The Ministry of East African Community Affairs has started a mass awareness campaign to encourage more Ugandans to take advantage of the opportunities created by regional integration.
Not long ago a Ministry survey showed that 33% of the general respondents were not aware of the integration process. This has been given as a reason why Uganda has not fully benefited from integration.
Speaking recently at a half-day stakeholders meeting in Kampala, the Ministry’s permanent secretary, Edith Mwanje, the government is putting in more efforts to ease trade and create more opportunities for citizens.
“We received over 400 million shillings (about $115,000) from Trademark East Africa to carry out a campaign throughout the country so as to create awareness on the benefits and the opportunities of the EAC regional integration.
“This campaign is an opportunity for Ugandans since it will be carried out all over the country and the ordinary Ugandans need to be sensitized in order to appreciate the purpose, benefits and challenges of the EC integration,” she said.
Some of the activities planned include mass media campaigns, music competitions, theatre drama and stakeholder meetings.
She said Ugandans have still not yet embraced the advantages of an economic bloc that has a market of 136 million people and a combined gross domestic product of $79.2 billion.
“Since the launch of EAC Customs Union and the Common Market Protocol, investors are increasingly responding to the unfolding larger single market and investment area in an enthusiastic manner.
“From 2004 to 2012, inflows of foreign direct investment to Uganda dramatically rose from $295 million in 2004 to about $834 million in 2012. As one bigger sovereign state, the East African Community has more bargaining powers on the global market.”
All these advantages if taken advantage of can shift our economy from a developing economy to a fully developed self-supportive economy,”
Some of the activities of the campaign include mass media campaigns, music competitions, theatre drama and stakeholder meetings.
In November 2013, the EAC heads of state signed the East African Monetary Union protocol with an implementation schedule that will see the region launch a single currency by 2040, reducing transaction costs sustainably.
Speaking at the workshop, the State Minister in charge of General Duties, also holding the portfolio of Minister of EAC affairs Tarsis Kabwegyere said the revival of the EAC 15 years ago is one of the region’s greatest achievements.
He said however despite the obvious benefits of regional integration, the level of public awareness about the integration process and opportunities available are still very low.
“The awareness campaign is in part a powerful demonstration of our determination to take EA to the people of Uganda to stimulate effective participation and the reaping of associated benefits. We want to change the mind-set of Ugandans and encourage them to think as global citizens.
This is a big market for Uganda’s goods, labour and capital in accordance with the EAC Customs Union and Common Market protocols,” ” Kabwegyere said.