, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7- The United Kingdom government through the Department for International Development (DFID) has extended grant support of Sh184 million (£1.6 million) to the Ministry of East African Community (MEAC) to be used in enhancing the EAC Integration Process.
The grant support to be released in three tranches in 2010, 2011 and 2012 will be used to strengthen the ministry’s institutional, technical and human resource capacity in the regional integration process.
“A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between DFID and the Government of Kenya indicates that the DFID funds will be released to MEAC in equal tranches of Sh63.2 million annually over the next three years,” a statement from the ministry read.
Speaking after signing the MoU, Head of DFID Kenya Alistair Fernie said the financial support which runs from May 2010 through to May 2012 will enable the ministry to strengthen its institutional capacity, human resource capacity and its communications capacity as outlined in its Strategic Plan 2008-2012.
Regional integration centres at key border posts such as Lunga Lunga, Namanga, Isebania, Malaba and Busia will also be established. The centres will be manned by integration officers and will act as focal points for both reference and information for traders and EAC citizens traveling across the borders.
They will help address issues and concerns raised by the business community and cross-border travellers in addition to providing links between the ministry headquarters and ground operations at border posts.
Permanent Secretary David Nalo said the funding will enable the ministry to strengthen its human resource development capacity through staff training, recruitment of additional staff and mobilisation of required resources.
The funds will also assist the ministry to raise the profile of its activities through improved public relations and research programmes. The ministry has already placed advertisements in the local and international media sourcing for a PR firm to assist it in the awareness creation and sensitisation campaign.
MEAC will also use the funds to enhance its ongoing information, education and communication (IEC) campaigns on the EAC Common Market Protocol that is due to come into force on July 1 this year.
DFID is already providing technical assistance to the ministry’s Public Communications and Monitoring and Evaluation departments.
The Ministry has over the past three months been conducting sensitisation workshops to increase the level of awareness of stakeholders on the EAC integration in general, and Customs Union and Common Market Protocol in particular.
A series of similar are lined up until the Common Market Protocol is ratified. Some of the most recent events include media appearances, media training and the Association of Professional Societies in East Africa that were aimed at creating awareness.