The 5th edition of the Great African Cycling Safari (GACS) was flagged off at the East African Community (EAC) Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania by the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of the Productive and Social Sectors, Christophe Bazivamo.
The GACS is an annual bicycle tour to showcase the East African Community in all its beauty, multiplicity, and reflecting the cultural diversity of the people living in the East African region.
Youths from across the EAC Partner States join this cycling event to take the EAC integration process from the level of abstract policy making in government offices to the people at the grassroots level to show that integration is alive and beneficial to all citizens.
This year’s safari started in Mombasa, Kenya, reaching Arusha in Northern Tanzania within just one week. During the tour, participants camp in villages in the evenings, eating meals together with the local communities, bringing the benefits of regional integration closer to the people and sharing the EAC experience and its opportunities with the citizens.
The tour of 2022 has three key aims: promoting the goals of the EAC; promoting trade and tourism across the Community, and; mitigating challenges posed by climate change.
Flagging off the cyclists, the Deputy Secretary General hailed the cyclists for their efforts in complementing initiatives by the Secretariat to create awareness on the integration process.
The DSG said that the Great African Cycling Safari was an excellent opportunity to market the EAC integration to its actual owners, the ordinary people of East Africa.
Bazivamo said that the tour is in tandem with the wishes of the Summit of EAC Heads of State who have been keen on taking the EAC to the people at the grassroots.
‘‘I am glad to note that the cyclists use the safari not only just to sensitize to the people along their route on regional integration, but to preach peace and unity, promote tourism and planting trees to mitigate effects of climate change,“ he said. He reaffirmed the Community’s support for the cycling iniative.
On her part, Joyce Kevin Abalo, representing Godje Bialluch, the programme manager of the EAC-German Programme ‘Support to the EAC Integration Process, hailed the cyclists saying that it would go a long way in promoting regional integration in East Africa.
“This commendable initiative of youths from different EAC Partner States shows that integration is lived by the people of East Africa,” said Abalo.
She said that GIZ supported Great Africa Cycling Safari at its early stage through the EAC-GIZ initiative Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa (IIDEA).
“We are delighted to see that this undertaking has become sustainable thanks to the great diligence, inventiveness and enthusiasm of its protagonists, who go to great lengths to promote togetherness in East Africa,” said Abalo.
The next stop for the cyclists will be at Mwanga on the foot of the North Pare Mountains, and from there they will proceed to Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Bujumbura, Kigali and Kampala before arriving in Nairobi for the Grand Finale on Sept 25.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK