The East African Community (EAC) integration agenda has received a major boost after the African Development Bank (AfDB) pledged support to Infrastructure, power connectivity and capacity building for the bloc.

AfDB Regional Executive Director, Mr Cheptoo Amos Kipronoh, stated recently that investment in infrastructure, power connectivity and capacity building were key to economic development and strengthening EAC integration.

The AfDB boss further commended the EAC for being the most integrated bloc among the eight regional economic communities (RECs) recognised by the African Union (AU).

“The AfDB rates EAC very highly. You are truly on course to the Community’s intended objective of transforming the region into a single market for all factors of production for enhanced welfare and economic prosperity of the people of East Africa,” he said.

Likewise, Mr Kipronoh commended the governments of the EAC partner states for their commitment to the integration and urged the EAC Secretariat to continue focusing on removing the challenges to doing business in order to realize value chains in the region.

On his part, the Deputy Secretary-General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Steven Mlote, thanked the AfDB through the Executive Director for the bank’s continued support to EAC integration and reiterated the EAC commitment to strengthen the cooperation.

Eng Mlote further hailed the AfDB for financing a number of infrastructure projects including the Arusha-Holili/Taveta-Voi Road, a transport corridor of the East African region that links the Northern Corridor at Voi to the Central Corridor across the common border at Holili/Taveta through Arusha; Malindi-Mombasa-Lunga Lunga/Horohoro-Tanga-Bagamoyo highway that straddles the coastlines of Kenya and Tanzania, adding that the Athi River-Namanga-Arusha road, which had reduced immensely hours of journey from Nairobi to Arusha.

Equally, Mlote requested AfDB to consider supporting EAC in economic recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and accessibility of vaccines in the region.

“Our regional economy has been affected so much due to the Covid-19 pandemic and we really need urgent intervention to rescue our economy,” he said.

Eng Mlote informed the AfDB official that since May 2020, intra-regional trade has shown significant resilience with a notable positive correlation with measures put in place by Partner States to protect transport corridors from severe disruptions.