and the Greek financial crisis.

The Minister said it was up to the EAC Partner States to prioritize the areas of cooperation amongst them. He said Germany was keen on increasing its cooperation with the EAC especially in areas such as vocational training, education and technology transfer.

According to an EAC statement, Dr. Steinmeier suggested the African Union and the EAC to expedite resolving the ongoing conflict in Burundi to prevent a spillover effect into neighbouring states.

He expressed hope that the views and concerns of all parties in the Burundian conflict including the diaspora would be incorporated in the peace talks.

On economic growth in Africa and the EAC, Dr. Steinmeier said it was disturbing that the perceived benefits from encouraging economic growth figures were not trickling down to the majority of the population especially those who live in the rural areas in terms of employment opportunities and poverty reduction. (END)

 

 
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