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Monday, May 20, 2024

East African Community and Federal Republic of Germany mark 25 years of cooperation

The East African Community (EAC) and the German Embassy Dar es Salaam, jointly celebrated 25 years of partnership between the EAC and the Federal Republic of Germany today at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.  

During the occasion, the EAC Secretary General, Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mutuku Mathuki, and the German Ambassador to Tanzania and EAC, H.E. Thomas Terstegen, officially opened a photo exhibition titled “25 Years, 25 Faces, 25 Impacts.”   

The photo exhibition is showcasing tangible impacts created for EAC citizens by the EAC-German partnership in recent years. It presents 25 beneficiaries from across EAC Partner States and all sectors of cooperation such as trade in goods and services, harmonisation of standards, pandemic preparedness and One Health, integrated water management, and digital skills development. 

Among the beneficiaries are students benefitting from scholarships, tech-preneurs developing their careers following graduation, and tour operators who have grown their business thanks to capacity development and joint regional marketing. In addition, business leaders from sectors such as leather and pharma voice how they have been able to expand their markets due to the partnership between EAC and German Development Cooperation.  

Other beneficiaries represent the Partner States’ public sector and give testimony on how regional integration is having a positive impact on the development in their home countries – among them officials working on cross-border solutions for health and water.  

During the beneficiary interviews that informed the exhibition, strong statements on the impact of the EAC-German cooperation were given. For example, Euphrosine Niyidukunda, a business founder and agro processor from Rwanda highlighted, “My company has benefited a lot from the EAC regional integration through free trade. I have expanded my market to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and I’m also looking for opportunities in South Sudan and Burundi.”  

Mr. Godfrey Pimundu, a laboratory scientist and coordinator for mobile laboratories at Uganda Central Public Health Laboratories, stressed the impact on the fight against COVID-19 and other diseases  

“In 2020, we received two laboratories from the German government. These labs came at the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we used them to detect COVID. The impact on fighting the spread of the disease was incredible,” said Mr. Kimundu. 

ICT Specialist Thon Malek,  from South Sudan noted, “During my studies at the Centre of Excellence for ICT in East Africa, I gained new skills every day. The exchange with students from other EAC Partner States helped me to replicate solutions that have been implemented in other countries and make them fit for South Sudan.” 

On the merits for women traders, Ms. Janice Benson Kimaro, the Regional Coordinator, East African Women in Business Platform underlined, “Our partnership with EAC and Germany has led to numerous women entrepreneurs acquiring key knowledge to penetrate EAC and AfCFTA markets. A large number of women cross-border traders are now able to utilise the EAC Simplified Trade Regime to access regional markets.” 

All of them are living testimony to the fact that the benefits of regional integration are real for EAC citizens. 

In his opening remarks, the EAC Secretary General, Hon. (Dr.) Mathuki, hailed the two-and-half decades of cooperation between the Community and Germany, adding that it had yielded innumerable benefits for the bloc. 

“This enduring collaboration has not only strengthened the bonds between our nations but has also played a pivotal role in fostering regional integration and development across East Africa,” said Dr. Mathuki. Since 1998, the German government has been a steadfast ally in our journey toward unity, progress, and prosperity. This enduring partnership has manifested itself in both technical expertise and financial contributions, demonstrating Germany’s commitment to the ideals of collaboration and shared growth,” added the Secretary General. 

Dr. Mathuki described the exhibition as a testament to the tangible outcomes of a mutually beneficial partnership between EAC and Germany. 

“It is a showcase of the transformative power of collaboration, highlighting the strides we have made together in areas such as economic development, education, healthcare, and environmental sustainability,” he said. 

On behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany, H.E. Ambassador Thomas Terstegen emphasized, “The concept of the exhibition “25 years, 25 faces, 25 impacts” reminds us not to forget the ultimate goal of our cooperation: Even at the regional level, that sometimes feels a bit detached from the ordinary citizen, we are aiming at improving the living conditions of those living in East Africa. They must be able to feel the difference that our cooperation makes.” 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of East African Community.

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