May 10th, 2023

Civil Society Engagement is Key for Inclusive Regional Integration – EAC-GIZ joins the East African Civil Society Organizations’ Forum Summit (GIZ)

From 3 to 5 May 2023, EAC and GIZ jointly participated in the East African Civil Society Organization Forum (EACSOF) Summit in Arusha, Tanzania. The Forum’s was themed “Harnessing citizens’ prosperity in EAC and AfCFTA integration processes”.

The Summit provided space for civil society organizations (CSOs) from various fields to connect and deliberate on topics such as health, governance and democracy, trade and investment, peace and security, agriculture development, climate change, and gender and youth engagement.

In his opening remark, Mr. David Onen, Principal Political Affairs Officer, EAC, representing the EAC Secretary General, Dr. Peter Mathuki, noted that the EAC integration was people-centred and involved the engagement of a wide range of stakeholders. He appealed to the EAC Partner States to provide an enabling environment for active CSO engagement at national level as a bedrock for their sustained participation and robust engagement on regional integration matters.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union development partners, the EU Ambassador in Tanzania, Mr. Manfredo Fanti, pledged the EU’s commitment to supporting the regional civil society forum’s dialogue, capacity development and policy engagement.

As part of the cooperation of EAC and GIZ in involving civil society in the integration process, GIZ technical advisors facilitated three Summit sessions on the topics of trade and investment, gender and inclusion, and agriculture and climate change. Furthermore, GIZ via the Support to East African Integration Programme (SEAMPEC II) supported six panelists from Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, and Tanzania who provided technical expertise to enrich the session discussions.

The three sessions recommended the following to the EAC Partner States to consider for implementation:

  • Increased investment in digital capacity development and trade facilitation to upskill and reskill women and youth.
  • Remove tariff and non-tariff barriers under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and push for the enactment of progressive policy and legislation to support a conducive operating environment.
  • Establish AfCFTA women and youth-dedicated desks at national and regional levels to support the implementation of AfCFTA.
  • Increase public investment in agriculture to meet the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme target by spending at least 10% of their national budget on agriculture development.

The Summit also launched a five-year strategic plan 2023 to 2028 for EACSOF which provides the strategic direction and measures for implementation to achieve the vision and mission of the forum. Further, the members agreed to follow up on the observer status application of EACSOF with the EAC to guarantee adequate engagement of EACSOF with the EAC Secretariat and Partner States.

Lastly, the Summit confirmed Ms. Lilian Alex as the new CEO of the EACSOF.

Find more information on the EACSOF Summit here.

Find more information on GIZ support to Civil Society here.