he East African Community Secretary General, Hon (Dr.) Peter Mathuki has pledged to put institutional strengthening and capacity building across all sectors at the forefront of integrating South Sudan into the East African Community.
“I want to assure you of my total commitment in building the capacity of your institutions and that of the people of South Sudan to ensure they are able to participate fully in the regional integration agenda,” said Dr. Mathuki during a Private Sector Dinner organized by the South Sudan Chamber of Commerce in Juba yesterday evening.
The Secretary General reaffirmed that the EAC was ready to support the integration of South Sudan, and more importantly to enhance her contribution to regional trade.
“We have noted that institutional strengthening and capacity building in broader sense is vital, and we shall also look into the specific critical areas that will create an enabling environment that supports implementation of the Customs Union and Common Market protocols,” said Dr. Mathuki.
This intervention include the automation of Customs and other agencies, and the uptake of digital skills by the youth.
In addition, Dr. Mathuki noted that the EAC would work with the Private Sector and other Partners in infrastructure development in South Sudan, adding that, “Infrastructure development is a critical factor in creating an enabling business environment in the region.”
Speaking on behalf of the South Sudan business community, Ag.Chairperson of the South Sudan Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Lusidik Lukak noted that the private sector was the second largest employer after the oil industry in South Sudan.
“We appeal to the EAC to support us in building the capacity of our entrepreneurs as well as address some of the trade challenges that are specific to our country,” added Mr. Lukak.
He noted that some of the trade challenges included South Sudan’s extensive distance from the port of Mombasa, as well as various tariff and non-tariff barriers.
On his part, South Sudan Revenue Authority Director General, Dr. Patrick Mugoya called on the EAC to make concerted trade facilitation efforts in South Sudan to enhance the country’s contribution to intra-regional trade.
“The aspect of institutional strengthening and capacity building should focus on the implementation of the Customs Union and Common Market Protocols, to better facilitate the implementation of the EAC Single Customs Territory,” added Dr. Mugoya.
Speaking at the same occasion, the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Rt. Hon. Martin Ngoga said that the Assembly is set to embark on a process of reviewing regional regulations whose implementation is not in line with the establishment of an enabling business environment.
“We have noted certain regulations call for review and the EALA is prepared to make these revisions in consultation with the Partner States and the Private Sector in order to reach a consensus that is favorable to all parties,” said the Speaker.
On his part, the Judge President of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), Justice Nestor Kayobera noted that the EACJ remains an independent and impartial avenue for redress for East Africans.
Justice Kayobera informed the private sector that in an effort to bring the services of the EACJ closer to the people of South Sudan, processes are underway to open a Sub-registry of the Arusha-based Court in Juba.
The Heads of the EAC Organs are on a consultative mission to the Republic of South Sudan aimed at devising strategies that will better facilitate the integration of South Sudan into the EAC.
The EAC delegation also included EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Product and Social Sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo; EACJ Registrar, Yufnalis Okubo; and EAC Director of Finance, Juvenal Ndimurirwo.