Uganda Democracy Academy Fellowship’s first session on regional integration

On 7 June 2023, our colleague at NIMD Uganda, Angella Kemirembe, attended the inaugural Uganda Democracy Academy Fellowship, hosted by NIMD Uganda. The event brought together over 80 young leaders from various political parties, youth leagues and youth-focused organizations in Uganda. In the article below she shares her observations with us.   

The Democracy Academy Fellowship is a six month programme that aims to empower young individuals and enhance their leadership skills, political knowledge, and civic engagement. The participants are from political parties and various youth leagues in the country.

The focus of the first session in June was on strengthening economic, political, and social ties among the countries in the region. The fellows were all eager to explore the role of young people in promoting regional integration in East Africa. 

Benefits of regional integration

During the fellowship, the participants delved into the various benefits of collaboration among neighboring countries. Through insightful discussions and case studies, the fellows recognized the potential for shared growth, increased trade, and improved political stability that regional integration offers. Learning how our collective efforts could pave the way for a more prosperous and harmonious East Africa was inspiring.  

Ugandan lawyer, politician and diplomat, Amanya Mushega, moderated the session. He emphasized young people’s crucial role as agents of positive change in our communities. He encouraged the fellows to actively contribute to the integration process and ensure that laws and policies on the topic consider their interests. One critical issue discussed was the need to unify the scattered currencies in East Africa to facilitate business and promote intra-area trade. 

To successfully integrate as East Africa, we need to pull resources for the purpose of survival. We need to ask how we can bring our scattered currencies together. As long as the borders remain, we shall not achieve integration.” Amanya Mushega  


The participants and moderator acknowledged that regional integration also faces numerous challenges, including political differences, conflicts among member states, economic disparities, inadequate infrastructure, trade imbalances, and weak institutional capacity. To overcome these hurdles, Amanya Mushega stressed the importance of setting aside political affiliations and working together for the growth of Uganda and achieving regional integration. He emphasized the power of dialogue, active listening, and respectful engagement in building consensus as the first step toward regional unity and strength.  

“Unity is strength. We need to treasure it. The more united we are as a region, the stronger we shall be.” Amanya Mushega  

The fellowship also highlighted the plight of relatives classified as ‘refugees’ in neighboring countries, even though they have connections to the region. This issue underlines the need for a more inclusive and empathetic approach to regional integration.  


One of the most significant takeaways from the fellowship was its opportunity for Ugandan youth to connect with a broader network of young leaders. This platform enables the fellows to share experiences, best practices, and innovative ideas, thereby fostering unity and collective action. Armed with newfound knowledge and motivation, the fellows are now empowered to advocate for youth policies and influence decision-making processes. 

The session concluded with inspiring discussions on how the fellows can collaborate across different political parties to advocate for regional integration in East Africa. Some participants recognized the importance of first addressing internal differences within Uganda to present a more united front. I am sure the conversations will continue.

Looking forward to the next session.

Read here about the second Fellowship on the role of political parties.