Top-level EAC talks on social spending due in Kampala

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January 22—Entrepreneurs and businesses dealing with healthcare and infrastructure have a chance of getting insights to […]

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The heads of state are going to review major regional projects with a view towards greater private sector involvement to improve infrastructure.

January 22—Entrepreneurs and businesses dealing with healthcare and infrastructure have a chance of getting insights to future official policy and market trends during a special retreat scheduled for next month in Kampala and highlighted by the attendance of the East African Community heads of state.

A couple of years ago, the World Bank compiled some research that showed that the private sector plays a critical role in delivering health services throughout East Africa. In Kenya, the private sector owns almost two-thirds of all health facilities and is the largest employer of healthcare workers. In Tanzania it provides about a quarter of all health services, but this figure is closer to half in Uganda.

According to a statement from the EAC Secretariat in Arusha, the joint Heads of State Retreat will be held under the theme, Deepening and widening regional integration through Infrastructure and Health Sector Development in the EAC Partner States’.

Deloitte Africa said in 2016 Gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) as a percentage of GDP, (which includes land improvements and the construction of infrastructure by both the private and public sector), is indicative of infrastructure spend of countries. East Africa’s average GFCF spend relative to GDP has consistently been over 20% since 2005, indicating the importance of infrastructure in the region.

Top on the agenda is finding ways to speed up attainment of the EAC Development Strategy, African Union Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals in the infrastructure and health sectors in the Community.

Together with the Partner States and International Development Partners, the Secretariat is now in the final preparations for the retreat set for February 21st -22nd, at Speke Resort Munyonyo, in Kampala.

The Heads of State will address infrastructure and health development and financing in East Africa. This will be followed by the 19th Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State on February 23rd, 2018.

The 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.

According to the statement, ‘The retreat will be preceded by the separate infrastructure and health sector investors’ and donors’ round-tables on 21st February 2018. Also to be held prior to the Retreat will be Ministerial Session of the 36th Meeting of the Council of Ministers and the Ministerial Session of the 35th Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the Council’.

The separate donor roundtables will be held at ministerial level and will review progress of implementation of previously prioritised infrastructure projects and deliberate on investment opportunities and funds mobilization strategies for quicker delivery of prioritised regional infrastructure and health projects.

The Retreat programme includes an exhibition that will run from February 21st to 22nd. The exhibition will provide a platform for players in the infrastructure and health sectors to showcase new products and services as well as exhibit the latest advances in research and innovation.

The joint retreat is being convened at a time when the region’s 10-year infrastructure priorities that were agreed upon during the Third Heads of State Retreat held on November 29th, 2014 in Nairobi have transitioned from the conception phase to the implementation phase.

There will be an update on implementation of the priority projects including relevant policy directives, mobilisation of the required financing and implementation of the resolutions proposed to address the challenges observed at the Third Retreat.

The retreat will target key priority projects in railways, ports and inland waterways, energy and connecting roads prioritized to de-congest the cities and enhance logistics at the ports. Likewise, as agreed during the Third Retreat, the Fourth Retreat is expected to receive a report on the projects and programmes of the civil aviation and airports sub sectors.

Regional presidents are expected to consider the strategies being developed to engage with the private sector in the development of these projects, the enhanced collaboration with the development partners (in particular African Development Bank (AfDB) under the Programme for Infrastructure Development for Africa (PIDA); the World Bank, the EU, JICA and TMEA among other development partners.

According to the Secretariat, the Joint Retreat is being held at a time when the EAC Partner States are expanding the capacity for the delivery of high quality health services, training and research such as through the AfDB/Partner States’ financed regional centers of excellence (RCoE) for Kidney Diseases (Kenya); Heart Diseases (Tanzania); Cancer (Uganda); e-Health, Biomedical Engineering and Health Rehabilitation Sciences (Rwanda); and Vaccines, Immunization and Health Supply Chain Management (Rwanda).

Day break

Centres of Excellence have been set up across East Africa with help from the African Development Bank to raise the quality of healthcare.

With support from the Federal Republic of Germany (through the German Development Bank), the Partner States are also jointly operationalizing an EAC Regional Network of Reference Laboratories for Communicable Diseases (including rapid deployment of state of the art mobile diagnostic medical laboratories) to strengthen the region’s capacity to diagnose and respond to pathogens of biosafety level 3 and 4 nature and other infectious diseases, prone to cause cross-border epidemics.

The retreat will provide policy guidance on: the EAC’s agenda to eliminate HIV/AIDS and preventable maternal and child deaths by 2030; advance medical tourism; strengthen pandemic preparedness and response; enhance local manufacturing of medicines and health products, and; catalyze job creation through the health sector thereby ultimately expanding and consolidating health sector contribution to the socio-economic development of the region.

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