The East African Community (EAC) has launched a campaign aimed at creating a new momentum towards its regional integration agenda.
The campaign dubbed ‘The EAC I Deserve’, which targets to reach over 10 million East African citizens in the next one year, was officially launched during the regional bloc’s 20th anniversary in Arusha, Tanzania, on November 21, 2019.
The campaign will include social media interfaces and a regional youth videos and animations competition involving all EAC partner states where 30 youthful winners will take home $25,000.
“The youth must actively engage in the integration process. Accounting for over 65 per cent of East Africa’s total population, capturing and incorporating their dreams and aspirations in the integration agenda through videos and animations in the competition is imperative,” said EAC Secretary-General Ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko.
Ambassador Mfumukeko said the video and animations drive is to enable the youth to capture real life stories about benefits the EAC has had on the citizens’ lives and the challenges they are facing.
The campaign encourages constructive and innovative coverage on the EAC integration process in print, electronic and online media in a bid to provide ordinary East Africans and potential investors and tourists with insights on the importance of the existence of the bloc and opportunities in store for them.
It also seeks to motivate individual journalists and their media houses to take up regional issues as their key areas of interest.
“We need to hear stories from every East African on the impact the EAC has made to his or her life and the future he or she wants,” he said.
He said the EAC secretariat is keen on capturing dreams and aspirations of every citizen of the region through the citizens’ engagement campaign.
He said the campaign will enable citizens to use the digital space to engage the EAC secretariat, partner states, the East African Legislative Assembly, the East African Court of Justice and all institutions of the bloc.
“This crusade will enable EAC citizens to express how they feel in 20 years of the EAC integration agenda and what should be done for it to work better in the coming years,” he said.
“The drive will also offer a space for EAC citizens, the EAC Secretariat and partner states’ agencies to re-affirm each other’s commitments to the integration agenda,” he added.
He said the crusade will engage key partners such as the media, civil society, development allies and students, among other stakeholders to create a new momentum towards integration agenda.
Ambassador Mfumukeko said the regional bloc focuses on achieving new milestones set out in the EAC Vision 2050.
He said that living standards had improved in East Africa in the past 20 years.
Mr Mfumukeko said that the region had achieved progressive and commendable results through various policy initiatives, including new infrastructure, regional industrialisation policies, healthcare approaches, common external tariffs and common higher education area.
“I recognise our children are still in dire need of safer places to play in East Africa and that we need to do better to protect ourselves against effects compounded by climate change,” he said.
He underscored the need for simpler trade policies and easier access to credit for economic stability.
“Our nurses deserve improved healthcare facilities, pupils need well equipped schools and our food vendors deserve a roof over their heads to prevent exposure to ultra violet rays from the scotching sun,” Mr Mfumukeko said.
He said to become competitive globally, young artists deserve better technology to produce their content. He said professionals such as accountants, engineers and doctors deserve freedom of working in locations of their choice without having to pay for any business permits.
To enhance economic development, he said that manufacturers in the region deserve incentives to boost production in order to compete with global players who enjoy low costs of production.
In sports, the official said sportsmen and women deserve better facilities for training and exchange programmes.
“Our investors deserve a stable and predictable regional market with a clear regulatory and statutory legal/tax framework,” he said.
He said the media deserve better working environments in East Africa. He observed that despite registering growth in intra-EAC trade, more investment opportunities remained untapped.
EAC was revived on November 30, 1999 to unite the region, boost their economies and defend the countries’ sovereignties and their natural resources.