The East African Community (EAC) has acquired a regional parliamentary institute (EAPI), a training facility expected to harness capacities and narrow the skills gap of parliamentarians and staff in quest to further strengthen the integration process.
The institute was launched Friday by Martin Ngoga, the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) in Nairobi where it will be located.
Speaking at the official launch, Ngoga, underscored the importance of the institute’s presence in the region, stressing it would help drive the integration process and provide a valuable link between people within the region and beyond.
He noted that the institute would provide an adequate base of knowledge on legislative matters to Members of Parliament and staff who at times come from different backgrounds when they join parliaments.
“The launch of the EAPI is definitely an indication of the total commitment to the integration dispensation by (regional) parliaments and by yourselves. It is only befitting to recognise each and every one of you for the support you have personally and collectively accorded and extended to the EAPI,” Ngoga said.
The launch of EAPI follows the enactment of the East African Parliamentary Institute Bill, 2011, which provides for the legal framework of its establishment.
The EAPI Act, among other things, establishes a mechanism for capacity and skills development to promote professionalism through establishment of the institute.
The speaker lauded the EAC Heads of State for assenting to the Bill, whose operationalisation now sets basis for motion of the objectives of the Institute.
According to the Act, the regional speakers form the Board of Trustees of the new institution shall be chaired by the EALA Speaker while the Clerk of the regional assembly shall oversee the activities of its Governing Council.
At the recent 38th Meeting of the Council of Ministers, the matter of an institutional structure was discussed and, according to Ngoga, the Board of Trustees shall promptly propel forward the administrative framework to make EAPI fully operational.
In his remarks, Kenneth Lusaka, Speaker of Senate of Kenya, called for capacity development of legislators, saying it remained critical in ensuring effective service delivery to parliamentary leadership, legislators and the electorate.
The Kenyan speaker called for collective effort on the part of parliaments and all other stakeholders towards offering sustained commitment and unity of purpose.
The Vice President of the Senate of Rwanda, Jeanne d’Arc Gakuba, hailed the inception of the Institute as visionary and said the Parliament of Rwanda was committed to ensuring it is fully operational.
The idea for EAPI was initially mooted in 2001 as a joint venture between the State University of New York (SUNY), the National Assemblies of the Partner States and EALA as well as the United States International University (USIU) and initially funded by FORD Foundation.
Under the new arrangement, parliaments from across the bloc are to largely fund the institution, a move hailed as key in its sustainability.