Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen has urged Tanzania to tap the potentials of the East Africa integration even though it is a challenging process.
The visiting Premier made the remark in Dar es Salaam yesterday at a roundtable discussion on ‘Bridging Africa’s Transformation Gap: What Europe and Africa need from each other,’ organized by Uongozi Institute.
Katainen said integration is often a challenging process, adding that giving up some political and economic sovereignty is a sensitive and balancing act between different opinions.
He however said the benefits of integration are indisputable as through the process the countries achieve more than they would on their own.
The PM said integration and the European Union have not lost their meaning for European nations as more countries are applying to join the EU.
He said Finland supports deeper EU integration as long as it is fair to all member states and citizens.
“In my opinion, Africa has benefited from integration, for example political integration has given more credibility to African countries in international forum.
Political integration brings stability and peace while economic integration and liberation of trade inside Africa boosts economic growth and raises nations from poverty,” he said.
The Prime Minister said since Europe and Finland have experienced the benefits of integration so strongly, they are also supporters of African efforts to strengthen regional economic and political integration.
He cited Finland saying it has been a long term supporter of the East African Community.
“East Africa is one of the fastest growing economic areas in the world as most of the member countries have had strong annual growth rates averaging above 5 percent over the past decade,” he noted.
“Tanzania with it geographical location is in a unique position to benefit from regional integration. I encourage Tanzania to tap this potential to the fullest,” he said.
For his part Tanzanian Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda said African leaders are committed to a prosperous and united continent that is effectively integrated into global economic system where living conditions of the people are characterised by sustained improvement.
The remarks were read by Minister without portfolio in the President’s Office Prof Mark Mwandosya.
Pinda said there is no doubt that Africa is on the brink of a major transformation, “The process is achievable. Africa is increasingly looking to integrate her economies and trade internally, shifting production to the continent and slowly growing its industrial sector.”
Meanwhile Finnish Minister for International Development, Pekka Haavisto has urged African countries to take precautions when acting towards preventing fragility among African countries.
The minister was delivering a public lecture on ‘Fragile countries and the role of the international community’ at the University of Dar es Salaam, an event attended by academics and IPP Executive Chairman, Dr Reginald Mengi.
According to the minister, African problems should be addressed by African solutions.
Haavisto was against international community’s intervention to deploy military response in fragile countries stressing that ‘negotiations’ should be encouraged among all key players.
“Fragile states are spreading the problems; illegal trafficking, immigration, global terrorism and organised crime to neighboring countries. This has social economic impacts and that should be handled carefully,” he said.
Debating the topic, Dr Mengi said the state of fragility in African countries has external factors and that the role of international community should be reconsidered.
He said due to corruption, there has been misuse of natural resources forcing the majority to apply illegal means of claiming their rights.
Dr Mengi highlighted inequality in exploitation of natural resources where some countries mostly without the resources have been exploiting others hence creating gaps.
Prof Luitfield Mbunda head of law department at the University of Dar es Salaam emphasised that the international community should meanwhile address external forces that are likely to exploit fragile countries instead of intervening when things are out of hand.
“Imagine countries manufacturing light weapons. I think they should prohibit the selling of weapons to countries that are fragile,” he advised.