The Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, H.E. William Ruto officially opened the 2nd edition of the East African Community Arts and Culture Festival (Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki Utamaduni Festival - JAMAFEST) yesterday at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) Nairobi, Kenya.
The Deputy President, who represented His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta, urged the Partner States, through the Council of Ministers, to nurture arts and culture in the region by developing appropriate policies, strategies and programmes that address the creative industry in a holistic manner and tap into the abundant talents in the region.
He said the EAC Partner States in line with the Common Market Protocol must develop strategies through which the region can benefit from this lucrative trade opportunity to realise development gains while fostering, protecting and promoting the creative economy in the region.
The Guest of Honour further urged the Council of Ministers to be passionate about Sports and Cultural sectors by allocating enough resources for championing activities that bring the East African common citizens together.
“These activities, which are really close to the hearts of our common citizens, include festivals of this nature as well as sports and games competitions in all major disciplines”.
His Excellency Ruto said convening and hosting the 2nd edition of JAMAFEST in Nairobi was a big leap forward in creating social understanding among the East African people, who have common identity, aspirations and destiny; adding that “We need to use our arts and culture to creatively tell the East African story”.
The Cabinet Secretary for East African Community Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, Hon. Phyllis Kandie, who represented the Council of Ministers, disclosed that in an effort to strengthen the capacity of cultural actors, the Community will be focusing on facilitating and supporting the harmonisation of cultural policies and legislations within the region in order to create a conducive policy environment for transfer of knowledge, exchange of expertise and best practices among cultural actors in both the private and public sectors.
The Cabinet Secretary reiterated that the Council of Ministers recognises the important role that Culture and Sports play towards reinforcing the spirit of East African unity and development and galvanising a passionate, visionary and broad participation among the East African people, reflecting the basic principle of a people-centered regional integration.
The Secretary-General of the East African Community Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera said that although Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki is a political project, the region’s unity would ultimately not be achieved through politics, but through culture.
Amb. Sezibera further noted that the bloc’s creative industry happens to be one of the most rapidly growing sectors in East Africa not only in terms of income generation (it is a 2 billion dollar industry), but also employment creation, as well as export trade. “Human creativity and innovation are the key drivers of the creation of wealth of households and countries in the 21st century. Our Community is no different”, asserted Amb. Sezibera.
The Secretary-General reiterated that culture enables development and contributes to the region’s national economies through investments in identity, innovation and creativity, adding that “culture can help build new development pathways for individuals, communities and countries - and, in contra distinction to growth based on natural resources, it contributes to equity - across gender, generations, regions, and countries”.
Contingents of cultural workers, artists from all the five Partner States of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda, and the Nairobi public are taking part in the week-long JAMAFEST under the theme; unleashing the economic potential of cultural and creative industries in the EAC. The festival website is: jamafest2015.eac.int.
The 4th East African Community University Students’ Debate on EAC regional integration is set for 7-8th September 2015 in Kampala, Uganda.
This year’s debate will focus on values, ethics and leadership which are critical in advancing the broad aims of the EAC integration with the youth as key stakeholders. These three virtues are vital in moulding the choices that the youth make by imparting in them the desired morals such as integrity and accountability that are crucial for an integrated East Africa.
The debate aims to, among other things, promote continuous youth participation in EAC integration issues; encourage networking among university students to enhance regional integration; prepare the youth for future leadership roles, and; to popularize the EAC integration agenda.
To propose or oppose the motion, six participants are drawn from public and private universities from each of the five Partner States. However, participation in the debate is limited to students who are in their second year at the university pursuing a degree.
Interested applicants with good analytical and communication skills, and a good command of English are encouraged to apply. The debate will be conducted in English.
The debating session will be in three sets, each for one hour whereby the proposing team and the opposing team will debate. There will be room for rebuttals as well as intervention by the audience, for which each team will respond to. Each debating session will be concluded by a wrap up by the panelist or the interveners.
The top two teams will have rebuttals so as to get the winning team. The final decision will be made by the judges after consultations with the interveners, the moderator and timekeepers.
The best debaters will be appointed as EAC Youth Ambassadors 2015 / 2016 with an obligation to spearhead peer-to-peer learning in their respective universities in collaboration with the EAC Secretariat, the East African Legislative Assembly and Ministries of EAC Affairs in the Partner States. There will be a gala dinner where cash prizes will be given to the best debaters and the winning team.
Representatives from academia, private sector, civil society, media and technocrats from the East African region will attending the event to listen to the debates and comment on the strength of the deliberations and also recommend a way forward for the debate.
The gala dinner which will be officiated by the Secretary-General of the EAC, Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera, will mark the climax of the debating forum.
The 2nd Edition of the East African Community Arts and Culture Festival (Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki Utamaduni Festival - JAMAFEST) kicked off with fanfare today at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya.
Contingents of cultural workers, artists from all the five Partner States of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda, and the Nairobi public taking part in the JAMAFEST Carnival, which entailed a procession through the streets of Nairobi City.
The carnival was flagged off by Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Culture and The Arts, Mr Patrick Omutia, at the Uhuru Park Dais and snaked through Kenyatta Avenue, Moi Avenue, Haile Selassie, Harambee Avenue, Parliament road, and back to KICC.
Uganda’s Minister of State for Culture and Family Affairs, Hon. Rukia Nakadama and the EAC Deputy Secretary-General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Jesca Eriyo, were among the notable participants who took part in the colourful procession.
His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to officially open the week-long festival tomorrow Tuesday, 4th August, 2015. He will be joined by the EAC Secretary-General, Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera, and the Ministers / Cabinet Secretaries responsible for EAC Affairs, and Sports and Culture from the five Partner States.
The theme of the 2015 festival is “Unleashing the economic potential of cultural and creative industries in the EAC”. The sub-themes are: Showcasing the EAC’s rich cultural heritage; Reflections and appreciation of EAC’s cultural and creative industry; Fusing the old and the current into one as we unravel the way forward; Sensitizing the youth as conveyors of our cultural heritage; and Celebrating our rich cultural heritage as a vehicle for achieving the EAC integration.
To achieve the theme and sub-themes, several live performances, exhibitions, and symposia have been lined. Live performance will include music, dance and movement, poetry, storytelling, drama, and acrobatics, among others. Popular traditional games within the region are on the list such as bao-ajua, kora and wrestling.
In light of economic empowerment, the festival has designated an area within the venue where local and participating artists are showcasing and selling their wares such as jewellery, clothing, curios, paintings, sculptures, and handcrafts. The festival website is: jamafest2015.eac.int.
The International Republican Institute (IRI) has pledged to increase its support for women and the youth within the East African Community so that they can participate more actively in leadership and the democratisation process in their countries.
IRI President Mark Green said that under the Women’s Democracy Network, the institute was seeking to provide assistance to women interested in running for political positions and mobilising communities.
Mr Green said IRI was also working with the youth under a new initiative - Generation Democracy - so that they can constructively participate in governance and democratisation pointing out that in most countries the youth were either helping older leaders to build a better world or fighting those in power.
Mr Green reaffirmed IRI’s commitment to support the nurturing of democracy all over the world, saying the US was keen to share its mistakes with nascent democracies so that the latter don’t repeat the same.
He described the EAC as a vast market which if reinforced by a good transportation network would also revitalise regional trade and open up a gateway to Central Africa which is largely unexploited.
The IRI President was speaking when he paid a courtesy call on the EAC Secretary-General (SG), Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera, at the EAC headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
In his remarks, Amb. Dr Sezibera thanked IRI for working closely with the EAC and the East African Local Government Association (EALGA) to improve local governance, effectiveness of decentralization policies and their implications in regional integration.
Dr Sezibera said the EAC was actively engaging women and the youth in its programmes and singled out the EAC Youth Platform, the Youth Ambassadors Programme and the Women in Business Programme. He added that the Women in Business Programme was meant to empower women economically by opening doors in business for them and assisting them financially.
He said good governance and democratisation were enshrined in the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC noting that a protocol on good governance was still under negotiation by the Partner States.
Dr Sezibera said significant progress had been recorded in the EAC region with goods beginning to move more freely in addition to the free movement of labour and persons. He disclosed that an East African e-passport was in the offing and could be launched by the end of this year.
The SG said the free movement of labour across the region had to be anchored on the harmonisation of curricula and education systems, adding that an East African Higher Education Area would be launched by the end of the year.
On infrastructure development, the SG said the Community was putting emphasis on railways, energy and ports.
Nigeria’s outgoing High Commissioner to Tanzania, Dr Ishaya Samaila Majambu, today paid a courtesy call on the East African Community Secretary-General (SG), Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera, at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Dr Majambu and Dr Sezibera discussed the increasing opportunities for intra- and inter-regional trade brought about by the establishment of regional economic communities (RECs) in Africa.
Dr Majambu hailed the many achievements made by the five EAC Partner States especially in the area of infrastructure development saying this would spur economic growth in the region, adding that it would be prudent for other RECs to borrow from EAC’s infrastructure development strategy.
The envoy called for increased exchange programmes and study tours between the EAC and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
On his part, Dr Sezibera emphasised the increasing collaboration between the EAC and ECOWAS. Dr Sezibera said the EAC was keen on what ECOWAS has attained in the area of financial integration.
Noting the establishment of a tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) between the EAC, South African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr Sezibera said he looked forward to the FTA linking up with ECOWAS and other RECs to form an African Continental FTA (CFTA).
The SG said the CFTA would be a turning point in that it would give African countries the opportunity to trade between themselves in addition to the global market.
Amb. Sezibera praised Nigeria and its citizens for their patriotism and national pride saying the West African country had made Africa proud.
“When things go wrong in Africa, we Africans are often quick to berate ourselves. Nigerians outside of Africa introduce themselves as Africans and are always ready to defend the continent,” said the SG.
A platform to connect farmers to grain buyers in the region was launched on 31st July 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. The platform, dubbed G-Soko, was developed by a Kenyan-based IT firm, Virtual City in partnership with the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and the Food Trade Eastern and Southern Africa Organization. G-Soko, the on-line trading platform, will now enable smallholder farmers in the East Africa to sell their produce at favourable prices.
Speaking at the launch of the platform, the Secretary-General of the East African Community, Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera commended EAGC for partnering with the Secretariat to implement the EAC Food Security Action Plan, which is the EAC strategy to achieve food security in the region.
The Secretary-General, who was represented by the Director for Productive Sectors, Mr Jean Baptiste Havugimana, also hailed the EAGC for the on-line initiative and pledged “EAC continued support in automating agricultural crops trading systems and processes to reduce commercialisation cost and all related challenges and bridge the gap between farmers, traders and consumers for increased food security in the region”.
Speaking at the same occasion, the Executive Director of EAGC, Mr Gerald Masila disclosed that G-Soko was part of a five-year trade enhancement and promotion programme in the region. He said linking rural food production zones in East Africa to urban consumption centres requires a well-functioning regional market and that by adhering to the system, farmers in the region will, among others, be able to access credit while waiting for prices to increase through pledging the electronic warehouse receipt with the banks and agro-dealers.
The farmers will also benefit from reduced post-harvest losses through access to professional storage, cleaning, drying and will benefit from improved prices discovery since many of them rely on farm-gate prices that deliver cash at lower prices.
As for Millers, G-Soko system guarantees availability of quality stocks; standardised and proven grading thus reducing need to carry out sampling to check quality.
The Director of Agriculture in the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kenya commended the initiative saying, “We have seen very positive changes in the breadth and depth of the EAC integration and this is encouraging as we all hope to reap the benefits of regional integration”.
The G-Soko is now operational in two of the EAC Partner States; Uganda and Kenya, and arrangements are under way to extend the system to Tanzania and Rwanda before the Grains Farmers Summit scheduled to take place in Rwanda in early October 2015.
Present at the G-Soko launch were, among others, government officials from the Republic of Kenya, Development Partners, the Director of Food Trade for East and Southern Africa, Representatives of Farmers Associations and certified grains warehouses from all the Partner States except Burundi.