The Budget Committee has rejected a request of Shs1.4 billion from the East African Community Affairs (EAC) Committee meant for sensitisation and public awareness by the Ministry of East African Community Affairs in the 2023/2024 financial year.
This was during a meeting in which the EAC Committee Chairperson, Noeline Kisembo presented the Budget Framework Paper for the Ministry of East African Community Affairs on 17 January 2023.
She pointed out that the approved funds of Shs720 million are not sufficient enough, saying that one of the main problems facing the Ministry of East African Affairs is visibility.
“Many Ugandans hardly know the importance of the EAC integration and how to benefit from it,” she said.
Kisembo said that with massive public awareness, it is hoped that participation in the EAC trade will improve, leading to benefits from the integration.
Her Deputy, Hon. Abdi Fadhir Chemaswet said that the use of billboards is intended to create a wider understanding of the EAC integration.
“We will agree that if we travel in many parts of Uganda, you will find that EAC is not well known. If you are to go to Karamoja, they will tell you that they do not understand EAC. It is only the border districts that do understand,” said Chemaswet.
Sheema Municipality Member of Parliament, Hon. Dicksons Kateshumbwa however, said that focus should be put on mobilising Ugandans to know the market opportunities within the EAC as opposed to spending on billboards.
“Having a billboard when I am not exporting, how does it help? We should look at activities that will enable a Ugandan to get money and take advantage of the EAC,” said Kateshumbwa.
Hon. James Kaberuka (Kinkizi County West) said that the ministry should move away from spending on sensitisation and instead invest in promotion of trade in East Africa.
“The issue of visibility has a relationship with what you do. EAC Federation is not for leisure; we have to make sure we do something because billboards will not promote EAC. We need to educate traders on how to exploit opportunities,” he said.