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East Africa: EAC Mulls Comparative Advantage Principle

Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

AS coronavirus pandemic effects are being felt across the East African Community (EAC), the community feels the need to embrace the principle of comparative advan- tage so as to keep business going and bring life back to normalcy.

The idea has been floated just a few days after Presi- dent John Magufuli and his Kenyan counterpart, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta conversed and solved a border dispute about truck drivers crossing from one country to another.

Tanzania has, from the beginning opted for no lockdown practice and the move has since paid off.

Speaking on behalf of EAC Secretary General, Ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko, Kenya’s EAC Affairs and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary (CS), Mr Adan Mohammed said that the aim of embracing the principle was to keep regional trade going and that EAC remains united and together defeat the Covid-19 for common good.

“We must therefore strengthen our trade bond and utilise the principle of comparative advantage to keep regional trade going,” said the CS upon handing over mobile labs from the EAC Secretariat to Kenya.

“EAC must remain to- gether to defeat this disease for our common good,” added Mr Mohammed.

The principle refers to an economy’s ability to produce goods and services at a lower opportunity cost than that of trade partners.

A comparative advantage gives a company the ability to sell goods and services at a lower price than its competi- tors and realise stronger sales margins.

The law of comparative advantage is popularly attributed to English political economist David Ricardo and his book “On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation” in 1817, although it is probable that Ricardo’s mentor James Mill originated the analysis.

CS Mohammed disclosed that the government of the Federal Republic of Germany had availed 23 million Euros to the EAC Network of Public Health Reference Laboratories for the supply of equipment and capacity building health professionals charged with the responsibility of combating communi- cable diseases in the region.

He noted that Kenya and other EAC partner states continue to implement the existing EAC protocols to ensure that the region is cushioned from the devastating impact of the Covid 19 pandemic.

“We continue to provide policy guidance to ensure re- gional trade continues unin- terrupted.

We have enhanced surveillance along the transit corridors by carrying out screening of truck drivers and crew at the One Stop Border Posts (OSBP) and designated weighbridges by increasing the health screening personnel.

The CS noted that the crisis was impacting nega- tively on regional economies by disrupting the regional trading system, industry and financial markets and called for cooperation among EAC Partner States to conquer the virus. Mr Mohamed handed over the labs to Health Cabi- net Secretary, Mr Mutahi Kagwe.

The Mobile Labora- tory Project is an initiative of the EAC Secretariat and is being funded by Germany through the German Development Bank (KfW) and the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNIT).

Mr Kagwe disclosed that one mobile lab would be sta- tioned at Namanga on the Kenya-Tanzania border and the other at the Naivasha dry port on the Nairobi-Malaba Highway.

“In addition, we are also receiving mobile lab accesso- ries, consumables, PPE, ICT (laptops, satellite phones) and electrical systems,” said the CS, adding that the EAC Regional Network of Public Health Reference Labo- ratories was a key pillar in strengthening the region’s capacity to diagnose infec- tious diseases.

“These labs will strengthen each Partner States’ ca- pacity in this area. To achieve all this, the EAC Secretariat has overseen the procurement of mobile lab units, training of laboratory experts to operationalise these units and are scheduled to cascade knowledge transfer in order to build a critical mass of scientists across the country,” he added.

Mr Kagwe noted that the mobile labs were equipped with modern equipment such as PCR and ELISA machines that are able to diagnose most pathogens causing communi- cable diseases such as Ebola and Covid-19.

“They have a combined capacity to support 2,000 tests per day and couldn’t have come at a better time to complement the existing laboratory network,” he said.

The German Ambassador to Kenya, Ms Annett Gunther said that the labs would boost Kenya’s testing capacity for Covid-19. “Covid-19 is a crisis that tests us on how we treat ourselves.

We can only beat the pandemic when we work together,” she said, disclosing that the training of health workers would commence next week.

The EAC Secretariat has also been providing Covid-19 reagents to the partner states to better facilitate the testing and management of the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: All Africa

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark East Africa.

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