ONE of the mandates of the Ministry of East African Cooperation (MEAC) is to oversee and coordinate the implementation of the East African Community (EAC) Treaty and its Protocols. One of the cardinal principles of the EAC Treaty is that the Community is a people centered and private sector driven. In 1999, the EAC Partner States set-out to establish a Customs Union, a Common Market and a Monetary Union and ultimately a politically integrated East Africa.
Since then the EAC Partner States have widened and deepened the integration through the establishment and implementation of the Customs Union and Common Market, and through the accession of Burundi and Rwanda into the Community.
The integration of the economies of the five Partner States has been progressing successful, but at a slow pace and with little impact on the common citizens of the EAC (Wananchi). Studies conducted by MEAC and the EAC Secretariat show that the majority of people in East Africa including, Tanzania are not well versed with the EAC or its opportunities. This has been one of the reasons for the inadequate participation of the Wananchi in EAC affairs.
It is in this context and with a view to addressing this missing link in a systematic and holistic manner; the Ministry has formulated a Communication Strategy for awareness creation. Website is one of important communication tools highlighted by the MEAC Communication Strategy. Through this website MEAC aims at creating awareness and sensitizing stakeholders including the business community, Policy and decision makers, and the general public in Tanzania on various developments in the EAC integration.
Awareness creation and sensitization is not only critical in taking everybody on board for sustainable regional integration, but also as one of the tools for accelerating the socio-economic development and poverty alleviation of our people. The full realization of the goals and benefits of the Customs Union and Common Market, whose implementation commenced in 2005 and 2010 respectively, is dependent on the effective participation of the people of East Africa in this endeavor.
We are all aware that the former Community collapsed in 1977 due to among other reason inadequate participation of the people in the integration process. These developments, together with the ongoing process of establishing the Monetary Union, have triggered the momentum for deepening and widening the EAC integration.
We have come a long way, and we need to move together for a steady integration towards a sustainable East African Community that embraces people of all walks of life in this region.
It is therefore, my sincere desire that this Website shall influence the attitudes and actions of our people positively and view the EAC as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. This desire would be crystallized through the support and participation of all stakeholders in awareness creation and sensitization in their various capacities. In so doing, our people through the acquisition of knowledge and information on EAC would automatically be major players in fostering the EAC integration.
I wish you a pleasant reading.
Hon. Amb. Dr. Augustine Mahiga (MP)
Minister of Foreign Affairs, East Africa, Regional and International Cooperation