The retreat “themed “Deepening and widening regional integration through Infrastructure and Health Sector Development in the EAC Partner States” is scheduled for the 21st – 22nd February, 2018 at Speke Resort, Munyonyo, in Kampala.
It will be the fourth time the leaders are meeting to discuss the infrastructure challenges in the region.
The last retreat took place in Nairobi in November 2014 with its sidelines meeting attracting over 400 participants, among them representatives of the African Development Bank Group, the World Bank, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the European Union.
The summit endorsed a ten-year investment strategy for priority regional projects and directed the Council of Ministers to mobilise resources for its implementation.
The meeting at Speke Resort Munyonyo is expected to receive a progress report regarding its implementation three years after.
The EAC secretariat says the retreat in Kampala comes at the time when the region’s ten year infrastructure strategy has transitioned from the conception phase to the implementation phase.
The Heads of States are also expected to consider the reports on actions taken to tackle some of the challenges observed at the 3rd retreat.
One of the issues that remained pending was a suggestion for an East African intermodal transport strategy. The leaders had suggested that the World Bank could be contacted for possible financing of the project.
The World Bank has in the past provided $1.2 billion for the East African Community integration.
The leaders hope that they can still get funds from the World Bank to fund projects to facilitate the Extractives boom in the area of oil and gas.
The projects under the intermodal transport system include the revival of in land waterways on Lake Victoria and Tanganyika along with associated roads and railway links.
The World Bank in 2014 extended over $300 million to the United Republic of Tanzania to support the intermodal railway network.
The EAC intermodal transport strategy mooted in early 2013 focuses on upgrading and redevelopment of major transport corridors to ease transportation of goods in the region.
It has strong focus on the railways, water and road transport.
Analysts studying Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania and Rwanda infrastructure budget for the financial year 2014/2015 welcomed the fact they had allocated a combined $3.7 billion for road and rail infrastructure out of their US$39.84 billion combined budget.
They however said no funds had specifically been budgeted for the installation of intelligent transportation systems to manage the respective countries’ incomplete intermodal integration along the Northern and Central corridors.
“As agreed during the 3rd retreat, the 4th retreat is expected to receive a report on the projects and programmes of the civil aviation and airports sub sectors. Further, the Heads of States will consider the strategies being developed to engage with the private sector development of these projects, the enhanced collaboration with the development partners” reads the statement.
The EAC secretariat said the first EAC heads of state summit on investment in health will head alongside the retreat on infrastructure.
The EAC Summit in June 2016 endorsed the need for convening the summit on investment in health.
“Convening of the event is in recognition of the fact that the EAC region is undergoing major public health transformations fuelled by changing human-animal-environmental interactions, population dynamics and socio-economic development” read an EAC statement.
EAC Secretary General Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, said the two meetings in Kampala are aimed at accelerating the attainment of the objectives of the EAC Development Strategy, African Union Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals in the infrastructure and health sectors in the EAC.
He said the joint Retreat is expected to give impetus to infrastructure and health development by way of harnessing political support for regional flagship projects, funding commitments, and Public-Private Partnerships arrangements.