Some Rwandan citizens have expressed concern over the lack of adequate information and sensitization of the benefit of East African integration. Some of the citizens we have been able to talk to insist they don’t understand well the Common Market. They have thus decided to call upon the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the ministry of East African Community (MINEAC), to educate them more on the development.
Felicien Irandukunda, a resident of Kimironko,told The Rwanda Focus that unemployment is becoming a problem in the country and regional representatives are not updating the community where he lives about the numerous job opportunities in other EAC countries. “For sure I really don’t understand if our EAC representatives are advocating for us to make sure that Rwandans get job opportunities generated from EAC member countries,”Irandukunda said.
The issue of unemployment has become a global threat and according to the 4th Integrated Household Living Condition Survey (EICV 4), the unemployment rate stands at 2%, nationwide, overall employment in Rwanda remains high, at over 86.9% of the population aged 16 years and above. Unemployment for university graduates stands at 13.5% whereas in secondary graduates is 9.0 %. “We want to be updated about employment opportunities available in EAC member’s states, this will make many graduates get employment and run away from poverty,” Irandukunda added.
Frodouard Twizerimana an artiste added that there are some musical festivals which happen in the region but they are not always informed. “If we happen to get involved in different festivals that happen in EAC, it will help our culture to be branded in a bigger way. Secondly, sharing of ideas with other popular artistes within the region will be much easier hence fostering innovation and creativity. The whole idea will help us to get new ideas on how our music industry can be develop and improved to the world standard,”Twizerimana said.
The Protocol on the establishment of the East African Community Common Market entered into force in 2010 and is in line with the provisions of the EAC treaty. It provides freedom for free movement of goods, labor, services, and capital. Rwanda joined EAC as a new member in 2007 however, some of its citizens just like in any other E. African state are not yet convinced of the enormous benefits that will come with it. According to MINEAC, there is still need to update the public on key achievements based on the EAC integration and also being aware on key ongoing projects and programs.
Innocent Safari, the permanent secretary of MINEAC, says since Rwanda joined the regional common market, the right of residence and market of EAC has been expanded. He adds that factors of production are now free to move in the region with reduced costs and increased opportunities for economies of scale. He also reveals that the use of national and student identity cards as travel documents by Northern Corridor countries and the removal of visa and work permit fees for East Africans facilitated partner states to fill the shortage of skilled labor. Besides with the addition of South Sudan into the region, the regional EAC market has been widened to 162 million people.
“We don’t regret why we entered EAC though there is a lot to do to transform the well being of Rwandans. We have to appreciate what we have achieved. Being a landlocked country we need to work with other EAC countries such that we develop. Working alone has not developmental,” Christophe Bazivamo, Rwanda’s representative to EALA affirmed. Bazivamo noted that recently EALA Rwanda chapter had sensitization programs in Rwanda about, the EAC integration. “Sensitizing Rwandans about EAC is not about them (Rwandans)only but sensitization activities are carried in all member countries such that their citizens benefit from the regional integration,” Bazivamo revealed.