A study conducted in June this year showed that 44 per cent of Rwandans understand what EAC means and are aware of the opportunities that come with the integration process, Innocent Safari, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of East African Community Affairs (MINEAC) has said.
Safari was speaking at the launch of the East African Community Week yesterday.
The week, which will run from November 17 to 21, aims at rallying residents within the regional bloc toward understanding and supporting regional integration projects.
Flavia Salafina, Information, Education and Communication Specialist at MINEAC, said the study gave insights on what Rwandans expect from the integration process.
“After getting peoples’ views and feedback, we got clues on which approaches would be appropriate to make Rwandans aware of the integration benefits and opportunities. Those approaches include open talks, use of various media outlets and our website to inform them on what is going on as regards to integration,” she said.
“Seven years since Rwanda joined EAC, about $100 millions have been invested in the country by investors from the other partner states,” Safari said.
He said the use of Identity Cards for travel has eased free movements of people, goods and services between Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.
As a result, Safari said, the free movement, implemented from January, saw 831,236 Rwandans travel to Kenya and Uganda between January and September.
MINEAC officials said they want to focus on the private sector to ensure they accrue more benefits from the integration process as well as help the bloc achieve its goals.
Safari said EAC will also monitor the ongoing preparations for the implementation of the Monetary Union and also further deepen the implementation of the Common Market to allow free movement within the region.
The Monetary Union protocol was signed last year but is due to be implemented in 2023. The union will see the five partner states use a single currency.
“We gave partner states enough time to prepare adequately so as to avoid the same issues as those that affected Eurozone. That’s why there will first be an EAC Constitution, building capacities of various key institutions, setting up EAC Bank, and statistics and surveillance agencies as well as harmonisation of financial operations in the region,” he said.
The fifth EAC week is conducted under the theme; “EAC Regional integration: Benefits and Opportunities.”