PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni called on President John Mafufuli in Chato District, Geita Region last Saturday on his return from Luanda, Angola where he had attended a quadripartite summit involving Angola, Rwanda and DR Congo.
The two heads of state held discussions centered around bilateral, regional and continental matters and noted that they intend to cooperate and make use of Lake Victoria to bolster trade in East Africa, as well as the newly constructed Chato airport and the Standard Gauge Railway.
President Magufuli said the three states of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, intend to pool resources for the purchase of ships to facilitate transportation of goods amongst the states.
The two heads of state held a tete-a-tete briefly at President Mgaufuli’s country home before President Museveni departed for Kampala.
Museveni visit came after Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta, visited President Magufuli at his home village in Chato District some ten days ago and cautioned political leaders against making inflammatory remarks that may sow seeds of division among East Africans.
The caution followed utterances by Kenyan Member of Parliament, Charles Njagua threatening foreigners doing businesses in Kenya. The Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda leaders also discussed the need to promote trade relations and integration in the East African region.
That is where we would like to emphasize because we are of the view that we are trading below our potential.
The private sector in the three EAC member states need to capitalise on the political will shown by our leaders to boost intra-regional trade and our governments make sure they help that to happen.
We need to leverage on our comparative advantages and strategic geographical locations and natural resources to boost intra-regional trade by addressing the challenges that hamper trade between our countries.
The political will of our top leaders and their deep commitment to uphold the spirit of the EAC regional integration process should re-energise our efforts for more trade and economic relations.
We in the EAC have great potential to increase intra-regional trade and set the pace for the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).