Rwanda Pledges Budget for Regional Bicycle Tour Activities

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Rwanda’s Minister of State in the Foreign Affairs Ministry Manasseh Nshuti has said that activities of the Great Africa Cycling Safari (GACS) will be factored into the Ministry’s budget as part of continued efforts to help people know more about East African Community.

Nshuti made the remarks while receiving the 6th Great African Cycling Safari participants from EAC Partner States who were in Kigali over the weekend.

The Minister lauded the GACS athletes for their role in educating people about the East African Community through sports as a big number of people are yet to be abreast with what the regional body actually stands for.

“The activities of the Great Africa Cycling Safari will be factored into our budget as they go as low as in the grassroots to let people know the essence of the community through the sporting discipline of cycling,” Nshuti said.

He further stressed that the East African Community is a running body and it has a meaning and a target which they keep working on.

“People need to be educated about activities and what EAC does. Some just think it is an idle body made up of politicians across board and it is about time we let them know what the body entails. GACS is doing a good job by using cycling as a means to give information to people about EAC.”

Previously, Rwanda supported GACS with food, accommodation and security when they are in the country. Their activities will now be properly financed as they will be in the mainstream budget.

Nshuti emphasized that it is people’s responsibility to educate others about the EAC and how they benefit, directly or indirectly, from the regional body. Some benefits include exemptions of taxes or exercising lower taxes when items are imported from one EAC country to another.

On his part, John Barongo, the GACS team leader explained that, “This cycling event is not a competition and no one is awarded. It is just using bicycles to educate people on activities of the East African Community.”

Barongo pointed out that, since there are no awards, individual riders from the various EAC countries should be held in high esteem.

“The riders should be recognized because the recognition will inspire other youth to participate in regional events.”

“Officials from governmental bodies should be involved right from planning as this will help to move the event to a better direction.” He added

First held in 2016, the Great Africa Cycling Safari is an annual bicycle tour aimed at showcasing the East African Community in all its beauty, and 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.

The 2023 edition of the event, which is being held under the theme “Food Security for Sustainable Development in East Africa,” attracted 32 cyclists from Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, DR Congo and Kenya.

This year’s race started in August 1 in Uganda and it will end in the same country. The riders crossed Rwandan border from Burundi on September 13 and they undertook various activities including tree planting in Bugesera District.

Source: The New Times