The three county program kicked off in Mbale,Vihiga County and officiated by Moses Akaranga,the County Governor flagged by the County Commissioner Madam Pauline Dola and Deputy Governor Caleb Omaswaki. The Governor thanked EALA under the chair of Ms.Nancy Abisai for honoring the County as a key stakeholder in the integration journey. He observed that EAC has made tremendous strides which every citizen ought to be informed in order to utilize the opportunities provided by the 160 Million citizens across the six partner states.
Akaranga pointed at the free tourist visa across Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, free movement of goods, labour and services as very key to the business community and a stride towards the regional economic growth. He said that the use of Identification card as a travel document demonstrated political will across the region that would impact even the lowest in the business including vendors and boda boda riders. The Governor observed the significant role of the County Governments to the national and regional development, and appealed to the legislators to escalate this program to the County Assemblies who bear the burden of making laws in the devolved units.
The EALA members procedurally elucidated on the four integration pillars; Customs Union, Common Market Protocol, Monetary Union and the ultimate Political Confederation. They gave clear guidelines on the opportunities provided to Kenyan entrepreneurs, professionals and workers on the business, employment and consultancy opportunities available beyond the Kenyan borders and in the other Partner States of the EAC.
Addressing the participants at the Kakamega Golf Club which hosted the Kakamega County gathering, the EALA (K) Chapter Chair, Ms. Nancy Abisai indicated that the Kenyan Chapter of the Regional Assembly was committed to reaching all Kenyans at their respective Counties to explain the benefits, opportunities, and status of the EAC integration agenda, and how best those opportunities can benefit them.
“The EAC anecdote is affluent and bears colossal value to the citizens of East Africa. It’s our core mandate to tell our people, and ensure they properly understand and participate directly and profitably in the integration process,” the EALA MP said when the team paid a courtesy call on Kakamega County Governor, Hon Wyclife Oparanya.
The members said that EAC integration aims to have enhanced East African trade and economic development by promoting cross border trade, attracting Continental and global market for East African goods and services and hence making the region a leading economic hub. They made a passionate plea to County Governments to consider empowering small scale traders, vendors, boda boda riders and artisans for regional trade fairs like Nguvu Kazi exhibitions, JAMAFEST, women in Business forums which provides a great platform not only for an enlarged market but also get best practices and new ideas from across the region.
On his part, Siaya County Governor Conelius Rasanga lauded the sensitization initiative, but maintained that there was need for concerted efforts and collaborative approach to ensure all especially, Kenyans who produce goods and who had very limited market connections due to lack of the necessary information on accessing the regional markets. He noted that most citizens were still unaware of the EAC, and even most of those who knew about the regional bloc were still unaware of the available business and investment opportunities that they could exploit. He cited the fisheries industries that thrive in the County saying an opened market and relaxed cross border trade rules would boost the locals.
EALA Kenya Chapter Members Sarah Bonaya, Mumbi Ngaru, Zein Abubakar Zein and Saoli ole Nkanae formed part of the team of facilitators during the sensitization forum.