January 21, 2018
By Joe Lihundi, The Tranquility News reporter, Arusha
The East African Community (EAC) heads of state will meet in Kampala, Uganda, for three days next month to, among other things, deliberate on financial bottlenecks inhibiting infrastructure and health projects in the region.
The 19th EAC Summit slated for February 23, 2018, will be preceded by the 4th Joint EAC Heads of State Retreat on Infrastructure and Health Financing and Development on February 21-22, 2019, at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala.
The joint Heads of State Retreat aims at fast tracking the EAC Development Strategy, African Union Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals in the infrastructure and health sectors in the EAC.
“We are in final preparations for the Joint EAC Heads of State Retreat on Infrastructure and Health Financing and Development,” Mr Owora Othieno, the Head of the EAC Corporate Communications and Public Relations, says in a statement.
The theme of the Joint Heads of State Retreat will be Deepening and Widening Regional Integration through Infrastructure and Health Sector Development in the EAC partner states.
The retreat is expected to attract about 700 participants, including local and international exhibitors, ministers, permanent secretaries and senior officials from government institutions and agencies.
Also in attendance will be high-level guests from the AU, heads of state from COMESA, EAC and SADC; ECOWAS, IGAD and sub-regional organisations.
The retreat is expected to harness political support for regional flagship projects, funding commitments, and public-private partnerships arrangements.
It will be preceded by infrastructure and health sector investors and donors’ round-tables on the same day as well as the Ministerial Session of the 36th Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers and the Ministerial Session of the 35th Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the council.
The donor round tables will review progress of implementation of previously prioritised infrastructure and health projects and deliberate on investment opportunities and funds mobilisation strategies for quicker delivery of the projects.
International players in the infrastructure and health sectors will showcase new products and services as well as exhibit latest advances in research and innovation through the retreat programme.
They will include pharmaceutical and medical technologies manufacturers and dealers, health insurance providers, regional centres of excellence for healthcare and network of reference laboratories.
Others will be alternative medicine producers; contractors in infrastructure such as ports, railways, airlines, oil and gas; investment banks; telecommunication companies and civil society organisations.
The joint retreat will be held when the region’s 10-year infrastructure priorities agreed upon during the 3rd Heads of State Retreat held on November 29, 2014, in Nairobi, Kenya, are at an implementation stage.
The heads of state’s task will be to review the status of the priority projects and give relevant policy directives, mobilise financing and address challenges observed at the 3rd retreat.
Key priority projects the heads of state will target include in railways, ports and inland waterways, energy and roads meant for decongesting cities and enhancing logistics at the ports.
They will also receive a report on the projects and programmes of the civil aviation and airports sub-sectors and consider engaging the private sector in the development of these projects.
The head of states will find ways of enhancing collaboration with development partners, including the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the EU, JICA and the TradeMark East Africa.
Health wise, the EAC partner states are expanding the capacity for the delivery of high quality health services, training and research.
These include the regional centres of excellence (RCoE) for kidney diseases in Kenya; heart diseases in Tanzania; cancer in Uganda; e-health, biomedical engineering and health rehabilitation sciences in Rwanda; and vaccines, immunisation and health supply chain management also in Rwanda.
With support from Germany, the EAC partner states are also jointly carrying out a regional network of reference laboratories for communicable diseases.
The project aims at strengthening the region’s capacity to diagnose and respond to pathogens of biosafety levels 3 and 4 nature and other infectious diseases, which are prone to cause cross-border epidemics.
The heads of state will provide policy guidance on the region’s agenda to eliminate HIV and AIDS and preventable maternal and child deaths by 2030.
They will also advance medical tourism; strengthen pandemic preparedness and response; enhance local manufacturing of medicines and health products, and catalyze job creation through the health sector for it to effectively contribute to the socio-economic growth of the region.