EAC Integration will work if we pull together
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.