2008-05-28 15:09:40 GMT 2008-05-28 23:09:40 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
KAMPALA, May 28 (Xinhua) -- East African Community (EAC) has called on the Chinese government to help it in improving the region's dilapidated infrastructure, which analysts say is stalling the region's economic development.
Eriya Kategaya, Uganda's First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Affairs told Xinhua in an interview here on Wednesday that the region, which groups Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, is looking forward to forging closer ties with China in infrastructure sector.
Kategaya, who is also chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers, led a team of ministers responsible for EAC affairs and senior government officials on a working visit to China early this month. The visit focused on learning from the Chinese experience in infrastructure development and lobbying for support and partnership in developing the region's infrastructures.
He said the region's infrastructure including roads, railways, civil aviation, information technology, energy, among others, need to be developed if the region is to attract sustainable investment, trade and development and full integration into the global economy. "China could help us finance these projects through two stages, first carrying out feasibility studies and second financing," he said. He singled out the region's energy crisis as a major factor stalling the region's economic development. Recent statistics showed that on average, each of the five EAC member states annually lose about 1.5 to 2.5 percent of its GDP every year due to the instability and inadequacy of their power supply. "We have come to realize that without sufficient energy, we can not do much in these economies," Kategaya said.
He said the bloc has decided to focus on partnership with China because the Asian country passed through the same challenges the EAC is facing now as it strives to develop.
He said the region has already had the roads, railways, civil aviation, and energy master plans but they lack funding for upgrade.