ARUSHA, Tanzania, 23 May 2014 – PRNewswire Africa – A two-day conference (May 23-24th 2014) on East African Societies and Regional Security officially opened this morning here at the EAC Headquarters.
The meeting which was opened by the Chair of EALA’s Committee on RACR is organized by the East African Legislative Assembly and the African Leadership Centre (ALC) in collaboration with the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA) and the GIZ East African Community program.
In his remarks, Hon Zein noted that partnerships were key in ensuring peace prevails and lauded the on-going peace building initiatives in the region. Hon Zein underscored the need to embrace peace and stability as an integral part to the 2020 agenda and development in the region.
‘There cannot be peace without development and we must keep the conversation on peace building on-going’ the legislator remarked.
He informed delegates that the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community required Partner States to strengthen the security of the Community in all ways and to establish common foreign and security policies.
‘What is needed is a holistic approach to the matter’, Hon Zein added.
The Executive Director of the African Leadership Centre, Dr Funmi Olonisakin maintained that it was necessary to bring to fore the security concerns of the people and places/locations.
‘The security concerns of people in far off regions such as Wajir can became invariably connected to the security concerns of the populations in Nairobi, Arusha and Kampala through a single act of terror attack’ the ALC boss said.
On his part, the Peace and Security Expert at the EAC, Leonard Onyonyi told the participants that tackling insecurity continued to be a major priority of the EAC. He cited terrorism, poaching, and trafficking as some of the challenges the EAC is currently grappling with.
Despite the benefits associated with the Common Market Protocol, the meeting was informed of the need to improve on citizen documentation as well as enhanced oversight of land and maritime boundaries.
Mr. Onyonyi noted that the region had developed a Conflict Prevention Management Resolution (CPMR) mechanism with early warning and mediation systems In attendance are EALA Members, EAC Secretariat officials, government officials of the Partner States, policy partners and representatives of the Civil Society Organisations.
A paper presented by academicians of the African Leadership Centre (ALC) reiterated the need to address the societal security concerns and called for the establishment of regional response systems. According to the academicians, Prof Funmi Olonisakin, Dr. Godwin Murunga and Dr. Mshai Mwangola, three main areas that have impact on the transformation of societies and security include; the youth bulge in East Africa, East Africa’s borderland communities and natural resources and security dynamics.
The youth who constitute a large percentage of the EAC are clearly underserved by state presence, both politically and economically and this pre-disposes them to exist in near exclusion, general poverty and insecurity.
On environmental matters, the ALC academicians assert that East Africa is blessed with a variety of natural resources with each country producing or having expectations of finding oil, gas and minerals. At present, however, production levels or discoveries of each vary between the countries.
Accordingly, Uganda and Kenya’s most promising issue is oil while the United Republic of Tanzania’s is gas with estimations that could see the region become the world’s third largest exporter of natural gas in the very near future. Rwanda and Burundi on their part are rich in a variety of minerals, with Rwanda leading the world in production of Tantalum. Discourse on natural resources within the EAC, the academicians’ state, should affirm to the important place of ‘existence-dependent’ resources like crop, aquatic, animal, wildlife and forest resources within the region’s economy.
Borderlands and the communities occupying them have several characteristics that worsen rather than improve the security situation. As a result, borderland communities are generally under-served by state presence, both politically and economically; something that predisposes them to exist in near exclusion, general poverty and insecurity.
The paper thus avers that no EAC country, for example, is isolated from the experience as well as impact of the youth bulge; or the peculiar security concerns of their borderland communities; or still, the potential for the exploitation of natural resources to breed particular security challenges.
The conference hopes to analyse the emerging security priorities, needs and challenges in the region and discuss the feasibility of a new vision on regional security and sustainable and peaceful co-existence. It further anticipates the comprehension of the long-term transformations occurring within East African societies and the corresponding effects on regional security.
The conference ends tomorrow.
SOURCE East African Community Secretariat (EAC)
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