Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera

The East African Community (EAC) Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera, has disclosed that the secretariat will this year work harder to ensure the implementation of the bloc’s single tourist visa.

Once the single visa is issued, international tourists will be allowed to tour all EAC member countries without need for a national visa, an initiative that will boost regional tourism sector, according to experts.

Dr Sezibera was addressing a just-concluded EAC business forum in Nairobi, Kenya that attracted business leaders from.

“The issuance of a single tourist visa, the internationalization of the East African Passport, the use of national identity cards for movement within East Africa among Partner States that have agreed to do so, plus liberalization and domestication of EAC airspace will be among the priorities for the Community, this year,” a statement quoted the former Rwandan health minister, as saying.

The head of Tourism and Conservation at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Rica Rwigamba, has previously said that Rwanda was ready to implement the EAC single tourist visa.

“We are ready to implement it and there are other countries that are equally at an advanced stage. Our aim is to widen the market,” she recently told The New Times.

The EAC Sectoral Council on Tourism and Wildlife Management has called on partner states to fast-track the introduction of the single EAC tourist visa saying the process was taking too long.

Amb. Sezibera said the construction of the One Stop Border Posts and other integrative infrastructure, as well as implementation of the agreement on harmonized axle load and other transport regulations, including sabotage regulations, were expected to significantly bring down the cost of doing business in the region to the benefit East Africans.

He also noted that EAC has adopted an environmentally friendly industrial policy and strategy, and encouraged the private sector to work with the EAC Secretariat on its implementation.

“Industrialization, including agro-processing requires concerted action from governments, the private sector, and civil society.

“It also requires us to accept change, otherwise East Africa must industrialize or be left at the margins of the global economy,” added Sezibera.

By Eric Kabeera, The New Times

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