EAC Secretary-General receives credentials from Swiss and Turkish ambassadors
The East African Community Secretary-General, Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera, today received credentials from the Ambassador and Representative of Switzerland to the EAC, Mr Arthur Mattli.
Speaking at the function, Amb. Mattli said that his appointment was out of his government’s commitment to deepen its co-operation with the EAC. Amb. Mattli noted that the EAC had made significant achievements including promoting regional trade and infrastructure development, adding that Switzerland was keen on providing support to drive the integration process forward. The Swiss envoy said his country was following the integration process closely and urged the EAC to engage the youth in their projects so that they can embrace the idea of regional integration.
He said the EAC could particularly collaborate with Switzerland in the area of vocational training which he noted has been his country’s key to economic growth.
“Switzerland’s secret to economic growth is vocational training. We have the smallest country in Europe, which is also the least populated and the lowest education per capita in terms of university graduates in Europe. However, we have the highest level of patents and innovations. This shows that you need not have the highest number of university graduates in order to innovate”, said Amb. Mattli. Amb. Mattli said that vocational training in Switzerland is through public-private partnerships, adding that education must be meaningful to any economy.
“Lessons must be practical so innovations start very early. Investors want skilled people, not just people entering the job market”, he said, adding that for vocational training to be taken seriously, artisans must be given as much respect as highly educated people.
In his remarks, Amb. Dr Sezibera said the youth were a critical target for the EAC and disclosed that the Community had appointed youth ambassadors who were doing an excellent job promoting the integration process.
Dr Sezibera said the youth should not only buy into the integration but should be able to benefit from the process. The SG said the Community’s Education department was currently working on framework for vocational training in the region, which would address issues of training, qualifications and certification.
He, however, expressed concern that most Partner States had moved away from vocational training towards university education which is more academic rather than being practical.
Dr Sezibera urged Switzerland to consider supporting the EAC through the Partnership Fund, a basket fund which he said had enabled the Community to make significant achievements in various sectors.
The Secretary-General also called for Swiss support in upcoming negotiations between the EAC and the European Free Trade Area.
Meanwhile, the EAC Secretary-General Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera also received credentials from the Turkish Ambassador, Ms Yasemin Eralp, at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Present at the function were EAC Deputy Secretaries-General, Dr Enos Bukuku (Planning and Infrastructure) and Mr Liberat Mfumukeko (Finance and Administration), as well as Mr Peter Kiguta, Director-General (Customs and Trade).