Ambassador Mfumukeko was speaking over the weekend at the just concluded four-day training workshop on the East African Community integration process for public communications officers and journalists from media houses in the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) held at the EAC headquarters in Arusha.
The workshop is part of a comprehensive capacity building programme on the integration process to enhance the young nation’s integration into the Community.
He said that the Community had put in place a roadmap to gradually integrate the world’s youngest nation into the Community’s structures, programmes and activities.
“The capacity building programme for RSS government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and other stakeholders will focus on all aspects around the EAC integration,” said Amb. Mfumukeko.
The training has drawn nine public communication officers from government ministries, departments and agencies, and 14 reporters/editors from various media houses in South Sudan. The objective of the training is to actively engage the participants with a view to enhancing their appreciation of the EAC integration process.
He said that the EAC has overtime organised media training workshops on specific sectors and specialised matters on the integration so that journalists can report EAC issues effectively and with accuracy.
“The mass media are powerful tools for raising awareness on various issues. The media therefore stand out as a special stakeholder group that ought to be educated if the EAC integration message is to trickle down to opinion leaders at the grassroots,” he said.
In his remarks, the GIZ programmes officer, Bernd Multhaup, said that there was a lot of information coming out of the EAC daily in various sectors including education, culture, ICT, political affairs, tourism, among other areas.
“I urge you to be creative, investigative and honest in delivering content to the public. Responsible journalism is at the centre of building nations, fostering peace and unity among the different stakeholders and this can be of particular benefit to a young nation like yours and East Africa,” Multhaup told the participants.
Noting that regional integration was a process that would take time, Multhaup urged the participants to lobby their government, the civil society, citizens and other non-state actors to join in, and create a powerful knowledge base on the benefits of EAC integration.
“Today, a unique training starts, especially focused on building your capacities as editors, journalists and communication officers. Take advantage of this opportunity and challenge your writing and reporting skills,” he said.