EAC In­te­gra­tion will work if we pull to­gether

East African Business Week - - EDITORIAL -

Re­cently in Kam­pala, the East African Le­sistaltve Assem­bly held it’s sit­ting and this was ad­dressed by the Pres­i­dent of Uganda, Yow­eri Kaguta Mu­sev­eni. In his ad­dress, he ap­pealed for unity and the need for East Africa to be­come self suf­fi­cient in man­u­fac­tur­ing and pro­duc­tion of goods. The pres­i­dent also men­toned man­power as one of the big­gest as­sets in East Africa. East Africa has a large pop­u­la­tion, over 130 mil­lion and a huge num­ber of youth, most of them be­low the age of 25, a very pro­duc­tive pop­u­la­tion. It is now im­por­tant for gov­ern­ments to fol­low up with plans and pro­grammes to en­gage this age group. Agri­cul­ture, while it em­ploys a large pop­u­la­tion, is not a very at­trac­tive ocu­pa­tion mainly due to the mea­gre retrns. The re­cent dry spell has done agri­cul­ture no favours and the im­age is look­ing more and more dis­mal in this sec­tor. How­ever, there is a lot that the EAC can do to mit­i­gate the poor agri­cul­tural out­put. For starters, EAC coun­tries re­cently agreed to use the wa­ters of the Nile for ir­ri­ga­tion. This, how­ever, has not yet been im­pli­mented and the clock is tick­ing. It is also im­por­tant for the EAC to en­cour­age mech­a­ni­sa­tion and the education of her pop­u­la­tion to be skilled in han­dling ma­chin­ery and mod­ern meth­ods of agri­cul­ture. While it may have its mer­its, it is also not good to blindly adopt GMOS due to the pos­si­ble is­sues with health re­lated chal­lenges. For the EAC to make goods lo­cally, there has to be a great amount of in­vest­ment both in in­fra­struc­ture and in man­power. This calls for a con­certed ef­fort both in the education sys­tem and qual­ity of teach­ing and in­struc­tion. In East Africa, we are one peo­ple in so many dif­fer­ent ways. In sev­eral places, the bor­ders ac­tu­ally di­vide rel­a­tives and whole tribes. It should not be dif­fi­cult for us to work to­gether, there­fore. We just need to al­lign our politics to match what we al­ready are, one peo­ple. In all this, what is ma­jorly re­quired is the fund­ing to reach stated ob­jec­tives. There has to be a lot of sav­ing, or ad­just­ment in pri­or­i­ties oth­er­wise a lot will be said but when the im­pli­men­ta­tion pe­riod ar­rives, not much can be done. Apart from peo­ple, the EAC is lucky to have many ac­tual nat­u­ral re­sources. We have some of the fresh­est wa­ter on earth in the largest lake in the world, Lake Vic­to­ria which is, quite frankly, so un­der­uti­lized. We also ob­vi­ously have tourism which is a nat­u­ral re­source in the form of an­i­mals and great land­scapes and beau­ti­ful hos­pitable peo­ple. The tourism po­ten­tial, is so high and has to be har­nessed through sev­eral chan­nels that will help us har­ness this great oth­er­wise not fully tapped re­source. It is heart­en­ing that Uganda is pri­or­i­tiz­ing tourism. This should also be done as an EAC joint ef­fort. This is al­ready be­ing done with the one tourism viza, but a lot more joint ef­forts can be car­ried out. The EAC is sim­ply the great­est place to live in and our gov­ern­ments will only be wise to re­alise the po­ten­tials are just there for the tak­ing.

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