Kivejinja said there is a need for Kiswahili to be used as a tool for integrating the people of East Africa.
Minister Kivejinja at the conference in Zanzibar
It is only through the use of Kiswahili as a tool for integration that the region shall achieve the provision of Article 137 (2) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, according to Ali Kirunda Kivejinja, Uganda's Minister of East African Affairs.
The treaty provides for Kiswahili to be developed as a lingua franca for the Community.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the East African Kiswahili Commission (EAKC) International Conference in Zanzibar, Tanzania, Kivejinja said there is a need for Kiswahili to be used as a tool for integrating the people of East Africa.
The conference in Zanzibar brought together Kiswahili stakeholders from the region to deliberate on how the development and use of the language can creatively be used in deepening and widening EAC integration and contribute towards the realisation of sustainable development in the region.
Kivejinja underscored the commitment of the Community's leadership in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and tasked the EACK with generating proposals on how Kiswahili can be used in the achievement of these goals.
"I would like, therefore, to pledge the commitment of the council of ministers in taking forward the conference resolutions. We appreciate the progress being made by the commission and will continue to guide and enable it execute its mandate," he said.
The minister noted that with more than 120 different ethnic groups in Tanzania, Kiswahili was the most efficient and effective integration tool.
"I would like to pay tribute to the founders of Tanzania for discovering an important tool in the foundation of the nation," added Kivejinja.
The EAKC executive secretary, Prof. Kenneth Simala informed the participants of the conference that the commission was working closely with regional Kiswahili associations in a bid to harmonise the activities of these associations.
He added that various activities are underway towards the implementation of Kiswahili as an official language of the EAC.