IMPLEMENTATION is always preceded by planning and as fate would have it, this year marks a final year on EAC priorities.
The clock is ticking as time for the flagship projects whose implementation started in 2017 draws to an end - ringing the curtain down.
Among those within the East African Community (EAC) regional strategy are Consolidation of the Single Custom Territory (SCT) and EAC Infrastructure Development in each partner state and in connecting neighbours.
As most high profile officials in different dockets get prepared or have just resumed official activities after festive season, some have a mountain to climb and make it all the same.
EAC Secretary General (SG) Ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko has reaffirmed EAC's commitment towards realising significant achievements in trade, customs and infrastructure development.
"Trade is a way to reduce conflict and unemployment hence the need to create a favorable business environment that will boost the Private Sector and attract investments within the region,” he said.
The Burundian diplomat was speaking at an event with a European envoy, noting that EAC has an extremely high number of educated yet unemployed youth.
The EAC coordinates, harmonises and complements transport and communications policies; improves and expands existing transport and communications links.
EAC Deputy Secretary General (Planning, Infrastructure, Finance and Administration), Engineer Steven Mlote notes that there are on-going infrastructure projects in the partner states coordinated by the EAC and that are important also in the Great Lakes region, fairing on well.
Speaking on a tour in Kagera in the just-ended year, Engineer Mlote noted that there are also some ongoing feasibility study and design of the Masaka – Kyotera - Mutukula/ Mutukula – Kyaka and Bugene – Kasulo – Kumunazi Road Project.
He disclosed that the role of the regional and multinational road network is to facilitate the development of a more competitive, integrated and liberalised regional road transport market in the EA region.
EAC is keen and optimistic of having a multinational road network that would support development and implementation of harmonised road transport.
On cards also are harmonised transport policies, laws, regulations and standards for efficient cross border road transport and transit networks, transport and logistics services, systems and procedures in the East African region.
Tanzania has spared no effort to ensure it has well-built state-of-the-art infrastructure - including the SGR, extended road networks, fly-overs, improvement of air and marine transport as well as a consolidated STC.
However, cross-border trade, specifically cargo being transported by trucks destined to neighbouring countries has proved to be difficult due to imposed trade restrictions.
For her part in regards to STC, the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) has tightly made headway in heeding the requirements of the EAC's STC.
Under Commissioner General Dr Edwin Mhede, the authority uses STC on goods passing through Tanzania to the EAC countries and intra trade of the region.
The initiative was launched in October, 2013 and piloted first in the Northern Corridor involving Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
Following successful implementation in the Northern Corridor, the same started to be implemented in the Central Corridor that involves Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
A TRA report describes STC as the stage for full attainment of the Customs Union that is achieved by the removal of duties and other restrictive regulations and/or minimisation of internal border customs controls on goods moving among partner states with an ultimate realisation of free circulation of goods.
Under STC Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda are regarded as one Customs Territory that means only one Customs declaration is made in the country at which goods are consigned.
Such one declaration has replaced the old system where imports to Rwanda, Burundi or Uganda required multiple customs declarations; first in Tanzania as Transit Goods and then in Rwanda, Burundi or Uganda as Imports that ultimately involved two or more customs agents to clear the consignment.
The overall benefit for using this system is time and cost saving.