A number of students at the National University of Rwanda (NUR) support the formation of the East African Political Federation. The government is also conducting national consultations on regional integration and political federation.
According to Article 5 (2) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, “the partner States undertake to establish among themselves as in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty, a Customs Union, a Common Market, subsequently a Monetary Union and later a Political Federation.”
The students who talked to The New Times believe that there will be many benefits accruing from the political federation including more jobs. Below are the responses.
Geoffrey Gasasira, the Vice President of the East African Community Students Union; says that regional integration will benefit people of all walks of life in the region, including students.
“We expect free movement of students within the community. Students will be able to tap into the numerous education opportunities being offered in countries within the community,” said Gasasira, who is also NUR’s former Guild President.
“It will be easy to share educational materials, harmonisation of syllabi and exchange of lecturers to boost education quality in countries facing shortages of the qualified teaching staff in different fields,” added Gasasira, noting that the setting up of different students’ clubs will provide a forum for addressing regional challenges like corruption and HIV/AIDS.
Eddie Tushabe, a fourth year student from the Faculty of Economics and Management, said that full integration will mean among other things unlimited job opportunities beyond Rwanda.
“Rwandans will no longer be limited by artificial barriers like borders in their pursuit for employment. It will be easy to get jobs in the region if one has the necessary skills. This will contribute to quality service delivery,” said Tushabe. He added that integration will provide a forum for regional leaders to address challenges faced within the region.
“We shall also benefit from the cultural diversity that comes with integration. This will lead to peaceful co-existence and good neighbourliness,” said Tushabe.
Connie Nakure, a fourth year student from the Faculty of Economic and Management said that integration will contribute to more political stability in the region. It will provide for a more peaceful resolution to political differences thus contribute to good governance, democracy and political stability.
“We also expect to have abundant cheap goods on the market as producers benefit from economies of scale and bigger markets,” said Nakure.
Louise Umutoni, a first year student in the Faculty of Law, said that integration will open the gates for Rwandans to look beyond and explore new opportunities.
“We will gain exposure to the rest of the world. This will create the much needed change in the way people conduct their business,” she said.
For Rita Umurungi, a first year student in the Faculty of Law, integration will mean scrapping of the dreaded student Visas.
“We expect to benefit from free movement of students in pursuit of study opportunities. The bottlenecks to education in the region will be done a way with after the integration,” said Umurungi.
Sandra Uwimbabazi, a first year Law student said that integration will mean increased trade opportunities because of the bigger market.
“Free movement of people, goods and labour would spur economic growth and well being of the people in the region. Countries would also learn from their much developed neighbours,” she said.
For Frank Rukundo, a fourth year student in the Faculty of Economics and Management, integration would mean paying of uniform tuition in the regional universities thus enabling students to study outside their home countries.
“Final year students would also be able to do their internship programmes in the regional countries without any limitations leading to broadening of experiences,” said the final year student cum music artist.