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The East African : Oct 27th 2014
42 PROJECTS ON COURSE Info≥mal diplomatic ≥elations lead to ease of doing business ac≥oss ≥egion which the three countries have set in motion the implementation of 14 joint regional projects. However, notable by their R absence from this ambitious integration agenda are Burundi and Tanzania; both have declined invitations to be part of the projects despite being members of the EAC. The East African region needs to accelerate development and the joint projects are a welcome departure from political rhetoric to a more sophisticated agenda of social and economic transformation. This approach to regional integration requires forward thinking and mutual respect. Since the inception of the projects, Presidents Paul Kagame, Uhuru Kenyatta and Yoweri Museveni have put away the diplomatic niceties and flowery speeches, which are the custom with most African regional integration planners. Instead, they have focused on designing regional projects with deliverable targets. Results so far show realistic progress towards meaningful regional integration. Progress is measured by im- plementation: In the past eight months, 17,600 Kenyans and 134,000 Ugandans have freely entered Rwanda by merely presenting national identity cards or student cards. The use of national identity cards as travel documents is analogous to the European Union. Using national identity cards as travel documents will encourage more travel within the three countries, enhance opportunities for cross-border trade and cultural and social exchanges and deepen integration among citizens. In addition, through the in- troduction of a Single Customs Territory, the number of days a wanda, Uganda and Kenya are enjoying a seamless diplomatic relationship, through The EastAfrican BUSINESS OCTOBER 25-31,2014 Sma≥t Telecom to invest $300m By ISAAC KHISA The EastAfrican MOBILE NETWORK operator Smart Telecom is planning to invest $300 million in the development of value added services for its subscribers across East Africa. Smart Telecom, owned and op- erated by Industrial Promotion Services, a subsidiary of the Aga Khan Fund for Development, also plans to enter the Kenyan and Rwandan market soon, having set up operations in Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi early this year. Abdellatif Bouziani, the firm’s Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda at summit in Uganda. Pic: File COMMENTARY RICHARD K. LEBERO “Joint projects are a welcome departure from political rhetoric to a more sophisticated agenda of social and economic transformation.” container takes from Mombasa to Kigali has reduced by 73 per cent, and from Mombasa to Kampala by 70 per cent, resulting in an aggregate saving of $1,603 per container. This bold effort reduces transaction costs, which in turn benefits the consumer. Reduction in multiple Cus- toms declarations for fuel has dropped by 90 per cent, transit bonds on fuel in the form of bank guarantees have been eliminated, and the Kenya Pipeline Corporation has extended working hours at the point of loading. The integration agenda re- quires guaranteed security and as a result the three coun- tries have signed ambitious defence, peace and security pacts to enhance immediate collective action against threats to national security and sovereignty. The three countries are now working on a One-Network Area, which will reduce calling rates by the removal of roaming charges. However, despite remarkable progress, the Northern Integration Initiative faces considerable challenges, especially at the structural and project management level. Structurally, with the intention of reducing bureaucracy, the initiative lacks a cohesive institution to drive the integration agenda. It is essentially grounded in political will and, although this is important, it is unpredictable. And though ad hoc meetings can deliver results in the short run, it remains unclear whether this is sustainable. Infrastructure projects are complex undertakings that require resource mobilisation as well as clear project management structures with checks and balances. Without concrete project management structures incor- porating private-sector captains, the projects face numerous challenges such as corruption and low standards. Notwithstanding the chal- lenges, the region is finally open to integration. In the near future, the region will have a standard gauge railway, significantly reducing the costs of ground transportation. Also, by jointly investing in power generation and transmission, the cost of doing business in the region will drop through reduction in energy costs. There is still more to be done and implementation of the projects requires continued resolve. The joint infrastructure projects could positively change lives, ease the cost of doing business and radically transform the East African region with spillover effects on the continent. Dr Richard Karugarama Lebero is an investment/ international law lawyer currently working in the Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of Rwanda. The views expressed are entirely those of the writer. Tanzania seeks investo≥s to help build cont≥ol cent≥e BY HELLEN NACHILONGO Special Correspondent TANZANIA IS seeking foreign and local contractors to put up a control centre to support the operations of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. Dar es Salaam’s BRT is currently under construction. BRT is a bus-based mass transit system that aims to combine the capacity and speed of light rail with the flexibility, lower cost and simplicity of a bus system. According to Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (DART) engineer Serpion Tigahwa, the world-class facility, whose construction is expected to begin in January, will improve business efficiency and monitor buses that are on the road. “With the advances in technology, we have decided to introduce the system to help boost the country’s economy and increase revenue collection,” he said. DART engineer John Shauri said they have issued a tender for construction of the multistorey building with 15 floors, 60 parking lots and 1,398 square metres of a pedestrian lobby. Mr Shauri said the centre will comprises a complex of 9,020 square metres of office space, shopping malls, banking halls, and feeder station restaurants as well as 2,860 square metres of associated services. At least Tsh411 billion ($250 million) in revenue is lost annually through Dar es Salaam’s chronic traffic jams, with commuter bus (dala dala) owners being the biggest losers. According to studies by the Confederation of Tanzania Industries, traffic jams are costong businesses more than 20 per cent of annual profits. Dar es Salaam drivers spend an average of four hours on the roads every day; the completion of the BRT and the control centre will reduce the time to one hour. Smart Telecom will provide value added services to its subscribers. Picture: File group chief executive officer, said the firm will compete with wellestablished telecom firms such as MTN Uganda, Airtel and Vodacom. “We are planning to invest more than $300 million in the next five years, based on the performance of the business. At the moment, the investment is not in infrastructure because that is already there. We need to invest in bringing in the latest technology, products and services, and platforms that are currently not available to customers,” Mr Bouziani said. “We are talking about smart home, smart security, smart learning; these are the products that we want to bring into the market.” Smart Telecom has leased thou- sands of towers from the British cellular tower specialist Eaton Towers and the American Tower Corporation. Out of Uganda’s 17 million sub- scribers, MTN is the dominant player with 10 million subscribers, followed by Airtel Uganda with 7.5 million subscribers, and the rest shared between Uganda Telecom, Orange and now Smart Telecom. Vodacom tops Tanzanian’s mo- bile phone subscriber numbers with 12.3 million, followed by Airtel Tanzania with 7.5 million subscribers, Tigo with 5.6 million; Zantel, Tanzania Telecommunication Company Ltd, Smart Telecom, Benson and Sasatel share the rest of the country’s 28 million subscribers, according to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority.
Oct 20th 2014
Nov 3rd 2014