In the morning of the 5th of February sirens could be heard throughout Arusha. At the headquarters of the East African Community (EAC) they were loudest around 10 am, shortly before the German President Dr. Joachim Gauck was about to enter the EAC compound, coming from the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
As part of a 4-day visit to Tanzania, stopping at Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, it was the first-ever visit of a sitting German President to the EAC – a step that was highly appreciated by the Secretary General Dr. Richard Sezibera during his welcoming remarks.
In a remarkable speech in the hall of the East African Legislative Assembly, President Gauck acknowledged the commitment of the EAC “to peace and freedom, to democracy and the rule of law, and to human dignity and humanity”. Speaking as a German and a European at the same time, he shared many of his experiences. He underlined the fact that the EAC is on a good way to serve as a role model and pacesetter in Africa because of its ambitious goals: With a Customs Union and Common Market Protocol already in place, the EAC is planning on implementing a Monetary Union by 2024. Comparing the development and history of the European Union to the one in East Africa, he further encouraged the EAC vision of a political federation: “The ambitious aims of the East African Community deserve the greatest respect”. Referring to the challenges that the European Union is facing at the moment, he reminded the EAC that difficulties and conflicts are testing the strengths of the community – but that it is a chance for growing together rather than splitting apart.
President Gauck highlighted the importance of including the “young generation” into the integration process, as they are the ones for whom “today’s promises may become reality” and directly addressed 10 Youth Ambassadors attending his visit. The speech further covered topics on the good economic performance of the EAC, the importance of peace and stability for the region, as well as the value of human rights and solidarity.
The visit ended with closing remarks by Hon. Jesca Eriyo, Deputy Secretary General of Productive and Social Sectors.
All words spread were warmly received and will remain long in the minds of the ones present.