Arusha. The Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala), Ms Margaret Nantongo Zziwa, is calling on the region to seek solutions to existing inequalities as a precursor to progress and attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Speaking at the launch of the Society for International Development (SID) State of East Africa Report, 2013 in Nairobi on Saturday, she said that the East African Community (EAC) needed a stronger social economic fibre.
“Seven out of the 10 persons you see walking out there in the streets are jobless, while another 6 out of 10 live in informal settlements.
“The largest population, the youth, constitute about 8 out of 10 persons and their age range is below 30 years. Many are jobless and live below a dollar a day. This is a trend that needs to change,” she explained.
Ms Zziwa called on stakeholders to join in the task of securing an economic future of East Africa.
She hailed the recent unveiling of the Uwezo Fund in Kenya and said it would incubate enterprise and creation of jobs. “Such initiatives should be replicated,” Zziwa added.
The report published by the Society for International Development (SID) anticipates improvement of quality of life of East Africans through attainment of sustainable growth and development by promotion of a balanced and harmonious development.
It suggests equal distribution of benefits and commitment to people centred and market driven competition as envisaged by Article 7 of the EAC Treaty. The report is themed: One People, One Destiny: the future of inequality in East Africa.
The SID publication reports of trends in the last two decades pointing to reducing inequalities in the republics of Rwanda and Burundi. The gap between the rich and poor is expanding in Kenya and Tanzania while Uganda has kept stable.
On malnutrition, 42% of the region’s 24 million children under five were stunted in 2010. The Report however states that the region achieved the global target of 100% gross enrolment at primary school level.
The reports paints a fairly good picture of the East African Community’s economy, stating that it recorded an impressive growth rate trend of 6% in 2011 and a GDP of $83 billion.
However corruption, the report maintains, continues to blight the landscaper of East Africa;s important institutions including institutions responsible for security and justice.
In attendance at the launch today was the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for EAC, Hon Phyllis C. Kandie, EALA Members, the Regional Director of SID, Ali Hersi and representatives from the Civil Society and Private Sector.