Regional Speakers have launched the East African Parliamentary Institute (EAPI) in Nairobi, with the training outfit expected to harness capacities and narrow the skills gap of Parliamentarians and staff in the quest to further strengthen the integration process.
Speaking at the official launch on Friday last week, EALA Speaker, Ngoga K Martin, underscored the importance of the institute’s presence in the region, to catapult the integration process and provide a valuable link between people within the EAC and beyond.
He remarked that EAPI would provide an adequate base of knowledge on legislative matters to Members of Parliament and staff who at times come from different background when they join Parliaments.
Ngoga lauded the regional speakers for their contribution to the process.
“The launch of the EAPI is definitely an indication of the total commitment accrued to the integration dispensation by Parliaments and by yourselves. It is only befitting to recognize each and every one of you for the support you have personally and/or collectively accorded and extended to the EAPI,” Ngoga said.
The launch of EAPI follows the enactment of the East African Parliamentary Institute Bill, 2011, which anchors and provides for the legal framework of its establishment.
The EAPI Act inter alia establishes a mechanism for capacity and skills development to promote professionalism through establishment of the institute thus giving effect to article 5 (1) of the Treaty.
The Speaker lauded the EAC Heads of State for assent to the Bill, whose operationalization now sets basis for motion of the objectives of the institute.
According to the Act, the regional Speakers form the Board of Trustees of the new Institution which shall be chaired by the EALA Speaker while the Clerk of the regional assembly shall oversee the activities of its Governing Council.
At the recent 38th Meeting of the Council of Ministers, the matter of an institutional structure was discussed and according to Ngoga, the Board of Trustees shall promptly propel forward the administrative framework to make EAPI fully operational.
Present at the occasion were Speaker of the Kenya National Assembly, Justin Muturi, Kenneth Lusaka, Speaker of the Senate of Kenya, the Vice President of the Senate of Rwanda, Gakuba Jean d’ Arc and the Chair of the EAC Committee in Parliament of Uganda, Ouma George Abbott, who represented the Speaker.
The Speaker Emeritus of EALA, Abdirahin H. Abdi, was also in attendance.
In his remarks, Speaker of Senate of Kenya, Kenneth Lusaka, rallied for capacity development of legislators saying in remained critical in ensuring effective service delivery to the Parliamentary leadership, legislators and the electorate. The Speaker called for collective effort on the part of parliaments and all other stakeholders towards offering sustained commitment and unity of purpose.
On his part, Speaker of the Kenya National Assembly, Justin Muturi, affirmed that EAPI would be a catalyst in guiding legislators to embrace evidence-based legislation which would play a key part in ensuring quality of legislation is improved.
The Vice President of the Senate of Rwanda, Gakuba Jean d’ Arc hailed the inception of the Institute as visionary and said the Parliament of Rwanda was committed to ensuring it is fully in operations.
George Ouma Abbot of Parliament of Uganda reiterated the need for strong institutions in the integration dispensation.
EAPI was initially mooted in 2001 as a joint venture between the State University of New York (SUNY), the National Assemblies of the Partner States and EALA as well as the United States International University (USIU). At that point, the FORD Foundation offered the initial seed fund.
A key conference, bringing together senior parliamentary staff from the region took place 3 years later (in 2004) and the occasion served as an avenue to share experiences with regards to implementing change and embracing modernization in the respective legislatures. Under the new arrangement, Parliaments of the region are to largely fund the institution, a move hailed as key in its long-term sustainability.