By Stephen Otage
The East African Business Council (EABC) has voted the Nation Media Group (NMG) as the only media company with presence across the entire East African community.
While presiding over the EABC 20th Anniversary Awards on Friday at the Kenyatta International Conferenece Center in Nairobi on Friday Evening, Lillian Awinja the Executive Director EABC said, as they celebrated their 20th anniversary, it was important for them to recognize the business community which has witnessed and withstood the challenges of EAC integration process but managed to withstand them and navigate through them and even expand their businesses beyond the EAC.
“These celebrations are about the business community in the EAC which has witnessed the integration process from the common market, to the customs union despite the impediments but took advantage of the market,” she said adding that these are companies which have spearheaded the integration process for more than 20 years making the East African Community the fastest integrating community in the world.
Over thirty companies with presence in all the East African Community states were recognized for their resilience over the 20 years with Mabaati Ltd, the parent company of Uganda Baati, carrying the day.
While announcing the winner in the Media Category, Dr. Kirsten Focken the GIZ program manager for EAC integration process said NMG is the only company which featured in the media category because of its presence all over the region.
“Nation Media Group is the winner of Media Category because they are present all over the region and we congratulate them for this achievement,” she said as she handed over the plaque to Francis Munywoki the managing director NMG Newspaper Division.
“You have survived for 20 years and kept integration on course making EAC the fastest integrating community, marketing Africa as one investment destination and you are expanding your footprint,” she said.
Ali Kirunda Kivejinja the East African Community Affairs Minister who presided over the ceremony noted that the establishment of the East African Community in 1967 marked the beginning of the dismantling of the colonial structures when they fought for independence in the 1960s which he said had become a mockery from the colonialists who wondered the kind of independence Africans were celebrating yet they could not manufacture technology as simple as safety pins to remove jiggers which were torturing Africans.
“This is a transition from the colonial economy to independent people like it was before colonialism when Africans traded among themselves by exchanging gifts among themselves. We are rich but we do not know that we are,” he said adding that it is time the private sector woke up to organize intra-Africa trade and take the lead since the balance of trade is improving.
NMG is a subsidiary company of the Aga Khan Development Network which has business interests in health, education, tourism, energy and the financial markets. The group boasts of major media outlets in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda with a mission to be the leading African media outlet telling the African Story by Africans.