The East African Community (EAC) is one of the well off trading blocs whose regional integration efforts are bearing fruit and advancement in IT are playing a central role, including propagation of mobile phones.
The trading bloc has already worked on a Customs Union—the first regional integration milestone and critical foundation of the EAC, which has been in force since 2005.
The bloc has also finalized the Common Market protocol that allows free movement of goods, people, labour, services and capital from one Partner State.
It is also well underway to pass rights of establishment and residency without restrictions across the EAC.
The trading bloc is now working on a Monetary Union—an important stage in the regional integration process. After that, the EAC Partner States envisage coming together to form a super-state under a single political government.
But, a challenge remains, how much are East Africans informed of what is happening in the trading bloc?
To address this challenge, the EAC Secretariat has turned to no other service but that of mobile phone advancements.
The EAC Secretariat has unveiled an EAC Mobile Application version 3.2 to disseminate news, information and reports on a timely basis about the current state of affairs across the region.
Speaking at the launch of the regional communication platform, EAC Secretary General Dr. Richard Sezibera, hailed the EAC Youth Ambassadors’ Platform, the architect of the application, for the brilliant innovation.
Dr. Sezibera singled out Otim Brian Joseph, Jacob Eyeru, Leku Dennis and Esemu Herbert from the EAC Youth Ambassadors Platform-Uganda Chapter for developing the first-ever EAC mobile application product and making accessible globally.
Known as the ‘EAC in the Palm’ the app is free, easy to use and readily available for download. It is the EAC’s new tool to disseminate information as well as track reports on development programs in the region.
“This will increase information outreach and sensitization on the EAC integration process in real time,” said Sezibera.
At the launch ceremony, Otim, the Head of the EAC Mobile Application Project at the EAC Youth Platform, outlined some of the benefits of the product to include;
Prompt information outreach to all citizens of the community and the rest of the world through individual smartphones thus advancing the “one to one” sensitization efforts of the Community and rebranding EAC on the global social network by having information on EAC activities that is updated on the website available to the public in a real time via the application.
The EAC app also serves to enhance people-centred integration through its interactive chat module.
Through this module, the app is increasing the involvement of citizens in informative capacity building discussions regardless of nationality, age, ethnicity, tribe and religion.
Owora Richard Othieno, the Head of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at the EAC Headquarters also expressed his satisfaction with the application noting;
“The world today has high-tech information dissemination channels to fast-track market and stakeholder interactions.
To this end, technological innovations are being adopted at an unprecedented scale and speed, particularly by over-the-top players and this should be no exception for the EAC Secretariat.”
The EAC application is now accessible for all with smartphones on the via the Google play store.
Once one types in East African Community in the search box the application by SONET will be displayed for download.
The new comer to the EAC is South Sudan which was officially welcomed earlier this month at the Heads of States Summit in Arusha bringing the number of countries in the East African Community to six -Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and now S. Sudan.
The EAC is home to 145.5 million citizens, of which 22 per cent is an urban population.
With a land area of 1.82 million square kilometres and a combined Gross Domestic Product of USD 147.5 billion (EAC Statistics for 2015) its realization bears great strategic and geopolitical significance with numerous prospects for the renewed and reinvigorated EAC.
The work of the EAC is guided by its Treaty which established the Community.
It was signed on 30 November 1999 and entered into force on 7 July 2000 following its ratification by the original three Partner States - Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Burundi acceded to the EAC Treaty on 18 June 2007 and became full Members of the Community with effect from 1 July 2007.