The 6th Annual SG’s Forum, held in Nairobi, Kenya from 23 to 24 July 2018 under the theme ‘Strategizing for impact: people-centred and market-driven integration’ gives a voice to civil society and private sector organizations and to the citizens of the EAC to make substantial recommendations to EAC policy makers.
Despite being one of the fastest growing regional economic blocs in the world and shaping the economic, political, societal and cultural development of East Africa, many challenges still remain for East African regional integration. Many citizens are still unaware of how the EAC affects their daily lives, making it all the more important to turn the current Annual EAC Secretariat General’s Forum into an effective dialogue platform for stakeholders’ engagement.
The Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko highlighted the importance of the SG’s Forum and agreed with the dialogue parties that the issues presented to the forum are cross-cutting and relevant for all stakeholders in the region. He welcomed the recommendation to establish a dedicated coordinator for the implementation of the Consultative Dialogue Framework (CDF) to be based in his office upon consultation and approval by the Council of Ministers.
The Ambassador urged the Forum delegates not to make unrealistic recommendations which may not be implemented but focus on making the Forum an effective platform for all the stakeholders.
Moreover, he advised participants to develop a pre-budget conference action plan focusing on long term projects for the CDF to propose at the upcoming extraordinary Council of Ministers.
All the stakeholders of the CDF should commit their support and resources to the CDF and the SG’s Forum to enhance the outreach to the citizens and beneficiaries of regional integration. Regional Integration can only become a reality when the citizens are aware, involved and owning the process.
Dr. Kirsten Focken, the Cluster Coordinator of the EAC-GIZ Programme stated that the German support towards enhancing engagement of the privates sector and civil society was premised on this notion.
German development cooperation with the EAC has supported the inclusion of civil society and the regional private sector in the EAC through an institutionalised framework for dialogue since 2008.
This support is anchored in Article 127 (4) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC, which states that the Secretary General shall provide the forum for consultations between the Private Sector, Civil Society organizations, other interest groups and appropriate institutions of the Community .
Consequently the EAC Secretariat and the EAC-GIZ programme on EAC Integration, have jointly developed a Consultative Dialogue Framework (CDF) that institutionalises the dialogue between the EAC Secretariat, the private sector the civil society and other interest groups in East Africa. For six years, the EAC Secretariat and the dialogue parties have utilised the CDF and made substantial progress in having the recommendations of the stakeholders included into regional policy, guidelines and laws.
Under the CDF a joint initiative called the Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa – IIDEA – was established as a tool for engaging citizens of the EAC Partner States in the implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol and to showcase their real integration experiences. Up until today 25 innovative projects from private sector and civil society have been identified and are undergoing successful implementation #integrationmadereal. Six IIDEA Partners have won international, regional and national awards and funding for their project sustainability and scalability.