A two-day meeting on development in eastern Africa has ended with an appeal for greater integration of the regional economies.
At the conclusion of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) conference, the presidents of Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, along with senior officials from eight other countries in eastern Africa, agreed to a number of measures to link countries in the region.
Among them is the construction of road networks, oil pipelines, and fiber optic cables across borders and the implementation of peace and security, education, and agriculture projects in the region.
In his closing speech, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki lamented that Africa accounts for only two percent of the world's exports. He said to move ahead eastern Africa and other regions must form strong economic alliances.
"Regional economic blocs are meant to serve as the foundation for an economic integrated continent. As regional leaders, we have an obligation to implement NEPAD programs that facilitates the evolution of an integrated continent," said Mr. Kibaki.
He also said governments and the private sector also must work in partnership.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said one of eastern Africa's major goals is to gain access to international markets.
"Getting markets to sell what we produce is very, very important in order to get growth and transformation," said Mr. Museveni. "Now, in order to do all this, you must work as one unit in Africa."
He said countries should make job creation a priority, develop an educated workforce, and improve transport and communication infrastructures.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame also urged eastern African countries to move towards economic integration.
"Integration does not only provide us with a bigger internal market when it comes to developing countries, it also gives us a bigger voice in actually fighting for this right to access the markets of the developed world," he commented.
The New Partnership for Africa's Development is an initiative created two years ago by the African Union to provide a platform for the discussion of development issues.
This conference is the initiative's second meeting of eastern-African regional ministers. The first was held in Kampala last year.