The level of residents’ awareness about the east African community integration process has hit a 73 percent mark in Rwanda, compared to other EAC member states.
This is one of the outcomes of a survey conducted by the Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) research carried out between August 2010 and 2011, on the level of
Burundi comes second with a general population awareness level of 66 per cent, followed by Tanzania at 65 percent, while Kenya lags behind at 46 percent.
According to Nelson Karanja, Senior Communications Manager at TMEA Headquarters in Nairobi, the survey in Uganda is still ongoing, but a 2009 survey there had put the awareness level at 32 per cent.
The survey also indicates that 90 per cent of local institutions understand the EAC integration process; however the general statistics indicate that there is lack of awareness about specificities of EAC among East African citizens.
Meanwhile, 80 per cent of institutions are aware of the existence of the EAC Common Market protocol, 13 per cent reject it while 7 per cent do not know about it, according to the findings, while 80 percent of the sampled institutions were aware of the existence of the Common Market, 13 per cent unaware and 7 per cent clueless about the implications.
One of the indicators to this report is because many respondents did not differentiate between the EAC Common Market and Customs Union. Though the general public perception, 34 percent of respondents were very optimistic about benefiting from integration while 30 per cent were positive about the free movement of goods from one country to another, job opportunities, economic benefits and market access.
On the Common Market protocol, the survey shows that 59 per cent of individuals interviewed acknowledge the presence of the EAC Common Market and believe it would positively impact their lives through a reduction in commodity prices, free movement of goods and services, and more products on the shelves.
However, 23 per cent are not aware of the presence of the Common Market, while 18 per cent have no idea about the impact of the Common Market.
In Rwanda, the survey, which was conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of EAC Affairs, shows that the awareness is more about general understanding of the bloc, including membership and protocols.
The country programmes director of Trade Mark East Africa, John Bosco Kalisa, highlighted the importance of the integration process and the need for more sensitization among the public, since some of the findings indicated that some respondents actually had been mixed up on whether Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo are members of EAC.