A three-day sensitization workshop about the role of the East African Legislative Assembly(EALA) in the Integration process of the East African Community(EAC) opened in Nyamira, where leaders from the county of met to chart the way forward about the EAC Integration process.

Principal Secretary in the State Department of East African Affairs Mr. John O. Konchellah called on the three counties of Nyamira, Kisii and Migori to seize the opportunities that arise as the integration process unfolds.

He said, leaders should not spare any opportunity after sensitizing the top leadership of Nyamira County as part of our strategy to empower counties with the necessary information to enable them seize the available opportunities to benefit the people of Kenya. “We hope and believe that this forum will serve as a platform to energize you stakeholders to join hands with the National Government in order to create a critical mass of enlightened and enthusiastic leadership on EAC integration at the County level,’’ he said.

He expressed hope that the forum will afford stakeholders in Nyamira County to interact with Members of EALA and by so doing get their voices heard at the regional level during legislation of laws. He disclosed that members of EALA Kenya Chapter have toured various counties to listen to the people of Kenya in order to get their views and concerns related regional integration process. “It is my hope that this feedback will form the basis for Kenya’s legislative agenda in the regional Parliament.”

The Principal Secretary, who was opening the workshop in a speech read on his behalf by the Acting Director, Social Affairs Mr. Kennedy Nyambati, asked the Nyamira County to take the advantage accruing from the expanded East African market to sell its goods and services.

Mr. Konchellah said that the centerpiece of devolution is decentralization of power and resources from the centre to the periphery with the ultimate objective of empowering the people at the grassroots to determine their own course of development. And this is where regional integration interfaces with devolution. Regional integration seeks to empower regional blocs to leverage on their unity of purpose to spur development. To this end there is a nexus between devolution and regional integration. The two complement each other as the fulcrum of empowerment and development, he stressed.

EALA Chairman, Kenyan Chapter Hon. Kanai Ole Saole said one of the reasons that led to the collapse of the pioneer EAc has been attributed to, among others, the failure of the leaders to involve the citizens of three countries then on the activities of the Community.

To address this challenge, he said, the revived community embedded in the Treaty for the Establishment of the Community the principle of a people centered and private sector led EAC integration process. This means that the people of East Africa have to be consulted on the integration process in order for them to have their say.

Sensitization and awareness creation has therefore been part of the responsibility with which the Ministry responsible for EAC affairs and EALA have been trying to realize through sensitization and awareness creation. So far a number of Counties have been reached towards this effort.

During this sensitization exercise, EALA members not only updated the leadership the progress made in EAC integration but also had the opportunity to hear from them their expectations about both the government and EALA as they were part of the process towards Integration process.