The East African Community (EAC) and Germany have firmed up their longstanding cooperation by signing an additional US$11.5 million financing agreement to support water resource management at the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC).
Germany further committed an additional US$12.6 million to support the digitalization of trade and integration in the bloc, EAC pandemic preparedness and in integrating the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki and Ralf Orlik, the German Development Bank (KfW) Country Manager for Kenya and Tanzania signed the agreement for Phase II of the project to promote sustainable water management in the catchment area of Lake Victoria.
The signing follows two days of consultations on priorities for the development cooperation in the next years, between the EAC and Germany, negotiations that were steered by Claudia Imwolde-Kraemer, head of the delegation from the Germany Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
From the US$12.6 million committed, US$3.4 million will be channeled into facilitating the cross-border movement of professional service providers through utilization of digital technologies.
This is structured under a new EAC project dubbed, ‘Digitalisation for East African Trade and Integration (DIGEAT)’ that will begin implementation in 2022.
Germany committed US$4.6 million to drive the continental economic integration under the AfCFTA.
The funds will enable the project to contribute to ensuring EAC citizens benefit from the economic opportunities availed by the AfCFTA.
Support to the region’s pandemic preparedness will be extended by US$4.6 million in a move to strengthen regional awareness on infection prevention.
Through the project, handwashing facilities in various high-risk areas across the bloc have been constructed.
The project has successfully been implemented in One-Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) and major harbors in the region and aims at reducing the risk of infection for travelers and migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking during the meeting, Dr. Mathuki said that the new financing agreements and renewal of commitments would help build resilience for EAC economies and improve the lives of citizens of the Community.
“The cooperation will go a long way in strengthening our trade and economic infrastructure and building the region’s capacity on health and pandemic preparedness, ” he said.
On her part, Kraemer highlighted the challenges of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic for the economic and social development in the region.
“The temporary closure of borders and the lack of harmonized procedures have created new barriers for the flow and mobility of people, goods and services and thus been a major setback for regional integration and the livelihoods in particular of communities depending on informal cross-border trade,” said Kraemer.
She emphasized that the pandemic demonstrates the importance of strengthening regional coordination and integration.
“Neither does a virus stop at national borders nor have strictly national approaches proven successful to contain the current pandemic,” said Kraemer.
KfW, on behalf of the German government together with the EU, is supporting the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) in helping the neighbouring states to better manage the lake and its catchment area.
This, as the lake is in a vulnerable state with pollutants, decreasing biodiversity, untreated sewage and the rapid population on its banks threatening its existence.
Other areas of cooperation include; training and education and digitalization.
They also exchanged ideas on possibilities to strengthen the regulatory framework for vaccine production in the region and to create an enabling environment for investments in this area.