EAST African countries should promote the use of Kiswahili in most transactions to speed up implementation of regional trade protocols, a member of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), said.
"Let us embrace Swahili in all business transactions, in labelling products, trading as well as in other social economic and political activities," said Ms Shy-Rose Bhanji of Tanzania."It is not enough to leave the business of promoting Swahili to media houses or academic institutions alone," she said in an interview to the 'Daily News'.
She underscored the importance of having the integration process that is people-centred and people-driven to ensure speedy and sustainable social and economic growth in the region, with the combined population of over 130 million. Ms Bhanji said much as there was increased volume in intra-EAC trade, the levels were still unsatisfactorily low involving a few companies and individuals.
"Trade is key to integration and people in East Africa, both men and women, young and old, must all play their part," she said. Inaugurating the EALA in Nairobi, earlier this month, President Mwai Kibaki, expressed concern over the pace of regional integration and urged the assembly to facilitate speedy process.
"Since the establishment of EAC, we have passed and signed important protocols and Partner States have made various commitments with regard to integration. However, in their implementation, we have not moved at the pace our citizens desire. I believe this assembly has the right and duty to hold us more accountable in implementing these commitments, so that we deliver in a meaningful way to our citizens."
In the speech the Kenyan leader underscored the importance of environmental management and sustainable agricultural policies to mitigate the effects of climate change. "Our region continues to experience periodic droughts, floods, natural disasters and food shortages. In part, this is due to effects of climate change and poor management of the environment.
"The need to sustainably manage our natural resources, many of them shared, could not be made more forcefully than by these periodic challenges," he explained.