Kampala, April 5th, 2022: Members of the Kenya’s National Assembly Select Committee on Regional Integration today made an inspection visit to the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) as part of the Committee’s oversight mandate. Partner States’ National Assemblies have a major role to play in the East African Community (EAC) integration process. The committee is currently conducting inspection visits to all EAC institutions and organs to understand what is happening at the institutions and then make informed recommendations. The committee was led by the Vice Chairperson Hon. Nzioka Erastus Kivasu and included Hon. Ibrahim Abdi Mude, Hon. Janet Teyiaa Marania, Hon. Ibrahim Nasri Sahal and Hon. Katana Paul Kahindi.
The delegation was received by the IUCEA Deputy Executive Secretary, Prof. Mike Kuria. In his welcome remarks, Prof. Kuria underlined the resilience and power of higher education for regional integration. He cited the fact that IUCEA is one of the oldest institutions of the EAC. “We celebrated 50 years in 2020. IUCEA survived the collapse of the EAC in 1977,” he said.
Prof. Kuria informed the MPs that IUCEA advises Partner States on higher education matters. It supports networking between universities in the region and internationally. “We want to enhance quality of education by paying attention to research, teaching and learning and community service which is the core mandate of universities. We also seek to contribute to human resource development in the region and movement of labour.”
He informed the delegation that IUCEA prepared the ground for the Heads to State to declare EAC a Common Higher Education Area (CHEA) which was done in 2017. In the implementation of the CHEA, IUCEA is running scholarship programs that are aimed at regional integration, it facilitates staff and student mobility, and has developed tools for quality assurance and harmonization of higher education. He also told the Members that IUCEA plans to establish a Center for Research and Innovation where the best brains in the region can have an opportunity to work together to solve some of the region’s problems.
Despite the strides made, there are still challenges. With an expanding Community, having recently added a seventh Partner State [Democratic Republic of Congo], there are many universities from that region that ought to become members of IUCEA. “Unfortunately, the budget does not increase accordingly. We have an expanded mandate but the budget remains the same because of this concept of zero budget increase in the EAC. Sometimes the disbursement is delayed or doesn’t come at all. The delayed or non-remittance of contributions affects what we do in the region,” said Prof. Kuria.
He called on the Members to support the recognition of the diplomatic status of IUCEA in Kenya. That would subsequently lead to the recognition of IUCEA staff as diplomats by the Republic of Kenya. He also called on the legislators to support the ease of movement of EAC staff as they return to their home countries after their tour of duty in other Partner States.
Hon. Nzioka said they deemed it necessary to conduct an inspection and familiarization tour of the semi-autonomous institutions and organs of the community “to assess the status of implementation of various projects and programs with a view to evaluate progress and identify intervention measures aimed at further promoting the EAC integration agenda.”
He said the Committee works closely with the EAC Secretariat to address challenges facing the integration process. He pledged that the Kenya National Assembly will support all legislation that are key to the implementation of the EAC integration process. Hon. Nzioka thanked the Secretary General for making it possible for the Committee to undertake the activity in fulfilment of their oversight mandate. “The issues and challenges will be discussed to see where we can help,” he said.