ARUSHA - The Secretary General of the East African Community, Dr Richard Sezibera, has said that the media has a critical role to get the region to embrace regional integration with passion, dedication and commitment, for the benefit of the present and future generations of East Africans.
He said this during the launch of a five-day training workshop on regional integration which has brought together 25 journalists from the region, with each country represented by five members.
The training is being held in Arusha, the Tanzanian town that also serves as the headquarters of the regional bloc.
The workshop is organised by the EAC Secretariat in conjunction with the German Technical Cooperation, GIZ.
Sezibera commended GIZ for its support towards building the capacity of media practitioners in the region.
He said that EAC is today increasingly challenged to achieve and demonstrate greater efficiency and effectiveness as well as more visibility of its activities, achievements and competitiveness in the region and beyond.
“The EAC therefore attaches great importance to the role of the media in promoting awareness, discourse and involvement of the broad range of stakeholders in the integration process,” he said.
The training aims at enhancing journalists’ understanding of the concept of regional integration in general and EAC policies particularly to improve how to report on EAC matters.
After the training, participants are expected to be equipped with more skills and information related to the EAC integration process and progress to ensure better coverage in their respective countries and highlight its impact on the community.
“I hope to learn more about the integration process, get useful documents and establish key contacts within the EAC,” said Agathonique Barakukuza, a journalist from Burundi.
The treaty establishing the regional grouping stresses that the EAC should be people-centred, which, according to Sezibera, can only be achieved with a media passionate about the integration process.
Sezibera is optimistic that once people are aware of the Community, see it and feel its presence, they would appreciate and acknowledge its benefits and prospects more.
“They would get increasingly interested in the Community and participate in its projects and programs as well as apply positive pressure on the leadership to ensure the viability and sustainability of the Community,” he said.