The EAC and the different EAC-GIZ projects have been mainstreaming youth interventions to enhance innovation, skills, and engagement of youth in the region for many years.
The EAC Youth Policy and the related Action Plan provide an overarching framework to guide all projects focusing on the youth in the region. The EAC Secretariat and its Organs and Institutions have undertaken a series of interventions to ensure the meaningful involvement of the youth such as the establishment of the East African Youth Network (EAYN) as a platform for continuous dialogue with young people and the annual Secretary General’s Forum as a platform for the engagement of all citizens in the EAC integration process. The EAC supports the EAYN as an umbrella body for youth civil society organisations in the region through capacity building for the member organisation to promote the youth agenda, reviewing the EAC youth policy and establishing the East African Youth Council, which was already approved by the Council of Ministers.
At the level of joint projects between EAC and GIZ, various measures are being implemented to benefit youth in the region.
The programme Support to East African Integration (SEAMPEC II) focuses on youth engagement in regional and economic integration with a view to building ownership and harnessing the contribution of youth in the implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol. Youth unemployment challenges, the free movement of students, and cross-border education as well as the free trade in goods and services are addressed by the programme. Initiatives such as the “Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa” and the “Intra-Regional Trade Facility” supported small-scale youth-led business projects, increased the income of participating youth and women and enhanced access to gainful employment. The programme also facilitates youth participation in the regional integration process, enabling the youth to submit policy recommendations to the relevant decision-making institutions. SEAMPEC II will continue its support to youth participation in the regional value chain, AFCFTA and Trade as a cross cutting theme.
The Digital Skills for an Innovative East African Industry (dSkills@EA) project, improves and strengthens youth employment and innovation-related digital skills of young people in East African. The project has benefited youth through digital skills training, upskilling and capacity building The Center of Excellence (CENIT@EA), established at the Nelson Mandela Institution for Science and Technology (NM-AIST), has created a regional hub and space has for young ICT professionals to advance their skills through a practice-oriented Master’s Programme in Embedded and Mobile Systems (EMoS), with scholarships awarded to about 113 students from all six EAC Partner States. Over 150 young graduates were trained on Android Mobile applications development through the project’s digital skills accelerator programme. Over 1,000 young innovators received entrepreneurial training and capacity building through the project. Academia-industry collaboration initiatives, such as the Young Professionals Internship Programme and the Skills Match online platform for jobs, create new opportunities for students and graduates to connect to the job market.
The GIZ African Union African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Programme in collaboration with its partner project African Governance Architecture supported the You Lead Summit, an annual youth platform, in the AfCFTA Youth Inclusion Accelerator Project, a continental project at regional level, with the goal of creating awareness among young African entrepreneurs and mobilising key stakeholders to engage in the promotion and implementation of the AfCFTA.
The African Union Border Programme (GIZ-AUBP) has involved the EAC Youth Ambassadors in the formulation of the Transboundary Security Policy, including a plan for Youth Peace and Security on cross-border security as well the consultations on cross-border trafficking with a focus on child protection systems in Tanzania. The EAC Youth Ambassadors also participated in the AUBP's sensitisation activities on cross-border crime issues in addition to the rolling out of the COVID-19 support to border authorities. The AUBP project continues to train border authorities on child protection measures and to amplify the voices of youth on cross-border governance.
Sustainable regional integration depends on participation of the youth. At the same time, young people can benefit immensely from regional integration through enhanced socio-economic development, and the free movement of people, and workers, cross-border trade and increased education opportunities.