Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

East Africa: Uganda to Host EAC Forum

UGANDA will host the 3rd East African Community (EAC) Secretary General's Annual Forum for Private Sector, Civil Society and other interest groups in Entebbe from September 12 to 13, this year.

According to a press release availed to the independent East African News Agency (EANA), this was among the issues deliberated during the three-day preparatory meeting of members of the Regional Dialogue Committee drawn from the partner states' Ministries responsible for EAC affairs, EAC Secretariat, private sector, civil society organisations, and other interest groups held in Mwanza, Tanzania over the weekend.

The Dialogue Committee adopted "EAC: My Home, My Business" as the theme of this year's forum. The first EAC-SG Forum was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in December 2012 and the second in Nairobi, Kenya in October, last year.

The forum aims at providing a platform for regular dialogue between the EAC Secretary General and the private sector, civil society and other interest groups on how to improve the EAC integration process.

"The purpose of the forum is to allow selected stakeholders and the EAC to consult and work towards realising the community's objectives," Ms Mary Makoffu, EAC Director for Social Sectors, told the delegates in her opening remarks.

Briefing the delegates on behalf of the EAC Deputy Secretary in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Ms Jessica Eriyo, she said that the East African Business Council (EABC), as agreed during the 2013 forum, will take the lead role in planning and organizing this year's forum in collaboration with the EAC Secretariat.

She appealed for greater support to the planning and execution process from all the stakeholders of the forum. In her opening remarks, Chairperson of the meeting, Ms Agnes Sila from Kenya's Ministry of East African Community Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, said that the annual SG's forum was critically important in deepening regional integration.

"The event ensures direct dialogue with the EAC Chief Executive in vigorously pursuing our regional agenda," she told the experts from partner states. She observed that many important issues were raised during the second forum and there was need to take steps to move to the next level.

Mr Andrew Luzze, EABC Executive Director, assured the meeting that all would be done to ensure that the 3rd forum becomes a success. "This calls for strengthened collaboration and team work from all stakeholders," he underscored.

The delegates conducted a sensitization workshop to a crowd of Mwanza fishermen and small traders held at the Tampere Park, in the heart of Mwanza city, highlighting the enormous benefits of the EAC integration and the need to protect and preserve Lake Victoria.

The event saw Mwanza participants and delegates engage in constructive and objective dialogue on how to widen and deepen EAC integration.

The occasion was spiced up with local traditional dances and other entertainment. At the close of the workshop, the participants and delegates, led by the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation, Mr Charles Njoroge, cleaned the park as part of its commitment to engage in community work and be exemplary in maintaining a clean and healthy environment.

The meeting and the community initiative were facilitated by the German International Development Agency (GIZ).

The forum is guided by the principles of cooperation for mutual benefit, trust, goodwill, active and constructive participation, inclusivity and respect for diverse views

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