NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – An Integrated Communication Policy and Strategy Handbook on the East African Community integration will soon be unveiled to help address the information gap that exists among the region\’s citizenry.
EAC Minister Prof Helen Sambili said on Monday that the handbook, through which the bloc seeks to sensitise East Africans about the opportunities that exist in the region, is ready to be tabled before the bloc\’s Council of Ministers for approval.
"We want our people to understand the opportunities that exist in the key pillars that underpin the drive of the integration process," said Prof Sambili.
The minister said the integration process is entering a crucial stage that calls for the sensitisation of the public to take advantage of the benefits that accrue from the Common Market Protocol.
The lack of awareness about this process sometimes exacerbates the problems faced by business people particularly those trading across borders since most officials who are supposed to implement the measures agreed upon at the political level are not aware of the changes that they should enforce.
This is one of the reasons that has compounded the problem of Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs) which in turn hinder cross border trade.
Kenya already has a similar booklet through which the Ministry of the EAC seeks to increase the understanding of the integration process. This is part of a greater initiative through which EAC ministry officials will go around country and educate people on the integration agenda.
The intention is to ensure that the integration process becomes a success and that its benefits cascade to people in all levels of the society.
The minister was addressing participants of the fourth EAC Media Summit, where speakers including Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, urged the regional media to continue highlighting the positive aspects that can further the integration agenda.
A lot of progress, he said, would be achieved if the media reported positively and objectively on the issues affecting the 130 million people bloc.
"The media has a cardinal responsibility to inform responsibly. If we have in this country and in this region an impartial media, we would be able to realise our Vision 2030 and perhaps we could even harmonise the region\’s vision," the VP said.
The two-day workshop themed "Claiming the Next Decade: An EAC agenda\’ was also attended by media owners and business people from across the region who heard about the EAC vision of having the integration agenda being people-centred and private sector-driven.
In this respect, EAC Secretary General Amb Juma Mwapachu expressed his desire to have the EAC Heads of State formally recognise the East African Business Council (EABC) which co-hosted the event, as an EAC institution.
Currently, the umbrella body of all associations in the region, is only an observer at EAC negotiations, a situation that many private sector players feel does not put them at the heart of regional integration as stipulated in the EAC treaty.
They have been pushing to be recognised as part of the EAC believing that this would give the Council a stronger say in policy negotiation issues.
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