PUBLISHED ON January 23rd, 2015

Why we should embrace regional integration

Leadership in public service requires not only intellect but also empathy. Empathy is fundamental to good governance considering that we mostly elect our leaders on notions of trust and empathy.

However, one of the major debates in the region is the issue of leaders clinging onto power. It is not just the presidents, look at members of parliament and other office bearers.

It is, therefore, my wish that fellow East Africans could embrace our region’s integration a little faster than it otherwise appears to take for us to witness true democratic governance and register improved quality of life for all citizens.

The roadmap to attainment of our regional integration is making headway. The Common Market Protocol and the Customs Union are at a very tangible stage.

Soon, the Monetary Union which will see East Africa as a block adopt and use a Single Currency by 2024 or even earlier than that. It is vital to note that the East African Monetary Union Protocol once in force will give birth to the EAC Central Bank as a monitoring and regulatory institution though partner states will maintain their Central Banks.

With the EAC vision, a prosperous, competitive, secure and politically united East Africa, coupled with the line mission of widening and deepening economic, political, social and cultural integration in order to improve the quality of life of the people of East Africa through increased competitiveness, value added production, trade and investment. It is evident the earlier we fully up our support and embrace all process to attainment of regional integration the better for all wananchi.

A Political Federation as the final phase in our regional integration is a stage we can’t wait to witness. Here we will have a single president for the region with strict adherence to term limits and upholding the rule of law.

I envision an EAC where there is developed infrastructure with better roads, improved health services with fully equipped regional referrals to help curb flying medical cases to Asia and the West.

Quality academic institutions with limited admission beauracracy, wananchi freely crossing boarders and transacting using a single currency and effectively communicating in both Kiswahili and English.

The right to residency and a work permit free community with one’s national identity card permitting him access across all boarders. Flourishing cross border trade and commerce supported by the East African Railway system, increase in regional bus companies, improved water transport around Lake Victoria with joint marine patrols.

Talk of the East African airlines to offer affordable flights hence giving East Africans flying experience. A stable regional security monitored by the EAC Defense Forces, an increase in regional Domestic Tourism to enable citizens known and appreciate their region’s spectacular tourist attractions, improved agricultural productivity through research and experts exchange programmes hence positioning our region as a food basket for its citizens, the rest of Africa and the world. Most importantly, witnessing an increase in youth employment opportunities across the region.

The sovereignty of each partner state will be upheld, boundaries won’t shift so issues of land grabbing which appears to be the major threat to some partner states hence holding them back from fully embracing the fast tracking of our regions integration should be made clear.

We are better off as a block. Let us embrace regional identity; Proudly East African as we strive towards attaining it. The time is now.

Let us applaud our regional Heads of State, the EAC Secretariat with all its organs for the current efforts towards timely realisation of our dream.

I wish to call upon fellow youth across the region in our respective capacities, civil society organisations, religious and cultural leaders, business community, scholars, the media fraternity and all wananchi to utilise the available opportunity in support of fast tracking our regional integration.

Regional integration is the pride for the young generation and a foundation for unshakable roots. We have the potential to achieve our dream, let us unite. “Inawezekana”.

Source: New Vision

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 Africa.