South Sudan has become the newest member of the East African Community (EAC). This makes it the sixth country to join the regional trading bloc, after the heads of State attending the 17th Ordinary East African Community (EAC) summit approved its proposal. The EAC initially consisted of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
The move increases East Africa’s market size to about 162 million people. The summit is being hosted by Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli who has been voted as the new EAC chair. President Uhuru Kenyatta is among the EAC leaders attending the summit.
Mr Liberat Mfumukeko from Burundi has been appointed the new EAC Secretary General to replace Richard Sezibera from Rwanda, while former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa is the new facilitator of the Burundi peace talks.
The heads of State attending the summit also launched the new generation international East African passport (e-Passport) according to statement of from the EAC Secretariat.
The e-passport will have a secure identification, provide protection against identity theft as well as eliminate of data skimming.
According to the Kenya’s Department of Immigration, the passport will be issued towards the end of the year and will be embedded with a contactless electronic chip.
According to the EAC Secretariat, other issues discussed at the meeting included sustainable financing mechanisms for the EAC and the EAC institutional review and council reports on the model, structure and action plan of the EAC political federation; implementation of the framework for harmonised EAC roaming charges; modalities for promotion of motor vehicle assembly in the region and reduction of the importation of used motor vehicles from outside the Community.
Others are the promotion of the textile and leather industries in the region, and stopping importation of used clothes, shoes and other leather products from outside the region.