Zanzibar Permanent Secretaries and Deputy Permanent Secretaries participate in Negotiation Skills Training

The Chief Secretary of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, Dr. Abdulhamid Yahya Mzee, officiated a two-day Negotiation Skills training for Permanent Secretaries and Deputy Permanent Secretaries of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, on Monday 19th February, 2018.

Organised by UONGOZI Institute, the training aims to equip the aforementioned leaders with necessary skills and techniques to bargain and secure lucrative deals in the oil and gas industry that will reap substantial benefits in the future.

In his opening speech, Chief Secretary Dr. Mzee highlighted the significance of the training, emphasising the importance of negotiation skills for the development of the island state.

“Negotiating skills are very critical to effective leadership. Public leaders negotiate every day, good deals benefit their Governments and the general public; however, a simple mistake or misunderstanding can yield negative consequences”, he stated.

On behalf of the CEO of UONGOZI Institute, the Head of Capacity Building at UONGOZI Institute, Mr. Kadari Singo said through the training, participants’ negotiation capacities in oil and natural gas commercial contracts and investments deals will be strengthened.

“In this training, participants will be exposed to the unique challenges and characteristics of international negotiations, and learn effective negotiation tools and techniques to help them achieve best results in oil and gas deals”, he explained.

Chief Secretary
Chief Secretary of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, Dr. Abdulhamid Yahya Mzee delivers the opening speech.
Participants follow remarks
Participants of the training follow remarks of the Chief Secretary, Dr. Abdulhamid Yahya Mzee.

 

Chief Secretary Participates in the first session
Chief Secretary, Dr. Abdulhamid Yahya Mzee participates in the first session of the training.  

 

Participants during the training
Participants during the training.

 

A trainer from ISLP
A trainer from International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP) facilitates a session.

Dear Elders, please write!

By Dr. Gwamaka Kifukwe

Dear Elders, please write

Something very sad is happening across Africa. There is a generational transition as most of the ‘Liberation Generation’ – that is, those who participated in the various independence movements and struggles of the 60s onwards – are dying. Each year another round heroes, veterans, and icons takes their final, and well-deserved rest. The saddest part is not that we are losing these historic men and women, but that they are departing us fairly quietly – even those who are honoured by state funerals, and a torrent of public obituaries and international condolence messages. Their roles, thoughts, efforts, and ultimately their legacies are absorbed into the generalised history of our respective countries.

Every culture around the world has been recorded and preserved through the rich tradition of storytelling. It is strange then, that on the continent known for storytelling, that memoirs are not very common in Africa. It is a marked difference between our society, and others around the world – In general, our Elders and Leaders are not in the habit of producing memoirs or treatises. Without these, the specific lessons, contexts and ideas of these people are under threat – and the world, but Africa in particular, are poorer for it. Before it is too late, we must request, support, and perhaps even demand the distinguished daughters and sons of Africa to record their journeys and experiences for the benefit of future generations.

Memoirs provide the flesh to the skeletons that our history books and curricula provide for us. Detailing the world beyond the general to understand why things happened, how they happened, who was involved, what were the key considerations, and what were the fears and aspirations at the time of decisions and interventions. Such recordings are vital for us, about to embark on the next way of social, political and economic transformation, to understand who we are, how we came to be, why we are where we are, and what aspirations our predecessors had for us. Learning from the past is an important way of increasing our odds for success in the future.

Memoirs are great stories as well as historical sources that enable deeper understanding of historical events, and therefore the present and future trajectories. Moreover, in this era of heightened inter-dependence and intermingling the need to understand each other continues to be more and more important. These insights help us not only understand ourselves, but also invite the rest of the world to understand us better. Understanding breeds trust – the foundation for good collaboration.

As a genre of writing, memoirs do have their challenges and criticisms– ranging from validity of the memories of authors, the temptation to take up defensive positions and promote justifications, and other forms of information bias. They are, after all, peculiar perspectives on history. Their role is to form parts of, or supplements to, the greater whole. It is also unlikely that authors are likely to receive great financial rewards for their words. The issue at stake is that this forms part of the inter-generational dialogue within and between societies.

For the case of Africa, the wisdom of our Elders – so long a core tradition that has characterised the people of this continent – is being lost, and ignored. If nothing else, this is a plea to our Elders and indeed the rest of us, to not let this happen.

Please write…!

African Leaders must champion continental initiatives if they are to succeed

By Dr. Gwamaka Kifukwe

The African Union Assembly

It is a commonly-repeated maxim, that ‘African has good plans, policies, and frameworks, but what is lacking is implementation’. Invariably, this is treated as evidence that there is a lack of ‘commitment, of ‘political will’, and of ‘leadership’. ‘Gone are the days’, the argument goes, when African leaders mobilised the continent, as a continent, towards a desirable objective – referring to the Liberation Struggles, which ended with the fall of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. But is this a fair assessment of African leadership? Is it true that African leadership and, by extension, Pan-Africanism is a thing of the past? What is, and whatever happened to the ‘economic liberation’ of the Continent? And is Africa’s leadership doing anything about it? These are all valid questions, when considering the transformation desired (and taking place) in Africa today.

These questions were among those posed to H.E. Thabo Mbeki, former President of the Republic of South Africa in a ‘Meet the Leader’ interview. His responses reflect a more nuanced view:

“Part of the problem that you are raising, quite correctly, of a perception among the Africans of a weak leadership or an absence of leadership on the continent is that I think you have very few of our political leaders on the continent who actually act visible as champions of these issues.” – H.E. Mbeki, 2016

He goes further to state:

“Many of our Heads of State, you only see them, in terms of the media, commenting on domestic issues, which they must do. It is correct, they must address their domestic issues, but very few that you then see that they are addressing continental issues…  if you look around now, it would be very difficult to be able to identify which African leaders are in fact taking up those Pan-African issues. It is not because they are not doing it, but the visibility and the communication with the population is, I think, very weak.” – H.E. Mbeki, 2016

Upon reflection, the visibility of leaders championing African causes and initiatives is certainly an issue. When one compares the fanfare surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals with the relatively humble launch of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, it becomes evident that a lot of thought has certainly gone into the preparation of both concepts (and documents), but the communication strategies are very different. The reasons behind this are uncertain, however this has been a long-term trend across Africa. What-ever happened, for example, to the Lagos Plan of Action? Is it still relevant? Have we achieved the desired outcomes? What still remains to be done? How are we going to complete the implementation of this plan? And (sadly) for many, what is the ‘Lagos Plan of Action’!?

The reality is that progress towards the lofty continental goals is slowly being made. The task of building institutions is long and arduous. During those ‘good old days’ it was simpler to rally around a common enemy (colonialism and occupation). Today, we struggle to agree on and prioritise the common interests we as a Continent should put our efforts into. The East African Community, African Peer Review Mechanism, African Court of Human and People’s Rights, are all examples of continental institutions that are slowly, but steadily, gaining traction and working towards living up to their mission statements. However, significant challenges remain – Pax Africana (the idea that peace and security of and on the continent, is maintained by the continent itself), for example, remains elusive.

The ‘little victories’ of these institutions are not well-shared beyond specialised interest groups and communities, and certainly not broadly celebrated. This is one of the classic leadership and change-management tasks, which is critical in generating and sustaining momentum in a given initiative: celebrate small victories or progress so that stakeholders get a sense of achievement and fulfilment. The lack of communication and visibility leads to the perception that nothing is being done, which then reflects on our elected representatives and civil servants negatively. As a result of our political leadership on the continent not (being perceived to be) championing these causes and broader Pan-Africanism. This has created a separation between citizens (stakeholders) and the public officials, and a general sense of apathy and confusion.

A key factor of the success of the liberation struggles was that because progress was being communicated, the people on the continent felt they were part (and even owners) of the struggle. At present, these initiatives seem far-fetched; being carried out on behalf, and in the name, of the people rather than with the people. This must change, and that starts with effective, consistent, and honest communication from and to our continent’s leadership and leaders. If indeed Africa does have all of the right frameworks, Africans need to know, so they too can contribute as they have shown willingness to do in the past.

Communication is the key.

 

Minister Selemani Jafo Officiates Leadership Training Programme for District Commissioners and Local Government Authorities Directors

On 29 January, 2018, Minister of State in the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government, Hon. Selemani Said Jafo (MP), officiated a five-day leadership training workshop for District Commissioners (DCs) and Local Government Authorities (LGAs) Directors from six regions of Tanzania Mainland (Tanga, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Pwani, Lindi and Mtwara), in Dodoma.

In his speech, Hon. Jafo outlined the role of UONGOZI Institute in building capacity of public leaders in the country, and the different development initiatives by DCs and LGAs in their respective districts.

Hon. Jafo further underscored the need for DCs and LGAs Directors to understand their roles and responsibilities, and to work as a team to meet their targets. “As leaders, we have one key responsibility, to serve the interests of the public, and we have better chances to achieve that when working as a team rather than in silos” he stated.

“I believe though this training you will be well-equipped to lead different sectors in the Government, as you will have a better understanding of how the Government operates, protocols and etiquettes, as well as the level of confidentiality and ethics required,” Hon. Jafo added.

On his part, the CEO of UONGOZI Institute, Prof. Joseph Semboja, stated that the training aims to enhance key leadership competencies of the DCs and LGAs Directors in making strategic and sustainable decisions, leading people and managing other resources and excelling in personal leadership qualities.

“Leadership is about persuasion, and in order to be persuasive, leaders require certain qualities such as; the ability to inspire others, hard work, honesty and integrity, impartialness; etc., and these qualities will be addressed in the training”, he stated.

UONGOZI Institute in collaboration with the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government have organised a total of four leadership training workshops for DCs and LGAs Directors in Tanzania Mainland since May, 2017, with the participation of over 300 leaders.

Minister of State in the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government, Hon. Selemani Said Jafo (MP), opens the leadership training workshop for DCs and LGAs Directors.

 

Deputy Minister, the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government, Hon. Josephat Sinkamba Kandege, welcomes the Guest of Honour, Hon. Minister Selemani Said Jafo (MP).

 

The CEO of UONGOZI Institute, Prof. Joseph Semboja, delivers opening remarks.

 

The District Administrative Secretary Dodoma, Ms. Jasinta Venant Mboneko, delivers welcome remarks on behalf of Dodoma Regional Commissioner.

 

Deputy Permanent Secretary, the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government – Education, Mr. Tixon Tuliangine Nzunda, delivers opening remarks.

 

Participants during the opening ceremony.

 

Participants engage in group-assignment during the workshop.

 

Participants engage in group-assignment during the workshop.

Africa needs both “strong-men” and “strong institutions”

By Dr. Gwamaka Kifukwe

138464-Barack-Obama-Quote-Africa-doesn-t-need-strongmen-it-needs-strongOn the 11th of July, 2009, the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, on his first visit to Africa, addressed the Parliament of Ghana and boldly stated:

“Africa doesn’t need strong men, it needs strong institutions”

He was only partially correct. Africa needs both.

That African institutions are weak and need to be nurtured, is unquestionable – but who will develop and nurture them?

In a recent Meet the Leader interview with H.E. Yoweri Museveni argued that the leadership challenge in Africa differs from other parts of the world. Using a nautical metaphor, H.E. Museveni reasoned that while leaders elsewhere in the world are concerned with steering the ship through the stormy seas of change, African leaders are simultaneously building the ship. This is in part, due to African states being still relatively young – emerging only after 1957 (Ghana). It is no surprise that many African states emphasised ‘nation-building’ as the key domestic agenda following independence, in order to undo the deep damage that the colonial experience has done.

The French lawyer and philosopher, Montesqueiu (1689 – 1755), articulates the critical challenge that African states face:

“In the infancy of societies, the chiefs of state shape its institutions; later the institutions shape the chiefs of state”

In other words, Africa needs benevolent strong men in order to build the strong institutions. And by benevolent, I here refer to having the greater good of society at the fore of all of their thoughts and activities. Tragically in Africa, we are all-too-well acquainted with strong-men and -women whom are not benevolent.

Returning to President Obama, the United States of America, the ‘shiny beacon on the hill’, and bastion of the Republican values. The phrase ‘Republican values’ refers to the political ideology that advocates for a political system grounded by the rule of law, the rights of individuals, and the sovereignty of the people – as opposed to feudal monarchies and other political systems. Famously, the American revolution (1763 – 1783, with the Declaration of Independence made in 1776) was grounded on the principle of “No taxation, without representation” and the British American colonies rejecting the rule of the British Parliament without being able to send their own representatives.

However, often overlooked is the fact that the Declaration of Independence was drafted by a “Committee of Five”, consisting of John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut. It was signed by a total fifty-six representatives from each of the thirteen colonies (with a population of roughly 2.5 Million citizens). The ‘American Revolution’ split communities between Loyalists (to the Crown of England) and Patriots (Colonists seeking independence). Since independence, America has had its fair share of strongmen (benevolent and otherwise) that have shaped the development of its present-day institutions. These have evolved as circumstances have changed, but the key early figures such as Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, etc. remain relevant and influential to present day.

Africa is still seeking such benevolent strong men and women to establish, nurture, enhance, and tinker with our institutions. After all, this is the key responsibility and ‘deliverable’ of leaders and of leadership: adjusting our institutions to enable the advancement and prosperity of their societies, in the circumstances they find themselves in.

We have our liberation heroes, our Fathers of the Nation, and a few and other pillars of moral authority and champions of the African cause – however, it is no secret that we clamour for ‘the next generation’ that will deliver ‘Africa’s second liberation’. As long as our institutions remain fragile, we will continue to be more dependent on the benevolence of strong men and women to lend their strength to establishing the permanency of institutions, than for institutions to provide checks and balances to those intent on abusing their positions and abandoning their responsibilities. It is incumbent on our leaders of today and tomorrow, to keep this in mind if our development and transformation are to be successful and sustainable. This will take time.

The African Union recognised this under its third of seven aspirations of the ‘Agenda 2063’ – An African of good governance, democracy, respect for Human Rights, justice and the rule of law. And this challenge is not unique to Africa. Indeed, the Sustainable Development Goals recognise this challenge across the world under Goal 16 – Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions are all levels.

H.E. Museveni correctly summarises the leadership challenge facing Africa. The onus is on African citizens, and African political parties, to prepare and elect appropriate representatives that we believe can deliver sustainable solutions to the challenges facing the continent. These solutions in turn, will provide the foundations for the next generation of leaders to develop and guide as they encounter the emerging and future challenges of the future.

 

Finland and Tanzania Ink Agreements for Governance, Innovation and Forestry

On 30th November, 2017, the Tanzanian Government and Finnish Government inked three agreements with the value of 28.8 million Euros (approximately 75 billion Tanzanian shillings) for Innovation, Forestry and Good Governance projects in Tanzania.

Through the arrangement, the Government of Finland will provide 9.90 million Euros to support capacity building for public leaders through the UONGOZI Institute, 8.95 million Euros for innovation through the National Innovation System, and 9.95 million Euros for supporting the Forestry and Value Chains Development Programme.

Speaking after signing the agreements, the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Dotto James, thanked the Government of Finland for the financial support, pointing further that it was not the first time Finland supports development programmes in Tanzania. According to the PS, the support to UONGOZI Institute will be useful in strengthening leadership and administration capacities in Tanzanian institutions, and eventually promote accountability and economic growth.

On his part, the Finnish Ambassador to Tanzania, Pekka Hukka, pointed out that Tanzania and Finland have had a long-standing relationship built on mutual respect. “Years of cooperation have resulted in strong bilateral relations as well as friendship between the civil societies and citizens of the two countries,” he explained.

Ambassador Hukka said the cooperation focuses on two goals; improving performance of the public sector in terms of economic governance and increasing opportunities for employment and livelihoods. He further pointed out that effective and inclusive institutions in addition to well-functioning public sector are important in order to achieve sustainable growth, poverty reduction and the rights of the citizens.

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“Partnership for Sustainable Development” – The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Dotto James (right), and the Finnish Ambassador to Tanzania, Pekka Hukka (left), signing the agreements for Innovation, Forestry and Good Governance projects.

 

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The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Dotto James (right), and the Finnish Ambassador to Tanzania, Pekka Hukka (left), exchanging the contracts.

 

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“Now it is time for implementation” – The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Dotto James (right), and the Finnish Ambassador to Tanzania, Pekka Hukka (left), displaying signed contracts.

 

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On the right, the CEO of UONGOZI Institute, Prof. Joseph Semboja, thanking the Government of Finland for supporting sustainable development and poverty eradication in Tanzania and Africa. On the left, the Finnish Ambassador to Tanzania, Pekka Hukka.

 

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A group photo after signing the agreements.

 

Photo credits: Communications Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Planning.

African Delegates Convene to Discuss Value Addition in the Extractive Sector in Africa

Photo: TanzaniteOne

The Office of the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana in collaboration with UONGOZI Institute of the United Republic of Tanzania are co-organizing a two-day Regional Forum on “Enhancing Value Addition in the Extractive Sector in Africa”, in Accra, Ghana from the 4th to 5th of December, 2017.

The Forum will be officiated by the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia. At least seventy stakeholders and experts–from the public and private sector, academia and civil society–from the African region and other parts of the world are expected to participate.

The main objective of the Forum is to accelerate discussions on how African countries should position themselves to optimize benefits from the extractive sector through the implementation of value addition initiatives. Specifically, the Forum will focus on identifying areas along the value chain with greater potential for value addition in the extractive sector; public policy, legal and, regulatory environment for an integrated extractive industry within African countries; financing options; measures to encourage local business participation; technology and skills required; health, safety, security, and environmental considerations; and lessons learnt from a regional perspective.

During the two-days of the Forum, delegates will be able to share experiences and recommend effective approaches in encouraging value addition or processing in the extractive sector. A summary of the key outcomes is anticipated to inform the implementation of value addition initiatives in Africa.

An inconvenient truth about leadership: loneliness

By Dr. Gwamaka Kifukwe

Blog Today
Image: Kashak/bigstock.com

While filming an episode of UONGOZI Institute’s flagship TV show (Meet the Leader), an interesting epiphany occurred. The interview turned from reflecting the guest’s understanding and experience of leadership, to learning about the guest as a person. A simple, yet direct question was asked – “We have heard about you, as the leader and President. Tell me about you as a father, and husband, and a friend?”

The guest paused for a few moments. Their face changed, shoulders slumped, they leaned forward and their hands came together as they took on an almost prayer-like pose. After a few seconds, a heavy sigh escaped the guest’s now frowning lips and a melancholy voice replied, “I could do better”. He proceeded to reflect on missed memories and the great extent he was reliant on his wife (of over thirty years) for a number of issues that “she didn’t sign up for”.

Up until that point, this guest had been buoyant, charming, witty and very sharp in their critique of leadership, drawing upon years of experience and hinting at a wide breadth of reading. This answer was different. The guest went on to recall how being in leadership had come at a huge personal sacrifice; the inability to be a ‘normal’ father and husband. He went on to explain how he missed several (if not all) “firsts” and that upon reflection, he had taken his family for granted and missed being able to switch off and just be himself from time to time.

Leadership is undoubtedly a privilege and a huge responsibility. As people aspire to be leaders, we often think of the glamourous public appearances, the power, and the prestige. Less is thought of basic issues that confront us all as human beings. Being parents, for example. Going on dates, going to watch the latest movie, attending a concert, or just heading out to dance the night away. All of these avenues are closed to people we increasingly de-humanise as they approach the ‘top of the ladder’ and make our leaders more symbol than person.

Leadership is an incredibly lonely experience. In doing back-ground research ahead of interviews and speaking to people close to the distinguished guests of the programme, a few stories seem to repeat themselves. One typical story is how senior officials and individuals have been called, late into the night, to the Executive. Usually this is to their official residence, sometimes to the Office itself. Upon arrival, the anxious (and tired) official is invited to sit, and watch a local football match, or documentary, as the Executive shares their thoughts. There is no agenda. There are no minutes. Often, there aren’t even any assistants present either – from time to time, it seems, the person escapes the symbol only to find that it has no-where to turn to.

Leadership is a great sacrifice. We are social creatures by nature and by habit. As people emerge as leaders, we increasingly deny them the opportunity to ‘be human’ and to take up a ‘greater calling’. This comes at the price of the things we take for granted as part of a ‘normal’ life. How then, can we expect our leaders to be able to relate to and understand the highs and lows of our life. They become increasingly dependent on others for information and insight. This is the classic tension between the leader and their lieutenants: The leader is reliant on the lieutenants to execute their directives and to provide feedback; the lieutenants in turn are reliant on the leader to be appointed into positions of authority in order to exercise power. In such a scenario, it is easy to see how paranoia and sycophancy embed themselves.

In preparing for leadership, we must equip aspirants with the ability to understand, accept, and deal with these so-called ‘soft’ issues. Dealing with celebrity and fame has been a challenge for many without the proper guidance and preparation for the pressures that this entails. This even more acute when your every movement and decision can literally change people’s lives and impact their long-term prosperity.

Perhaps these structures are already in place in some arenas of leadership, and we in the general public are not privy them. However, it is clear from having carried out a number of interviews that if they exist, they have been an afterthought. Moreover, the inclusion of these more personal challenges, leadership training programmes for young and emerging leaders have increasingly incorporated reflection, emotional and psychological training and support, as well as coaching into their programmes. In addition, acknowledging potential sacrifices and settling these in our personal relations and marriages ahead of time is also encouraged so that at the end of the day, there is some kind of ‘normal’ to return to when the mantle of leadership is passed on.

Coming back to the leader in question. After a few minutes of very candid reflection and catharsis, his earlier posture, and his jovial self-returned back to the fore. The symbol once-again replaced the person. The show went on.

This part of the interview was never aired.

 

CONNECTING PEOPLE ABSTRACTLY AND INTELLECTUALLY IS NOT ENOUGH: TIME FOR AN ‘INTERRAIL’ FOR EAST AFRICA?

By Dr. Gwamaka Kifukwe

Regional Intergration

With a visit to the East African Community (EAC) headquarters or browsing of their materials you will quickly encounter the EAC’s ambitious slogan; ‘One People, One Destiny’. The motto encapsulates the essence of integration – the increased interlinking and interdependence of economies, communities, and (most importantly of all) people. Since its re-establishment in 1999, the community has moved quickly to expand from its original three member-states, to its current six member-states – Burundi (2007), Kenya (1999), Rwanda (2007), South Sudan (2016), Tanzania (1999), and Uganda (1999).  In more technical terms, the EAC has already achieved the East African Customs Union, the establishment of the Common Market (2010) and the implementation of the East African Monetary Union Protocol. In the academic literature, these are seen as stepping stones on the way to full political federation – which remains a way off yet.

However, integration must be more than linking people abstractly and intellectually, it must be based on linking people. Personal relations can have a long-lasting effect on integration as mutual understanding grows from personal exchange. It is only by mingling with our neighbours that we learn about them, learn about their circumstances and environment, learn to trust them, and eventually learn to love them. As borders have opened up, however, initiatives to encourage personal connections have not been at the fore as the ‘One People, One Destiny’ mantra might at first suggest. The EAC (and the member states) must do more to encourage interaction and exchange among people, not just in economic, intellectual, and political areas.

One way of doing this is to encourage and enable young East Africans to travel across the region for free, or at nominal cost. The benefits of travel to an individual are too many to name, and each individual experiences travel differently. However, expanding horizons, giving people an opportunity to gain perspective, and to meet new friends, colleagues, and partners. Not to mention, giving our young people exposure to the great African spaces where the wildlife and natural wonders of the continent rule would foster a greater awareness of how precious our resource wealth is.

A good example of this is seen in the ‘Interrail’ initiative in Europe. Interrail was established in 1972 as a scheme to tempt young people to explore Europe and interact with each other. In other words, to give young Europeans the chance to raise their European awareness. Initially twenty-one countries took part in the scheme (which has expanded to thirty), which allowed youth aged 21 and below to travel freely across the participating states with the purchase of a 27 GBP pass. The scheme and pass have evolved, but remain in place today with the same purpose of enabling Europeans to explore their shared space, and develop a sense of ‘one people, one destiny’.

As we progress towards political federation and become ‘one people’, a similar scheme could have huge positive impacts on fostering understanding and trust, the foundations for peaceful co-existence. In addition, with the world’s economic structures shifting towards ‘shared’ and ‘knowledge’ economies, the networks and perspectives will empower young people to look beyond difference as a challenge, and treat it as an asset. Many people – young people in particular – are already linking through social media and other virtual/online ways. This too is positive, but there is simply no substitute for person to person sharing to truly encourage deeper appreciation and understanding of each other. When our people are able to work together and appreciate our diversity, this will unleash the creativity and innovation the region, and indeed the African continent more generally, need to in order to provide African solutions to African problems.

The expanding infrastructure that the member-states and the EAC Secretariat are undertaking and committed to are very welcome. Indeed, they are pre-requisites for industrialisation and structural transformation. However, the social dimension of integration must also be harnessed if the region is to truly flourish – and active and progressive initiatives such as the Interrail in Europe, would go a long way to complement the efforts being carried out by our leaders.

In order for this to work, travel must be affordable and the restrictions minimised for young people to be able to take advantage of this. This opportunity should be open to all citizens of the EAC member-states regardless of income, otherwise it will be limited to the privileged few who can already afford to travel. And while our rail networks may not yet be up to the task, we can consider an intra-regional coach or bus pass, or special fares on flights for young people signed up to such a scheme. States could provide subsidies for a number of passes per member state, per year channelled through the EAC Secretariat or responsible ministries of member states, or through Ministries responsible for culture or youth.

The barriers to travel, are also barriers to us becoming one people, and therefore sharing one destiny. As hundreds of thousands of Europeans have had the privilege and opportunity to experience in Europe, we should enable and encourage hundreds of thousands of East Africans to do the same in East Africa. In this way, we can truly appreciate the vast opportunities that the opening of borders presents to us as individuals and as societies on the path towards greater regional integration.