Hon Mike Sebalu of Uganda contributing to debate on integration. The legislator called for the promotion of Kiswahili in the region

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has adopted a key report of its outreach and sensitisation activities and called for more awareness among the people on the benefits of EAC integration.

According to the Assembly, specific interest groups including youth, women, civil and co-operative societies should be fully involved in the integration process and the pillars of integration including the Political Federation, fast tracked. In Uganda, the Members met Ugandan Vice President Edward Ssekandi; the Speaker, Rt Hon Rebecca Kadaga, the Third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, Rt Hon Kirunda Kivejinja and his counterparts, and the Ministers of Trade, Finance, Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

The Chapter also held series of meetings with traders and transporters association, clearing industry association agents and shippers’ association before calling on district leaders in Lyantonde, Rakai and Sembabule.

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Contributing to the debate, Hon Chris Opoka said traders in the region would benefit if the Common Market protocol is fully embraced. The legislator added that the issue of multiple membership of regional blocs needs to be analysed to assess benefits thereof.

“The Council of Ministers need to critically look into the rationale whether it is really necessary for Partner States to be members of multiple blocs and to spread the resources further, or if they should be co-ordinating their efforts at EAC”, Hon Opoka said.

Hon Dora Byamukama called for amendment of the Treaty to cater for the dynamic process of strengthening integration. She said it would be important if the regional Assembly can be constituted into a constituent Assembly to look into the Political Federation.

Third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, Rt Hon Kirunda Kivejinja lauded the Assembly for undertaking sensitisation and said the Council would ensure institutionalisation and adequate financing.

The growing stature of Kiswahili also captured the attention of the legislators, with members observing the growing interest of the stakeholders in embracing and learning the language that is spoken across the EA region as a medium of communication to facilitate trade. Contributing to debate Hon Mike Sebalu, rooted for Kiswahili as a key language that bonds and enables citizens of the region to communicate effectively and efficiently.

According to EALA, the sensitisation report presented by Hon Patricia Hajabakiga, Chair of EALA Rwanda Chapter, is a culmination of outreach and sensitisation activities carried out in the Partner States by the various country Chapters of EALA in June 2016.   The activities held between June 9th to 28th, 2016 were anchored under the theme: EAC Youth Agenda: Accessing the Gains. The Assembly also recommended that the EAC Anthem and the flag should go hand in hand with respective national ones (flags) at all times.

Hon Frederic Ngenzebuhoro stresses a point during debate on the report on Sensitisation.
Hon Frederic Ngenzebuhoro stresses a point during debate on the report on Sensitisation.

Members set out among other things to sensitize the people of East Africa on the integration process; create awareness among the people of East Africa on the gains and challenges of integration and enhance mutual relationships and sustainable networking between EALA and the people of East Africa.

Hon Maryam Ussi makes her contribution
Hon Maryam Ussi makes her contribution

During the sensitization program, EALA country chapters engaged several stakeholders including media, local Government authorities, institutions of learning, Private Sector, women, Youth Councils, Civil Society, Members of Parliament and embassies. Other targeted groups were the border communities, Government institutions as well as Ministries. The Ministries responsible for EAC Affairs in all Partner States coordinated the activity.