Celebrating the Love of Friends in a Loving World

Celebrating the Love of Friends in a Loving World
Red Roses for You, My Sweet Friends ... Total Love.

My Sweet Friends

My sweet friends,

We grow closer to each other;

When we interact together and share ideas;

The common faith that we share,

Binds our hearts in one accord.

For sweet friendships last a life time,

When built on mutual respect, humility and understanding;

Throughout each different season,

We find we are one in life.

Sweet friends are there through times of grief;

And times when hope is gone;

Always there with encouragement;

So we can carry on.

I thank the Lord for you,

My true and faithful friends;

To fondly speak with you, whether we agree or not,

On this, our beloved blog;

For sweet friends will stay, no matter what;

Giving support.

Together, our hearts and minds truly unite;

With the amazing love of sweet friends.

In the spirit of true friendship,

Best wishes, my sweet friends;

May the Lord bless you abundantly.

I remain, yours truly,

B.B. Bakampa.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

East African Common Market: Opportunities And Challenges

By Bakampa Brian Baryaguma

The East African Common Market is finally here. Effective 1st July, 2010, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, with an estimated population of about 126 million people, entered a free trade arrangement in the region. A common market denotes a situation where two or more states come together to trade as a block thereby creating a bigger consumer base for their products and services. Across East Africa, the operationalization of the Common Market, which was signed on 20th November, 2009, by the regional Heads of State, was marked with great pomp and splendour.

In a presentation to Makerere University students in May, 2010, Hon. Beatrice Kiraso, the East African Community Deputy Secretary General in charge of fast tracking the political integration process, stated the objectives of the common market as being the acceleration of economic growth and development through the attainment of free movement of commodities, labour, capital and the right of establishment and residence; strengthening, coordinating and regulating the economic and trade relations among partner states in order to promote their accelerated harmonious and balanced development; sustaining expansion and integration of economic activities, the benefit of which shall be equitably distributed; and promoting common understanding and cooperation among East Africans for social, cultural and technological advancement.

The common market provides the following freedoms and rights namely, free movement of goods, services, labour and capital. It also provides for the rights of establishment and residence. Clearly, it presents a huge development potential for us. But Hon. Eriya Kategaya, Uganda’s Minister of East African Community Affairs, has clarified that not every sector in individual economies is open for investment by all East Africans. Mr. John Sempebwa, a trade analyst, also says that in order for traders to take benefit of the harmonized taxes in the region, their products must bear certificates of originality in East Africa, without which the common market becomes useless to them. Apparently, protectionism still looms large.

Several issues remain among which is that of free movement of people––the question being whether people can really move from one country to another without any hindrance whatsoever. For example, the necessity of having to get work permits. This is left to states’ discretion considering government policy and matters like security. Rwanda didn’t require work permits before and today Kenya followed suit with President Kibaki directing their waiver.

Suffice to say that the common market is like a rose; very beautiful and attractive but thorny. Much as it presents numerous opportunities, it also poses great challenges. It ushers in the law of the jungle: survival of the fittest. Efficiency is the key to survival here. For instance, Ugandans must all look out for their jobs because they are now eyed by 126m people instead of 30m! Employee loyalty is also crucial.

Nevertheless, as Tanzanian President Kikwete says the common market is a facility which we must utilize. The benefits to reap therefrom, both locally and internationally are so immense that there is no time to whine. It is here and so there isn’t any more room for complaints such as, “we aren’t ready.” We should identify our comparative advantage and capitalize on it to outsmart the rest. Ready or not, we have to move along and move fast enough. Personally, I have my grooves on with my stockings straight up. But this though doesn’t mean that Government shouldn’t play its role here as it must do everything necessary and permissible under this arrangement to protect our weak and nascent sectors from collapsing.