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The East African Community (EAC) Heads of State have appointed Ambassador Richard Sezibera from Rwanda as the new secretary General of the Community on a five-year term with effect from last week.
A communiqué issued at the end of the Heads of State summit held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania last week said Dr. Sezibera replaces Ambassador Juma Volter Mwapachu who completed his term of office on April 24, 2011.
Speaking after being sworn in, Dr Sezibera said that his focus will be to strengthen and bring the Community’s programmes to success. He said his main duties will be to push for the complete establishment of the East African common market and put it into practice.
“I expect the partner states to support me in ensuring the implementation of the Community programmes,” said Dr Sezibera.
He added that another duty will be to facilitate integration and make sure all the residents of the EAC area well informed and aware of the EAC programmes and activities.
On what EAC people should expect from him, the new secretary-general said his commitment to work for the Community was among the important issues that would move the Community’s development ahead.
“I am committed to work for the East African people, it makes me very proud and courageous,” said Dr Sezibera.
Until his new appointment, Dr Sezibera, (47), the youngest person to hold the top EAC post since the revival of the regional bloc in 1999 has been Rwanda’s health minister since October 2008. He has served in many capacities in the Rwandan government including Presidential Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region, Ambassador to the United States and Senior Adviser to the President where he worked on peace and security, conflict management and resolution, as well as regional integration issues.
He is the author of many university journals, mainly in the field of politics and international affairs, and has published numerous articles and interviews in major national, regional and international media houses including Voice of America, CNN, BBC, The Washington Post and Foreign Affairs magazine.
Dr. Sezibera holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree and practiced medicine for many years in Uganda and Rwanda. He also holds a Master of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from Georgetown University.
Summit Chairman Pierre Nkurunziza told the new leaders that the mission is to lead the Community in its second decade of integration, with a calendar of great commitments because the peoples of the community have become very demanding, and require concrete results from the integration.
Hailing the choice of Sezibera, officials in the Rwandan Senate said the appointment was a sign that the EAC’s integration would be fast tracked.
“It’s great to have someone who has wide experience in politics; it’s good for Rwanda and the wider Community,” Senator Agnes Mukabaranga said. “Dr Sezibera has vast experience considering the posts he has held before. He is very innovative and industrious.”
Mukabaranga said Dr Sezibera has the spirit of innovation that is needed to fast track the region’s integration process. He becomes the fourth secretary-general of the EAC.
By Arthur Baguma
The East African Community plans to start a single tourist visa for the region. The member states are discussing a protocol to create and market the region as a single tourist destination. Member states have started to coordinate their policies in the tourism industry and were establishing a frame work that would ensure equitable distribution of resources. In addition the partner states are establishing a common code of conduct for private and public tour and travel operators, standardized hotel classification and professional standards of agents in the industry.
A collective policy for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wildlife and other tourist sites in the region is also in pipeline.
“They include harmonizing policies for the conservation of wildlife within and outside protected areas, exchanging information and adopting common policies on wildlife management and development, coordinating efforts in controlling and monitoring encroachment and poaching activities,” information at the EAC states. The policy encourages joint use of training and research facilities and developing common management plans for trans-border protected areas.
These developments are good news to East Africa tourism potential. From some of the world’s finest beaches to unique wildlife sanctuaries East Africa is a tourism hub. In Uganda the unique wildlife sanctuaries East Africa is a tourism hub. In Uganda the unique Bwindi National Park home to some 340 mountain gorillas, the Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Park are also preferred sites for tourists. In Kenya, the magnificent Maasai Mara reserve, among 48 wildlife parks and reserves, including the amazing Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks attract tourists both local and international. In Tanzania, the world famous Ngorongoro crater, the breath taking spectacular Serengeti plains, wildlife conservation areas and Mt. Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest mountain are just the tip of the ice berg of what Tanzania can offer tourists.
Apart from the scenic attractions, East Africa has a lot more to offer. Hotel and beach tourism is at its peak. The region offers a large number of historical sites spread through the region. It boasts of interesting traditional culture, the Makonde sculptures and Akamba wood crafts as well as the Uganda Kingdoms, cultures and tradition. The Olduvai Gorge in the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania is the site of discoveries of the traces of early humanity.
There is, however potential for development, expansion and promotion of East African tourism, taking into account on going development of tourism and other potential of the lake Victoria basin. The world’s second largest fresh water body is shared by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
The number of tourists to the East African region increased significantly between 1995 and 2002.In Tanzania the number increased from 285,000 to 550,000 while in Uganda it increased from 160,000 to 254,000. In Kenya there was a slight decline from 896,000 to 838,000 but the figures rose to one million in 2003.
Currently the three countries attract more than two million tourists. The figures indicate a vibrant trend of the tourist sector in East Africa. With joint promotion of the industry, tourist visits in East Africa are expected to double in the near future. In 2005, the East African Community countries launched the plan for joint tourism and wildlife development including joint marketing and promotion of East Africa as a single tourist destination.
Starting with the Internationale Tourismus Borse (ITB), Berlin 2006, the tourist boards of East African countries participate in international trade fairs under one roof, the East African Village exhibition area. On going activities aim at developing both short and long term measures in the joint promotion and marketing of East Africa as a single tourist destination.
The plan and strategy for joint development and promotion of tourism envisages steady growth due to stable political and peaceful conditions prevailing in the region coupled with modernization of infrastructure, transport and communications facilities and links to all parts of the world by major world air lines and ocean cruises.