EAC needs to enhance communication for community development
The East African Community needs to enhance its regional communication efforts before it can effectively establish its proposed economic community, the results of a study showed. “The overall level of understanding for both businesses and the general public is still low due to a lack of interest and ineffective use of available communication channels,” the conclusion of the Study on East African Community wrote. According to the poll, while over 76 percent of the populations living in the capital cities of the regional consortium are familiar with the EAC name, 65 percent of people lack a basic understanding about what the group actually does or intend to achieve. However, the challenge now is for EAC to intensify its imprint and understanding among its citizens in capital cities and rural communities alike, the study said. It blamed the ineffectiveness in communication between the organisation and its citizens which has resulted in low levels of understanding and awareness in the East African Community mostly on language barriers and differences in educational levels among member states of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. The study recommended the creation of a more unified and simplified understanding of the community, including in local languages, alongside the official group languages, English and Swahili.
Swahili is the most widely spoken language in region’s two biggest economies of Kenya and Tanzania.To enhance the communication strategy, the study said that three key elements needed to be considered. The first issue mentioned was to make unfamiliar issues more familiar. Communication should also move from a conceptual message to a concrete one and be able to demonstrate the real cost and benefit of a single community, according to the study. It said, however, that communication messages needed also to be adapted to different audiences, with the key targets being businesses and the general public.The study recommended that for businesses, a clear policy on the free flow of goods and services, the differences in competitiveness among members states and the impact of the anticipated free movement of skilled labor should be addressed.For the general public, the focus should be on the Arusha based organisation and community’s ability to bring peace and security to all East African citizens, improve its economic situation and create more job opportunities.The study also singled out the social media and partnership with civil society organisations and industry associations as the recommended platform to promote interaction among East African citizens.