IT will always be hats off to East African Countries (EAC) police chiefs as they agreed to set up various centres of excellence in the region to build capacity to handle various challenges in the member countries.
The motive is meant to fight gender based violence, disaster mitigation, criminal investigation, disarmament and public order management and organised crime that involves vehicle theft among others.
Along, the same vein, EAC has various experts who can be relied upon for innovation and creativity to ensure that the envisioned cooperation is enjoyed by all the citizens and last forever.
A case study was a recent quality research organised in Kigali for three-days as African Network for Internationalization of Education (ANIE) an annual conference to help in making relevant policies to handle various challenges facing the continent.
It was pleasing that the conference brought together think-tanks from universities hailing from 23 African countries as researchers and other experts. However, it has been very rare to have the same think-tanks routinely meeting on how to cement EAC for the sake of its over 150 million citizens.
Reading part of their paper-in the 21st century as research being synonymous with sustainable development, EAC has never thought of launching the same research that would make it unite the member states professionally instead of relying on the politicians.
It is by and large the key to unlocking EAC short terms potential union and ensuring optimal use of resources are shared amidst the citizens who are poor to address poverty and other challenges affecting them.
It has been a slogan that united we (EAC) stand, but divided along individual sovereign country (ies)’ lines will always make us crawl like a child learning to walk. No country or institution for sure can put claim to sustainable development alone without embracing research at the planning level, a leaf that should be borrowed in EAC to last.
In Kigali, the conference observed that indeed the future of African development will largely depend on how much is invested in research to seek the right solutions for Africa’s challenges, EAC as a bloc in this case part of it.
The new regional and global dynamics require concerted efforts to put research at the forefront of planning and policy formulation. But at the forefront of this drive is the academia at the apex of the education system.
Universities and related think-tanks must move beyond paperwork to share their findings and recommendations, and should never wait for politicians to politicize their ideas.
It is paramount to note that Rwanda has lately moved to allocate more funding to research, which is a step in the right direction because research is the starting point, if the country is to achieve sustainable development in the long run.
This approach should be spread to cover the whole EAC as a joint bloc if corporation is to be met and sealed. Like Dr Marie-Christine Gasingirwa, the Director General for Science, Technology and Research in the Ministry of Education noted, there is need for more efforts to finance research projects so as to come up with results that can help make better policies.
It is high time EAC also try this joint venture. Research leads to evidence based policies; better use of resources, good governance and good development, and this is what the East Africa Community requires as a bloc.
It is strange to think as EAC when individual member states are still thinking individually in their affairs and lack common approach in what is likely to divide them, and what eats its fabrics like addressing joint common food problems (poverty), diseases and ignorance.
Experts should go back to the grassroots and seek common ideas of the people on why since 1967 when EAC was thought of, has not fully addressed its specific objectives for integration ranging from the attainment of sustainable growth and development of the Partner States by the promotion of a more balanced and harmonious development of the Partner States.
The strengthening and consolidation of co-operation in agreed fields that would lead to equitable economic development within the Partner States and which would in turn, raise the standard of living and improve the quality of life of their populations.
The promotion of sustainable utilization of the natural resources of the Partner States and the taking of measures that would effectively protect the natural environment of the Partner States and strengthening and consolidation of the long standing political, economic, social, cultural and traditional ties and associations between the peoples of the Partner States so as to promote a people-centered mutual development of these ties and associations to the mainstreaming of gender in all its endeavors and the enhancement of the role of women in cultural, social, political, economic and technological development.
Other priorities they should concentrate include the promotion of peace, security, stability within, and good neighborliness among, the Partner States; the enhancement and strengthening of partnerships with the private sector and civil society in order to achieve sustainable socioeconomic and political development; and the undertaking of such other activities calculated to further the objectives of the Community, as the Partner States may from time to time decide to undertake in common which are still hanging.