Home GENERAL STUDIES THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY (E.A.C)

THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY (E.A.C)

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THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY (E.A.C)

As other regional co operations, the East African Cooperation came into existence several decades in the past.  Its root can be traced as back as 1920’s.  At this conjuncture the East African Governors Conference was officially started in1923.  The governors’ aim was to coordinate matters of common interest in their colonies.

By 1948 the East African High Commission was formed to replace the East African Governor Conference. The commission consisted of Governors of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika.  By 1961 the East African Community Services Organization (EACSO) was established.

The cooperation therefore took over control of some services and research activities.  After East Africa countries had got independence by 1960’s they decided to move from East Africa Community Services Organization to the East Africa Economic Cooperation.

Thus by 6th June 1967 three head of states from East Africa countries such as J.K. Nyerere, Milton Obote and Jomo Kenyatta met at Kampala and signed the treaty to form EAC which came into effect on 1st December 1967.

OBJECTIVES OF THE EAST AFRICA COMMUNITY

The objectives of the East Africa co-operation were as follows:-

1. To promote trade among of three East Africa countries that were now independent sovereign states

2. To provide the common services in the areas such as railways, harbours, posts and telecommunications.

3. To Provide a wider and more secure market for goods produced in the region

4. To facilitate free movement of people among the member countries.

5. To enhance and strengthen closer ties and understanding between the member states.

6. To establish similar custom duties and tariff to non –member states.

7. To have common currency to facilitate movement of goods and exchange

8. To provide a forum where the three member countries discuss issues of concern to them be political, social, and economic ones.

The East Africa cooperation had these organs

  • The East Africa Authority of  heads of states
  • The East African legislative Assembly
  • The Common market
  • Tribunal
  • The council of Ministers
  • The  Secretariat
  • The court of appeal and
  • The East Africa development bank.

Since formation of the East Africa some achievements are as follows:

1. Achieved to form the East African development bank. The banks has been providing loans to the East Africa countries and funding of various project in the East Africa.

2. Research in agriculture, medicine, industries and demography has been done under the East Africa cooperation.

3. Common services such as railways, harbors, posts and telecommunication was specialized in the three countries.

4. The movement of people, capital and goods were made possible by three East African countries.

5. Forum to discuss political, economic and social problems facing the East African countries has been provided.

6. It was achieved to lessen the perpetuation of neo-colonialism for some extent.

7. Peace, security and good neighborhoods have been realized by the three East African states.

8. However, the East Africa cooperation didn’t last longer;   it   collapsed ultimately by 1977 after surviving for one decade.

Collapse of the former East Africa Cooperation

For almost ten years, the East Africa cooperation through its agencies rendered valuable services to the people of the three countries.  However some political, economic and natural problems led to its collapse in 1977.

The following are reasons for collapse of East Africa cooperation.

1. Ideological difference soon after independence, Tanzania began to lean toward socialism. Whereby the major means of production such as industry, agriculture, production, distribution transportation and even retailing and small business was controlled by government.  Kenya at the time was committed to a mixed economy where individuals’ ownership of property was encouraged; it had a more open economy market than Tanzania.  And in Uganda, after Idd Amin had rose into power he introduced the capitalist system.  These conditions brought misunderstanding between three countries which ultimately discouraged the implementation the East Africa Cooperation’s objectives.

2. Failure to remit funds was particularly a serious problem, it was source of dispute and caused much bitterness in corporations such as the Railways and Harbours and East African Airways.

3. The difference in currency in term of value. The value of currency was different both physically and value.  For example the value of the currency in Kenya was higher compared with that of Uganda and Tanzania.  Then, Kenya decided to withdraw because claimed inequality of trade.

4. The border conflict, there was a border conflict between Tanzania and Uganda, and Uganda and Kenya. This created hostiliy between the East African Presidents.  The conflict culminated; into Uganda- Tanzania war correctively Kagera war of 1978/79.  This weakened the progress of the cooperation and ultimately a decline.

5. Dissatisfaction in the distribution of the resources and profit from the cooperation Since the outset of the cooperation the specialization in control of resources was not equally distributed among the EAC members. For example industries, airways and railways centered in Kenya, while Uganda became the supervisor of East African development bank; post and telecommunication, Tanzania specialized in Harbor operation. This means Uganda and Tanzania were at disadvantaged position while Kenya benefited more.  This compelled to the decline.

6. Indebtedness of the East African countries, since from independence many African countries continued to get loans and aid from International Monetary Fund and donor countries respectively to run their government. Thus, they were to pay back their loans to the given institutions and countries.  This caused them to be bankrupt and poor and consequently led the East African countries unable to implement many of its objectives

7. Multi-membership Besides of repaying debt also the problem of being in other cooperation for example Tanzania being the member of the EAC also was the member of SADC, besides Kenya and Uganda was the member of EAC at the time as well as the member of Commonwealth, COMESA, NAM and Organization of African Union (OAU) this situation reduced commitment and henceforth culminated into the decline of the cooperation.

However, it took almost two decades to revive the collapsed East Africa cooperation.  The efforts done by the East African leaders sparked the revival of the new East Africa community.  They agreed to lessen or remove the hindrances which triggered the decline of the former cooperation.  The new objectives were to be reformed to comply with hitherto problems, situation and circumstances.

THE REVIVAL FOR THE EAST AFRICA COMMUNITY

After the decline of the former cooperation the East Africa community came in to replace the former East Africa Cooperation.   The process of reviving started by 1993 when the three East Africa leaders (President Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda and Alli  Hassan Mwinyi of Tanzania, met to discuss the possible revival of the community.

On 30th November, 1993 the three leaders signed an agreement in Arusha Tanzania, reviving the East Africa Community (EAC).  They emphasized the need for free movement of people, goods services and capital within the three member states.   This, coupled with common services and joint policies for transport and communication, security, education, science and research would enhance regional co-operation.

During a second summit of the three head of states in Arusha on 29th April, 1997, it was decided that a process of treaty making begins that would involve further negotiations among the member states including the public.  The result of the three years of consultation was a treaty for the establishment of the East African community which was signed in Arusha on the30th November, 1999.

It became operational on the 7th July, 2000 the East Africa Community became effective. Currently the community is composed five countries such as Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda and Burundi which joined in 2008.

Objectives of the New East Africa Community

The formation of east Africa community had the following objectives.

1. Establishment of a monetary union or Harmonization of fiscal and monetary policies.

2. Establishment of a common market in which there will be a free movement of people, labour, good and services as well as information technology.

3. Development policies and programs aimed at widening co-operation in political, economic social, defense and judicial matters for the benefit of partner states.

4. Promote sustainable and balanced growth and development among the member states.

5. Achieve equitable economic development and higher standard of living for the people to East Africa.

6. Promote the role of women in socio-economic development

7. Promote peace, security and stability within the region and good neighborhood.

8. To enhance self sufficiency, self reliance and independence to avoid being trodden upon.

9. To provide a forum where the three member countries discuss issues of concern to them, be the political economic and social.

Organs / Structure of community

The following are some organs / structure of the East Africa Community

The summit – consists of the heads of state and gives direction to the achievement of the goals. Its progress considers reports given by the council and review peace and security in the community.  Also reviews progress to the rise of federation.

Sectors Committee – consist of permanent secretaries of regional cooperation. It reports to the council of ministers and coordinates the activities of the sectors committee

The council of ministers – consist of ministers responsible for Regional Cooperation. Their function includes:

  • Considers and approve the budget of the institutions of the community
  • Submit annual and progress report to the summit
  • Implement the decisions and directive of the summit

The east African court of Justice – Consist of the maximum of 6 judges appointed by the summit and serve a term of seven years.

The East Africa legislative Assembly – has 27 members nine from each partner states. Its functions is to interprets agreements and discuss all matters of the community. Up until 2009 Abdurrahman Kinana from Tanzania had been a speaker.  The post incubator can be changed time to time.

The secretariat – Is an executive body. General Secretary up until 2009 was Nuwe Awanya Mushenga of Uganda.  He holds office for 5 years.  The deputy secretaries are Ambassador M. Kazaura of Tanzania who was also the chancellor of University of Dar es Salaam and Dr. Kipyego Chelnget of Kenya.

Autonomous Institutions – are organizations which are Independent and work within the East Africa community system. They include East Africa Development Bank (EADB), Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization, Inter-University Council of East Africa and other institution.

SOME ACHIEVEMENTS TO MEMBER STATES

Since the revival of the east Africa Community (EAC) is almost one decade duration.  Some achievements have had attained by member states as follows:-

1. There has been a flow of labours, goods, and services across the borders. No restriction on immigration between the member states.

2. The monetary union has induced the transaction of money, besides some banks have been invested including Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) East Africa development Bank (EADB) and so forth. These Banks provides loan and make easy transactions. Also the market widening has been possible this is because the East African countries have a lot of people who would act as the consumers for the East African products.  For example, Tanzania alone exported to the East African countries from 29.5 in 2002 to 91.8 billion shillings in 2003.

3. Furthermore unity and solidarity have been strengthened by the East African countries in solving problems pertaining education, health, and transport through common policies between the members.

4. The East African custom union which started on 1st January, 2005 has been an industrial protection tools for the East African countries.  The custom union impose high tariff for the goods imported by the non-East African states and this tariffs is similar across the East African countries.  Thus, the Eastern Africa Countries have had been able to reduce competition for their domestic industries.

5. The East Africa countries have put in place the efforts of eradicating HIV/AIDS.  The disease has been given first priority by many countries in the World.  But, also the East African countries have adjusted their national budget in fighting with HIV/AIDS including education, taking care for the victims and buying ARVs.  Besides, some bureaus to coordinate the war against HIV/AIDs have been launched for instance in Tanzania is known as TACAIDS.

6. The community has succeeded to enhance sports and games.  Various companies have sponsored various sport and games.  East African competition covers football for example Kagame Cup, athletics boxing, just mention a few.  Also the community promotes peace and order among the member states in order to organize all activities pertaining sports and games more peacefully.

Besides the above achievements the community is still inflicted with problems.  These problems have been an obstacle to the community progress.

Problems facing the East African Community

As already noted above, the East Africa Community is facing problems like:

1. Poor transport and communication system, these include railways, roads, harbor and airways. These have not linked properly to serve the whole East Africa community.  Thus, hinders smooth movement of people, transportation, goods and services.

2. Differences in the levels of economic development, in East Africa some of its member have developed economy as you compare to others. For example, Kenya and Rwanda are developed as you compare to Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda.  Thus, the developed countries export more to other countries and hence distort the domestic industries, also the decisions made by community is also altered by developed countries.

3. Political conflict and instabilities. Some East African community members have been affected with unpeaceful atmosphere. The situation have had been influenced with the multipartism system coupled with ethnism.  For example in 2007 after Kenya general election the civil war occurred and coasted the life of Kenyans but also political instability was noted Rwanda which culminated historical Rwanda genocide of 1994; Uganda also is still ruined with political instability.  These instabilities have affected the socio-economic and political and economic progress of the Eastern African countries.

4. Many people in Africa have been affected with poverty. But, since the Eastern African countries fall in sub-Saharan Africa countries where the majority falls below the poverty line. This situation alters the consumption and investment rate and consequently people’s standard of living becomes low i.e.  Ignorance, diseases, low life expectance ruins the victims.

5. Poor science and technology, Science and technology is very experience even the process of getting it is somehow difficult.  Due to poor science and technology the Eastern African countries fails to develop some important  sector of development such as health sector, Small and Medium Enterprises(SME), tourism, industries, and agriculture.  With these problems the innovation and initiation of various projects have been difficult

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