The East African Community

The East Africa Community was established out of a desire to have some form of integration in the East Africa region. The first three countries to join the East Africa Community were the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda which agreed to join a co-operation for the purposes of economic and social development and advancement. At stated above, this community was established in 1967 and although its success was shortly lived, supporters and critics both feel that it experienced success before it disbanded in 1977. To bring about the end of this first East African Community, there were several problems that the integration effort experienced. The first problem for this integration effort was that a set of coordinated goals along with a path to achieving them was missing. The next problem that arose and led to the dissolution of the East African Community was the fact that some states in the integration effort were ensuring that they received more of the advantages than the other states; this led to resentment and less cooperation in the integration efforts by the states that were not receiving the majority of the benefits. One of the most significant occurrences to bring about the collapse of the East African Community was the inability of the leaders from different countries to agree on significant integration issues. This was especially the problem between President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Idi Amin, the ruler of Uganda.

After the initial failure of the East Africa Community, these countries that made up the integration effort did not give up on trying to work together for social and economic benefit. During the time after the end of the first East African Community until the East African Community was re-established, these countries often attempted to work together in furtherance of common goals. They often achieve this common effort through the form of multilateral agreements that were put in place to facilitate the integration of trade in the region. Efforts to establish an integrated East Africa, however, had not been abandoned. Therefore, summit meetings were held to discuss reestablishing the East African Community in 1993 and 1997. By the end of 1999 a treaty for the establishment of the East African Community had been drafted and signed by three of the countries that were to be members of the union. These countries were Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Following the signing of the Treaty for Establishment of the East Africa Community on November 30, 1999 and it being ratified by the states of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, the Treaty was set into effect.

In fact, the heads of the countries in the East Africa region view integration as so important to the region’s economic success, that in 2004 they recommended the fast tracking of the process to get the integration in place and functioning for the benefit of the countries involved. “At their Extraordinary Summit in Nairobi on August 27-29, 2004 the Heads of State of the EAC countries resolved to expedite the process of regional integration so that the ultimate goal of a Political Federation is achieved, and directed that a Committee of three persons be set up to examine how fast track mechanism can be achieved”. At that time is it was articulated that a fast track integration of the region and Political Federation could be achieved in the region by the year 2010.

The fast tracking of the political federation was delayed in 2008 at a meeting of the East African Heads of State by a decision that the countries of the region that will be members of the federation should have a common market and single currency before the federation is formed. The goal of the East African Heads of State was to have a common market and a monetary union established by 2012.

Today, according to the East Africa Community website, the East Africa Community includes 1.82 million square kilometers. In addition, it includes a population of 135.4 million people as of 2012. It has gross domestic product of 84.7 billion. Its headquarters is located in Arusha, Tanzania. In furtherance of the goals stated in the treaty, the EAC countries established a Customs Union in 2005 and a Common Market in 2010. The next phase of the integration will see the bloc enter into a Monetary Union and ultimately become a Political Federation of the East African States”.

An agreement to begin the monetary unionization of the countries of the region was signed in 2013, however, this agreement allows the monetary union and common currency to be completed over the course of the next ten years. This delays the creation of a federation of the countries. However, more progress has been made in recent months. In October of 2013, the single customs territory was launched. In addition, in February of 2014, the East Africa Community approved a single tourist visa for entry into the member countries.


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