Ministry targets youth in EAC Week integration drive


Kanimba speaks at the news conference. (Nadege Imbabazi.)

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs is looking to more youth involvement in regional integration agenda, a top official said yesterday, at the launch of the latest edition of EAC Week.

François Kanimba, the Minister for Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs, said this yesterday during a news conference to launch the seventh EAC Week.
The campaign will run under the theme: “Regional Integration: A Necessity for Development.”

“There was a general agreement at EAC-level that the focus should be on how regional integration is a key driver for economic development. This is the key message wherever we are going to go, particularly when we talk to the youth,” Kanimba told journalists in Kigali.

“This message will be emphasised as a mobilisation tool for the youth to maximise their potential to contribute to the regional integration process. Youth can contribute in different ways.”

Held annually in all EAC Partner States during the month of November, the EAC Week aims to increase awareness among citizens on the EAC integration agenda.
The three-fold objective of this EAC Awareness Week is: updating Rwandans on key achievements under EAC integration, promoting awareness on key ongoing projects and programmes, and addressing the public’s concerns and questions on the bloc’s integration agenda.

The minister added: “When you look at the skill development programmes we are implementing, particularly in Rwanda, skills are a fundamental ingredient to realise benefits of regional integration process. Skilled people can move around and take advantage of the existence of business opportunities here and there.”

“In Rwanda, we have an incredible emerging entrepreneurship spearheaded by our youth in areas such as ICT. This is an area where a young entrepreneur can very quickly benefit from regional integration. These are just a few examples we are going to highlight when we talk to them.”

The idea of the EAC Week was adopted at the 20th meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers in March 2010.

Among other activities, today, the ministry has scheduled a youth forum with the youth in Musanze District which will be followed by a border sensitisation event at the Rwanda-Uganda border in Kagitumba, where a high-level delegation from both countries will interact with the border community on Thursday.

The main objective of Thursday’s activity, the minister explained, will be to jointly examine ways how to further boost cross-border trade in the area.

Finally, on Friday, the programme will be concluded with an EAC awareness festival, to be held in Kigali.

Last year, the sixth edition of the EAC Awareness Week, held under the theme, “Eight Years of Rwanda in the EAC: Deepening the Regional Integration Agenda,” focused on students and border communities.

Formal trade with EAC

According to statistics from the ministry, Rwanda’s exports to the bloc declined by 10.3 per cent last year, from $142.45 million to $127.76 million

However, it is noted, an increase in exports to the EAC is forecasted to 10 per cent this year and 15 per cent in 2017.

Last year, Rwanda’s imports from the Community totaled $121.62 million, representing 25 per cent of the country’s total imports, eight per cent lower than the previous year.