ARUSHA, Tanzania – East African Community’s (EAC) member states on Monday called for enough political space for young people to actively take part in the regional decision-making body so that their voices can be easily heard.
Charles Njoroge, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation, made the call when speaking at the first High Level EAC Youth Ambassadors Dialogue on Regional Integration 2018. The theme is “Harnessing young people’s participation in the political process.”
Held in Arusha, the EAC headquarters, the dialogue brought on board 80 youth from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
The two-day dialogue is meant to bridge the information gap about the EAC integration and foster their participation in accelerating the integration through knowledge and experience sharing.
“It is time for member countries to actively engage youth in different platforms related to EAC. This is an important group when it comes to the regional integration agenda,” he said.
Njoroge encouraged the young people to explore opportunities available in the trading bloc, which has a population of about 130 million and about 56 percent are youth.
Dan Kazungu, Kenyan High Commissioner in Tanzania, described the youth as agent of change, stressing they need to be effectively engaged on the EAC integration process.
Evance Ayo, one of the participants of the forum, also indicated the need for governments to allot space for youth to have their own representation at the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
“This will make us benefit from the regional integration process,” said Ayo, who is the EAC Youth Ambassador from Tanzania.
According to him, youth in the trading bloc face similar challenges such as unemployment, and restrictions in movement of labour from one country to another.
“But, if we’re being represented in EALA, some of those challenges would have been addressed. That’s why we see the need for us to be represented in the regional decision-making body so that our concerns be heard,” said James Tayebwa, another participant, who is from Uganda.
“The current system used to get members of EALA is expensive that an ordinary youth cannot afford,” a participant from Kenya, Robi Chache said, suggesting the need for countries to actively engage the youth in the regional integration agenda because of their importance in driving the trading bloc to the next level.