- Feb 11, 2007
|EAC growth figures are deceptive, say critics || Send to a friend|
| Monday, 10 October 2011 09:21 |
By Zephania Ubwani, The Citizen Bureau Chief
Economic growth figures often produced by the East African Community (EAC) do not reflect the reality on the ground because of the rising poverty and unemployment, political activists who met here last week observed.
They said the much-touted great strides the region is making such as increasing foreign direct investments (FDIs), completed major infrastructure projects and rising Gross Domestic Product (GDP) do not trickle down to the ordinary people who continue to toil to make ends meet with little breakthrough.
A lecturer with the Makerere University in Uganda, Mr Mwambutsya Ndebesa, said the figures often given were distortive because many people in EA are still poor while the well educated ones like the university graduates do not easily find jobs.
The academician, who was speaking during a one-day meeting organised by Vision East Africa Forum, a recently formed civil society group, said the region has been portrayed as a favourite destination for both foreign investors as well as for tourists from abroad.
"It is true these figures have gone up but have they helped in poverty alleviation or improved a lot for the ordinary farmers in our villages?" he asked at a forum that was sponsored by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Tanzania Office for delegates from the five EAC partner states.
His remarks were supported by the minister for EA Cooperation Mr Samwel Sitta who said the tarmac roads that now characterise many highways as well as huge oil and natural gas installations do not provide food to the local people because no deliberate effort has been made to make them impact directly on rural development.
He pointed out that thousands of educated people who graduate from universities in the region remain unemployed largely because their training had not been tailored to meet the market demand, especially for self-employment and entrepreneurship.
The immediate former Speaker of the National Assembly said the Tanzanian government has now opted for curriculum change to ensure that graduates trained in the fields which are in high demand in the labour market are utilised.
"We are now going for a curriculum mix that is of immediate relevance and which can create jobs for our graduates," he stated, hinting that much emphasis would be on the science and technology subjects.
The minister challenged the Forum to articulate the interests and aspirations of the people of East Africa on how to alleviate poverty and promote good governance.
"Whatever you do and articulate, you should not lose sight of the shared and fundamental belief that the EAC integration project was conceived in order to accelerate the socio-economic development of our people", the outspoken minister pointed out.
He said the Forum and other lobby groups for regional integration should not be swayed by economic indicators showing the region was doing well in economic growth but to critically analyse implementation of regional projects and programmes "with a view to identifying the missing links in addressing poverty and governance in the region."
The EAC secretary general Dr Richard Sezibera disclosed that of the six fastest growing economies in sub Saharan Africa which are Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Mozambique, three were members of the Community "and this pattern is replicated when considering sector specific growth".