Promoting EAC Regional Integration among Border Communities in Tanzania and Kenya

The bustling Sirari-Isebania border crossing between Kenya and Tanzania sees huge numbers of local traders carrying and driving their goods between the two countries every day. Working with border communities to increase awareness of the benefits and opportunities of East African Community (EAC) membership is a priority for both the EAC and German development cooperation implemented by GIZ, and following on from previous outreach workshops in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, the EAC and the EAC-German Cooperation Programme held the last of its outreach and sensitisation events in Isebania (Republic of Kenya) on the 23rd and 24th of April 2015.
The two-day workshop started with a presentation held in English and Swahili on the EAC and its two main integration processes: Customs Union and Common Market. The event brought together local traders and customs and immigration officials from Kenya and Tanzania alike. Therefore, there was much opportunity for constructive debate and the posing of vital questions, such as how to reduce waiting times for traders when crossing the border.
On the final day of the workshop, participants split into groups with different topics to discuss – ranging from non-tariff barriers to monetary union. At the end of the session, each small group presented their thoughts on individual topics, and collectively reflected on ways to further promote regional integration. In the words of one attendee: “If somebody is able to say: Mama, you can just walk inside the Sirari area [in Tanzania], get your shoes and come back to Kenya and sell them; this is a bigger benefit than we might be able to express during a workshop. We have all the advantages and all the benefits… and we need this East African Community, we really do”.