To ensure that Ugandans benefit from the East African Community integration
A prosperous people in a secure federated East Africa
Edith N Mwanje
At the end of 2015, Uganda once again joined the other four Partner States of the East African Community to celebrate 16 years of EAC integration and to celebrate the EAC Day. The marking of this Day has a rich history. It goes back to that memorable Thursday on 30th November 1999 at Sheikh Amri Abeid Memorial Stadium in Arusha, Tanzania, when the three Heads of State of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania put pen to paper to ink the Treaty establishing the East African Community. Later, Rwanda and Burundi were to accede to this Treaty in 2007.
It is also for this reason that, in commending the successful celebrations to mark the 10th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty, the 20th EAC Council of Ministers meeting held in March 2010, underscored the need to reinforce the spirit of East African unity as well as to galvanize a passionate and visionary participation of the citizenry in the EAC integration under the clarion call of “One People, One Destiny”. The Council not only directed the EAC Secretariat to plan in advance for future EAC commemorative events but also urged Partner States to hold EAC Week activities on an annual basis.
More recently, the East African Legislative Assembly passed the East African Community Holidays Bill 2013. The Bill, which was passed in August 2013, is intended to further promote the spirit of East Africanism through the annual celebration of the East African Community day on 30th November each year. However, owing to other engagements, in Uganda the day was marked the day on 4th December 2015.
These activities are not only aimed at raising awareness on the benefits and opportunities of EAC integration but also to reflect on the vision and progress made as well as opportunities arising from the EAC integration effort.
The EAC journey has been an illustrious one with a lot of achievements that we should take pride in as East Africans, the inevitable challenges notwithstanding.
The East African Community (EAC) is now at a crucial stage of social and economic integration following the establishment of a Customs Union in 2005, a Common Market in 2010 and the signing of the Monetary Union protocol in 2013 and which has since been ratified by all the partner states.
It should be noted that regional economic groupings such as the EAC have the common goal of economic transformation and development which implicitly include the eradication of poverty. This means that economic integration should note be seen as an end in itself, but rather a means towards sustainable economic development.
The EAC today has indeed realised remarkable economic integration as evidenced by the continued growth in intra-regional trade among the Partner States. By creating a single large market that spans a land area of 1.82 million sq. kilometres with a population of over 145 million people, the EAC has and will continue to be an attractive destination for foreign direct investment which will, in turn, spur greater economic growth and the development of the Partner States. The Establishment of the East African Community Customs Union has for instance led to an increase of intra-regional trade. According to recent figures, Uganda’s volume of trade with the EAC Partner States has increased exponentially since the establishment of the Customs Union in 2005 from US$ 670.7 million to US$1539.9 Million in the 2014/15 financial year.
But, in addition to celebrating the achievements of the EAC, it is vital to evaluate whether the circumstances leading to the initial challenges of the EAC of 1967-1977 have been adequately addressed and what measures have been put in place to mitigate a recurrence. Whereas political will continues to present a serious challenge for many regional integration arrangements, this has by and large not been a serious problem for the EAC. It is indeed unprecedented that the EAC is the only regional bloc whose establishment clearly brings out political federation as its ultimate objective. Federating will not only fortify the EAC as a bloc but it will also empower the region to play a meaningful role in the era of globalization and enhance our bargaining strength in bilateral as well as multilateral negotiations.
Regional arrangements face and will continue face challenges along the way of integration. It should therefore not be of any surprise to anyone that the EAC still has a lot to do as aptly encapsulated in the theme for this year’s celebrations; 16 Years of EAC Integration: So Much Done, So Much to Do.
For our economies to become vibrant and successful there is need to implement adequate tax and social security reforms as well as policies that will contribute to the expansion of the private sector, create jobs and increase productivity levels. We have to deal with the scourge of corruption and to strengthen regional as well as national institutions to promote the rule of law. We have to address the infrastructure deficits including those that deliver basic essentials such as access to clean water and sanitation. Good health is a premium and so too is education which need to be galvanized at primary, secondary and university levels through adequate funding, staffing and facilities. Energy and durable transportation networks need to be built whilst tourism, a potentially huge foreign-exchange earner, need to be aggressively promoted.
Therefore, as a Community we need steadfastness to adopt harmonized economic policies that would enhance a collective approach in tackling them. Indeed, if regional integration must succeed, then regional policies must take eminence over domestic policies and programmes.
The writer is the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of EAC affairs.
“Embrace your Opportunity”
A data facility, an information centre- a one stop centre for all information on EAC matters.
The Ministry of EAC Affairs Resource Centre was officially launched by Minister of Information & National Guidance Ms Rose Namayanja Nsereko in July 2014 at the Ministry Main Board room level 9.
The centre has since attracted students doing research and others seeking EAC information for different reasons. Many people have come to the Resource center asking questions that range from their individual benefits to the general milestones of the process of integration.
Utilizing the information provided for in this Resource Centre, making research from it and also collecting data as and when, enables every interested person to fully participate and be a part of many developmental openings in the EAC.
Majorly set to attract students and business community persons in and around Kampala, the MEACA resource centre has both understandable and user-friendly information on EAC integration process.
At the time of its inception, the Resource centre was a relief because the Ministry of EAC Affairs had a challenge of low levels of awareness across the country. Ugandans didn’t know much about the EAC. Things have since changed and there has been a shift in knowledge with awareness levels shooting from 32% in 2010 to 66% in 2012.
The MEACA resource centre has various resources which include EAC documentations and publications, Partner States official publications, former EAC publications, general textbooks, publications on regional and international organizations, periodicals including professional journals, newspapers/articles, audio-visual collection and internet resources and databases.
The Ministry of EAC’s mandate is to “steer Uganda’s regional integration agenda in accordance with the objectives of the Treaty for Establishment of East African Community,” and also the Ministry exists to “ensure that Ugandans benefit from the East African Community integration.”
Come and visit the physical Resource Centre located on the 9th Floor of the Postal Building Yusuf Lule Road.
The 5 EAC Heads of State Signed the Monetary Union Protocol in Kampala November 2013
EAC INTEGRATION AT A GLANCE
Objective No. 2 of the treaty establishing the EAC provides that, “the Partner States undertake to establish among themselves and in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty, a Customs Union, a Common Market, subsequently a Monetary Union and ultimately a Political Federation in order to strengthen and regulate the industrial, commercial, infrastructural, cultural, social, political and other relations of the Partner States to the end that there shall be accelerated, harmonious and balanced development and sustained expansion of economic activities, the benefit of which shall be equitably shared”. Accordingly, the realisation of the four pillars of integration has reached this far:
Customs Union: (Came into effect, 2005)
In the theory of economic integration, a Customs Union is supposed to be the third stage of integration after a Preferential Trade Area and a Free Trade Area.
However, the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community provides that a Customs Union shall be the first stage in the process of economic integration. Therefore, real economic integration in the region commenced with the coming into being of the Customs Union.
The Protocol for the Establishment of the East African Community Customs Union was signed by the three East African Heads of State on 2 March 2004 in Arusha, Tanzania. The Republics of Rwanda and Burundi joined the Customs Union in 2008 and started applying its instruments in July 2009.
The Customs Union allows East Africa to operate as a free trade area where Partner States reduce or eliminate taxes on goods originating from within the community and have a common tariff on goods imported from other countries. It has resulted into the increase of volumes of intra EAC trade and the sustained GDP growth rate in all the partner states averaging 6% annually for the last 10 years.
Common Market: (Effective 1st July 2010)
The Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Community (EAC) Common Market entered into force on 1 July 2010, following ratification by all the five Partner States: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The Protocol was signed by the Heads of States on 20 November 2009, coinciding with the 10th Anniversary celebrations of the revived Community.
The establishment of the East African Community Common Market is in line with the provisions of the EAC Treaty. It provides for “Four Freedoms”, namely the free movement of goods; labour; services; and capital, which will significantly boost trade and investments and make the region more productive and prosperous.
The Common Market represents the second stage of the regional integration process (as defined by the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community), following the Customs Union, which became fully-fledged in January 2010.
Monetary Union: (Signed November 2013)
This will serve to transform the East African economy to operate with a common currency. This is to enhance the efficiency and performance of the Customs Union and Common Market.
Political Federation: (Last Stage)
This is a proposed political union of the five sovereign states of the East African Community – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – as a single federated sovereign state. EAC Partner States shall arrange to have a Regional Political Union and harmonized operations. This will be fulfilled after the creation of a Single Policy Centre
• Population 143.5 million people (2014),
• Land area of 1.82 million sq. kilometres
• Gross Domestic Product (GDP) $110.3 billion (2014),
Ministry of East African Community Affairs (MEACA)
2nd & 9th Floor, Postel Building
Plot, 67/75 Yusuf Lule Road, Kampala
P.O.Box 7343, Kampala,Uganda
Telephone: +256 0414 340100
Fax: +256 0414 348171
The main function of the Department is to coordinate and follow up key political and legal matters in Uganda and ensure their implementation in line with the EAC regional integration and harmonization efforts.
The Department is headed by a Commissioner and is responsible for the following functions:
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