THE excellent ranking of the East African Community (EAC) among African regional economic communities is attributed to initiatives like Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa (IIDEA).
The incubator has been creating success stories of citizens’ engagement across all EAC partner states, showcasing real-life applications and initiatives from civil society and the private sector that target women and youths and encourage innovation and collaboration.
It has highlighted 40 projects from across the EAC, focusing on the benefits of regional integration, focusing on health, performing arts, youth unemployment, tourism, Information Communication Technology (ICT) and cross border trade.
EAC Deputy General Secretary in-charge of Productive and Social Sectors Christophe Bazivamo has challenged IIDEA stakeholders to take into consideration the issue of ownership, sustainability, accountability, equity and representation of all the partner states innovators during the project implementation.
He was speaking to the civil society and private sector organisations from across the EAC region who converged at Arusha to celebrate IIDEA Week, an initiative of the EAC Secretariat in partnership with the Regional Dialogue Committee and with support of German Development Cooperation through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
“I encourage IIDEA project partners to keep sharing their experiences and learning from others so that your successful projects can be up scaled and enlarged to the benefit of steadily growing communities of people involved. Do not become tired of putting more energy, more funds and more commitment for better results and increased reach. It is always possible to become better and work harder towards people-centred and market-oriented integration,” underlined the DSG.
He noted that the results from IIDEA’s first phase were extremely encouraging. Over 25,000 people directly benefited across the region from the products and services developed as part of the programme.
And, 16 regional promotional events were held and 10 recommendations were made and submitted to the Annual EAC Secretary Generals Forum.
Principal Gender and Community Development Officer of the EAC Generose Minani said the focus on women and youths, in particular, was encouraging and that there was need for the IIDEA partners to collaborate and work closely with the ministries responsible for EAC affairs for sustainability of their projects.
The Cluster Coordinator, GIZ-EAC Programme, Dr Kirsten Focken said the initiative brings integration closer to the lives of ordinary citizens, enabling them to see the practical results of the policies that have been adopted.
It also delivers feedback to EAC policy making bodies, helping to guide the integration process to ensure it meets the needs on the ground.
“In so doing, we aim to make integration something that East Africans can be proud of,” he said.
He informed the participants that GIZ are committed to approach more development partners to support IIDEA and other projects that promote trade as well as encourage harmonisation of IIDEA projects to the EAC sectoral projects.
“Sharing experiences and lessons learned is a key focus of the IIDEA programme and it is hoped that it will inform the development and implementation of the agreements and regional policies approved,” said Kirsten.
Senior Advisor-IIDEA Joyce Kevin Abalo-Kimaro said IIDEA projects are being implemented and expanded across the region and partner states and they could potentially scale them up to ensure they progress well beyond the initial funding phase.