By Elisha Kamau
NAIROBI, KENYA: Milly Mbedi enters an auditorium in Sun Safari Hotel in Bujumbura, Burundi one Tuesday morning. She is an unfamiliar face to the seated audience of university students.
The 26 year old lady, is here to lead a sensitization forum on EAC integration process to university students from Université du Burundi, Université du Lac Tanganyika, and Université Lumière de Bujumbura.
Fifth teen minutes into her presentation, the audience nod and gesture in affirmation to the proceedings as she flips over slides in her powerpoint presentation.
“The sensitization forum was a follow up on the first EAC University Students’ Debate. The workshop was aimed at preparing the University Students from the Republic of Burundi for the second EAC University-Students’ Debate on EAC Integration,” notes Ms. Mbedi
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For Ms. Mbedi, championing the East African Community integration process beyond the Kenyan borders has always been her childhood dream.
A law graduate student from Moi University, Ms. Mbedi served as the President of the International Court of Justice under Kenya Model of the United Nations before moving into ambassadorial work which she now does with a passion.
“So far I have done ten forums in all the East African Countries – Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania,” adds Ms. Mbedi
“I was appointed the EAC Youth Ambassador (Kenya) by the EAC Secretariat during a pioneer EAC Inter-University Students’ Debate held in August 2012 in Arusha, Tanzania,” notes Ms. Mbedi.
Together with the other ambassadors, we were trained, under the auspices of the EAC Secretariat and GIZ on the EAC structures and procedures that was followed by a regional integration modalities and processes workshop the same year in October, Arusha Tanzania.
For Milly, in as much as the youth are now increasingly more informed about the EAC structures, organs and processes and are also aware about the different stages of the integration process and appreciate the political integration, the key bottleneck is the slow pace at which the integration process is taking.
As a result, they have been able to informatively contribute positively, provide feedback about the integration process touching on four key pillars of integration– Common Market Protocol, Political Federation, Monetary Union and Customs Union
According to the Director of Social Affairs at The Ministry of East African Community now Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce & Tourism, Mrs. Agnes Sila, there are a lot of benefits and opportunities that the youth can tap from the EAC integration.
“I am glad that Ms. Mbedi is leading by example,” adds Mrs. Sila
Throughout the sensitization forums, I have invited many university students to join my ambassadorial team not only learn more about the EAC integration but also create awareness about the same.
Other EAC ambassadors that are following Milly’s footsteps are top winners of an EAC Social Media Campaign ‘Connect Vuka Border’ – Raphael Mbatha, Eric Munene, Mercy Chebet, Fredrick Onyancha and Paul Wanjiku who soon after the competition was over went an extra mile to set up a website which they now use to create awareness around EAC integration.