Awareness levels of the integration process in East Africa; a case study of Kenya
Attempts at integration in East Africa have been going on since the early 20thcentury but most of it has been leader-led. This means that there is a political will to establish a federation among the member states, but the leaders have not been able to carry the masses with them. It has however been proven that it takes more than just political will to bring a federation to maturity. Information about the importance of integration has not trickled down to the citizens in order for them to reap the benefits and opportunities that come with integration. This study addresses the awareness levels among Kenyan citizens on the East African Community integration with the objective of establishing whether Kenyan citizens have access to information about the EAC integration process and whether they have taken advantage of the opportunities and benefits of the integration process. It also examines whether Kenyan citizens are skeptical or optimistic about integration in East Africa and to find out whether the Ministry of East Africa Affairs, Commerce and Tourism (MEAACT) has achieved its mandate with regard to the integration process. The study arrived at the conclusion that sufficient information has not reached the masses for them to take advantage of integration. The Kenyan government has not made enough efforts to create awareness among its people. Those who are aware about the integration process know it through other channels. But there is however a high level of the understanding of the benefits of EAC integration process indicating that Kenyan citizens have made efforts to know of the operations of the East African Community integration process. The study reveals that majority of Kenyans are aware of the three main partners of the EAC i.e Kenya Uganda and Tanzania and that they expect to move freely from one country to the other, using a minimum of identification papers.A minority don’t seem to know that Rwanda and Burundi also joined the EAC. With regard to the future functioning and relevance of the EAC towards the achievement of its objectives and well-being of its citizens, a number of recommendations can be put forward to ensure that the citizens are aware of the benefits, thus contributing positively to the integration process. First, there is the need for greater focus on civic education for the citizens of Kenya. There is need for a thorough understanding of how the EAC works and how the citizens will benefit directly. This is the mandate of the Kenyan government through the MEAACT to ensure that all citizens are brought on board.