The key to unlocking the East African Community potential lies with its leaders and the people, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
Addressing the Kenyan diaspora in Kampala, Uganda, President Kenyatta said Kenyans and Ugandans need not look at each other as competitors but rather as complementing each other to compete favourably with the rest of the world.
“You are in the frontline of furthering and deepening the partnership that exists between our two countries,” the President told thousands of Kenyans who had turned up at the Hotel to acknowledge his greetings.
The President noted that the two countries enjoyed unique relations necessary for residents to forge business partnerships that create more opportunities and grow the economy.
“We cannot separate from one another, our borders are such that communities do not recognize boundaries that were created by the colonialists,” he said.
The President said he is keenly following up the issue of integration as it is the one which will ultimately deliver the region and Africa at large from the yoke of economic strangulation.
The President noted that the “divide and rule tactics” introduced by the colonialists managed to rule Africa but once the indigenous people realized the importance of their unity it was impossible for the white man to continue ruling them”
“For a long time as Africans we have been affected by the disease caused by the Europeans of being told of our differences. Not only that you are Kenyan but reminding us of our tribal backgrounds; we forgot that they were reminding us of our tribal differences so as to continue dominating us,” said the President.
The President said after independence the same people came up with tactics of ensuring Africans continue in their ignorance so as to remain divided and continue with civil wars.
The President said it was as a realization of this that Kenyans came up with the most progressive constitution which safeguards the rights of every single individual regardless of their background.
He said Kenyans and other East African citizens need to take up similar steps and do away with artificial boundaries which have become more of an obstacle rather than a source of prosperity.
The President said it is only through partnership and integration that Africans will be able to gain prosperity that their citizens truly desire.
“As a people we must recognize that our strength lies in our unity, our strength lies in us being able to work together as one people, our problems can only be resolved by working together,” said President Kenyatta.
The President challenged government bureaucrats to stop being an impediment to regional efforts of integration and instead facilitate wananchi to move freely and do business with one another.
“You who are in positions of leadership in government should never look at the narrow aspect of doing things. You should not look at a Ugandan coming to Kenya or a Kenyan going to Uganda as an individual who has come to take jobs for your citizens,” said the President.
“You should instead see how you can facilitate our people and the region to become globally competitive. Look at how you can help Ugandan and Kenyan business community to be globally competitive to create jobs for our youth,” President Kenyatta added.
He said bureaucrats are endangering the stability of the region by putting obstacles to integration as the large EAC youth population can easily be misused for destructive activities.
Others who spoke during the meeting were Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Cabinet Secretary Amb. Amina Mohammed, Leader of the Majority in Parliament Aden Duale and Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko.
Earlier President Kenyatta, who is on the second of his three-day state visit to Uganda, toured a pharmaceutical plant which specializes in the production of the latest Anti-retroviral (ARVs) and Anti-malaria (ACTs) medicines.
The plant, which is owned by Cipla Quality Chemical Industries Limited, manufactures 80 million tablets a month and plans are finalized to increase production capacity to 100 million tablets a month.
The establishment of the pharmaceutical is in line with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan of Action and Millennium Development Goals.
It aims at providing affordable, newer and safer medicines for the poor.
The company focuses on HIV/AIDS and Malaria as these are the biggest health challenges of the century in Africa.
The President was conducted on a tour of the plant by the company’s chief pharmacist Sam Opio.