JOURNALISTS have been urged to scale up coverage of the East African Community (EAC) with the view to increase peoples' awareness and create an informed society on regional integration issues.
"The flow of information about the EAC integration is sadly a missing link in our regional integration," said Ambassador Jeremy Ndayiziga, an expert on regional integration and resource person, while opening a three-day workshop. The Ambassador exhorted journalists, adding that the Fourth Estate must foster understanding and unity for mutual successes and development.
There is need for the media to act as champions of EAC integration, educate the citizenry on the integration process in order to realise a people-centered integration, he emphasised. Jenerali Ulimwengu, a veteran journalist, lawyer and commentator, said that the ideal of an East African integration must not be lost.
"The ideal can be 100 years...let's not lose that vision," he said. Politicians, he said, could manipulate those ideals for their own reasons, but the majority committed East Africans must reject attempts to push back progress. Ulimwengu, who is a resource person at the workshop, stressed that young East Africans, must use their skills and knowledge to give fresh hope to the region and its people.
"We should not be afraid, especially the young people, to reject negative regional integration sentiments," he said. Sukhdev Chhatbar, a media expert at the EAC Secretariat and training coordinator, is confident that with the type of capacity being given to the media, it would help journalists to better inform and educate the citizenry on regional integration.
Kimei arap Kemei, a participant from the Citizen TV, Kenya, told the East African News Agency that the EAC needs to open doors to the media and provide them with important information in order for them pass on the same information to the citizens of the five member states.
"This would help educate the citizens on the importance of having a united EAC region," he said. The workshop is designed to empower journalists to play a critical role in monitoring the implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol. It has brought together journalists, editors and photojournalists from the five member states discussed various issues affecting the implementation of the Common Market Protocol, including challenges and possible solutions.
The workshop was organised by the EAC Secretariat in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). As part of the network of trained EAC journalists, participants will have the opportunity to be part of a regional workshop between 10 and 11 December, that will allow selected stakeholders from private sector organizations, civil society organisations and the EAC to consultative work towards realising the Community's objectives and promote a people-centered integration process', particularly on the implementation of the Common Market Protocol and how it is viewed by the private sector and the CSOs in the region.