East African Community

EAC strives to be an oasis of peace and stability and to provide the seeds of future prosperity to the more than 90 million people living in this corner of Africa

Under the motto of Development and Unity, the East African Community (EAC) came into being on January 1st, 2001, and the vision and leadership shown by the founding countries – Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, in forging the way for regional integration has been met by international applause.

Many believe the EAC will be an oasis of peace and stability in an otherwise war torn corner of Africa, and since the final signing of the treaty, the EAC has been relentless in its efforts to create a successful union that will plant the seeds of prosperity. A major milestone was achieved in March of this year with the successful signing of the protocol for the East Africa Community Customs Union, an achievement that EAC officials considered an important initial phase for further political and economic integration.

The East African region (Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda) covers an area of 695,000 square miles and has vast potential in mineral, water, energy, agriculture, forestry and wildlife resources. Its people have a common history, language (Kiswahili and English for business), culture and infrastructure. The regional co-operation and integration envisaged in the EAC is broad based, and ranges from trade and investment to monetary and fiscal affairs, passing through defence and judicial matters. In the economic arena, the EAC intends to promote pro-market and liberalisation policies, and to create a competitive regional economic bloc that, with its combined GDP of £14 billion, will represent a substantial presence in Africa’s emerging markets.

With the signing of the Customs Union, which declares that the three states are intent on abolishing tariff and non-tariff barriers, a major first step has been taken towards the creation of a common market for the three nations, considered to be the next stage in the integration progress, followed by a monetary union and the subsequent political federation. Much of the groundwork for the following stages has already been laid, however. Defence co-operation was signed in 1998. A common development strategy is already in place, as are the common transport infrastructure strategy and the common agricultural and rural development strategy. An Investors Guide to East Africa has been produced and over 300 standards have been harmonised between the three countries.

The EAC has also elaborated the Lake Victoria Development Program. The world’s second largest fresh water lake, covering an area roughly the size of Ireland, Lake Victoria bestrides the three East African Community countries, and has become a symbol of their unity. The EAC program for the Lake Victoria Basin, which has a population of over 30 million, emphasises regional co-operation for the conservation of the lake, and development and poverty eradication for local communities.

The EAC faces much work ahead, however, and it recognizes that regional integration and development in East Africa will require the mobilisation of vast resources, both within and outside the region. Despite its enormous potential, the EAC alone cannot not raise the level of resources needed to meet the highly capital-intensive investments required, and the involvement of the private sector and the international donor community, from which the United Kingdom Department for International Development has been a leading EAC contributor, will both be key components in its future success.

Distributed with The Daily Telegraph. Produced by PMC Ltd, who take sole responsibility for the contents
PMC Ltd. Empire House 175 Piccadilly, London W1V 0TB Fax (020) 7409 2871