Authored by Sarah Pacutho | On: Thu, 09/18/2014 - 10:14

“Our collective sense of mission should be to work towards a fully integrated East Africa with all East Africans living in Harmony with each other” Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera

Over 200 delegates gathered at Imperial Resort Beach Hotel in Entebbe Uganda on12th-13thSeptember 2014 for the 3rd East African Community Secretary General’s Forum on the theme; EAC: My Home, My Business. The  delegates were drawn from  the Partner States’ Private Sector Organizations, Civil Society Organizations), professional bodies, academia, media, EAC Organs and Institutions, development partners and other interest groups.

Addressing delegates at the opening of the of the 3rd Forum, Hon. Tarsis Kabwegyere Minister for General Duties stated that the Forum is  an important platform for promoting dialogue between all partners  to exchange and share ideas on achieving a fully integrated East Africa. The Minister further stated that Government of Uganda is committed to take forward the process by steadily implementing the protocols towards the realization of the federation.

Speaking on behalf of MEACA, Mrs. Edith Mwanje-Permanent Secretary MEACA noted that the theme is a reminder of the strong cultural and business ties amongst the partner states revealed in various activities carried out on a daily basis. She further urged participants to strongly take advantage of the forum as a tool for networking and inclusiveness into the EAC integration process. Mrs. Edith Mwanje noted that the forum also gives a chance to PSOs and CSOs to demand accountability which ensures transparency and renewed commitment to take the integration process forward.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Dr. Richard Sezibera the EAC Secretary General commended the PSOs, CSOs and other interest groups for their role in the integration process under the Consultative Dialogue Framework. Such as monitoring and advocacy on elimination of NTBs, advocacy on extended jurisdiction of East Africa Court of Justice, improving infrastructure network, among others. Lastly the Secretary General made an appeal to the parties of the dialogue that collective effort and work should be towards a fully integrated East Africa with all East Africans living in harmony with each other.

In his Key note address, Prof. Yash Tandon in his thesis stated that EAC’s renaissance is challenged externally by threat of European re-colonization of Africa and the beginning of a second cold war and internally by the democratic and leadership challenge. He further emphasized that it is the responsibility of the East African governments to provide funds to the Secretariat from their own budget lines to make it free from donor funding.

Representing East Africa Business Council (EACBC), Mr. John Bosco Rusagara pointed out that the Policy makers have a key role to play in making the EAC a suitable home for stay and for business for all which includes development, reform and harmonization of appropriate policies and legislation that facilitate an enabling environment for the participation of the citizens, Civil society, Private Sector and other interest groups.

At the conclusion of the Forum, various recommendations were made from the discussions and these include; EAC  region should clearly define its own interest and priorities in the face of the emerging global trends and challenges, EAC should invest more in democratic governance and accountable leadership which will ensure a shared vision by all the citizens of East African partner states, Civil Society are a major force for creating change and therefore should critically analyze why the region did not achieve the MDGs and  develop strategies to ensure that the SDG implementation is achieved and  strengthen national dialogue platforms under the coordination of Ministries for East African Affairs (MEACAs), EABC, EACSOF national chapters and as well as other interest groups.

The Forum’s activities started on Thursday 11th September 2014, with a sensitization activity at the Nakiwogo Market, Entebbe. Delegates and members of the public also engaged in cleaning up exercise of the market as well as voluntary HIV/AIDS counseling and testing.

The East Africa Secretary General’s Forum is an annual event which aims to provide a platform for regular dialogue between the EAC Secretary General and the Private Sector, Civil Society and other interest groups on how to improve the EAC integration process.