9 February 2013

East Africa: EAC

Kenyan Law Student Taps into Social Media to Spread EAC Integration Message

George Magunga, a 21-year-old Kenyan law student at the University of Nairobi who has a great passion for journalism recently emerged the best blogger in the just concluded East Africa Community (EAC) Inter-University Social Media Campaign.

His blog post, Viva East Africa emerged top after beating other sixteen bloggers who were competing under the same category in the three-month campaign implemented by the Ministry of East Africa Community.

Dubbed, Connect, Vuka Border, the challenge aimed at creating awareness among university students on the process, benefits and opportunities of EAC integration process - by utilising the commonly used social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

For George, the campaign rekindled his hopes of realizing his dream to become a journalist and share his thoughts about integration with other students and the world.

Having grown in Kisumu, he has witnessed how it was challenging in the early nineties to import goods from Uganda to the extent of the businesspersons turning to his father, a former Customs Officer at Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for support. "I vividly recall how on several occasions they would beg my father to sneak goods from Uganda into Kenya against his will," he notes.

He believes that by embracing integration, free trade and movement of persons within EAC partner states, which include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, will soon be a reality.

"I look forward to that day when I will encounter no hustle at the borders heading to any of the EAC countries," notes George.

According to the judges, George's blog was selected based on creativity, relevance to the benefits and opportunities presented by the EAC integration process and how widely the blog was shared across social media platforms.

Viva East Africa employs a tourism theme to share various stories about East Africa whereby George utilises creative visuals like that of the white sandy beaches of Mapenzi beach in Zanzibar, the Kiboko Bay of Lake Victoria, the land of a thousand hills in Burundi and the wildebeest migration of the Mara, to help bring the East Africa story alive.

"This information is founded on my travels around Kenya, my interaction with people who have been to places I am yet to visit, and my acquaintance with Google. I wish I had the chance to travel around East Africa," he adds.

An aspiring lawyer and a former accounting student at Strathmore University, George has vowed to keep spreading the integration message to the youth through writing. His new laptop, awarded to him by the Connect, Vuka Border Challenge, is currently his greatest possession that reawakens the dream to become a journalist. He describes it as his girlfriend and part of him.

As he looks forward to his day in court, George still wishes for an opportunity to write for the mainstream media. When he is not banging words to conjure a story, earphones are plugged in his ears listening to music, dancing or reading the work of his favourite Kenyan author Jackson Biko. His greatest presence is in his other blog The Real G Inc (www.therealginc.wordpress.com) where he tells stories about campus, people and lifestyle in general.

"I write from experience - whether mine or other peoples' experiences. I think the best stories are those told from a first-hand point of view," he says.

Currently undertaking a Bachelor of Law degree at the University of Nairobi, Parklands Campus, George is the Vice-President of the Kenya Law Students Society as well as Associate Editor of the Campus Chronicles magazine.

EA countries exhorted to ensure transparency in oil sector

By James Gashumba

East African News Agency

EANA- East African countries with rich oil deposits have been urged to strictly implement legal frameworks that will ensure transparency so as to benefit from the expected production.

Thorbjorn Gaustadsaether, the Norwegian ambassador accredited to Rwanda but based in Uganda, made the remarks while closing the East African Oil and Gas forum in Kampala.

Noting that transparency would ensure equitable distribution of resources, Gaustadsaether observed that the development of the petroleum sector in the region will require much foreign investment.

"Steps must be taken to secure budget discipline, develop a more sophisticated financial and banking system and competitive auctioning processes. They must establish predictable legal and regulatory frameworks," he said.

Transparency coupled with checks and balances, he added, were the only avenue through which gross misuse of revenue from the oil sector can be detected and minimised.

The Global Race for African Oil report says East Africa will be the world's most important energy producer in 2040, during which trillions of dollars worth of oil will be purchased with most of it going to China.

There have been oil discoveries in Uganda as well as natural gas deposits in Tanzania, creating a lot of excitement among oil companies.

Kenya is also close to striking substantial oil deposits.

The ambassador said no East African state is fully compliant with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which aims at building critical trust in the ability of governments in the region to handle oil and gas resources on behalf of their people.

"Promises of milk and honey from the oil and gas sector are often made. Expectations are sky high, yet the enormous development needs are well-known and glaring, Gaustadsaether said.

He added that the risk of disappointment and frustration over missing the revenue part is high, as is the risk of rising tension and conflict.

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