Brief on the East African Community (Part One)

1.0 Introduction

The Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community was signed by the three Heads of State in Arusha on 30th November, 1999 and entered into force on 7th July, 2000.

The East African countries, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda cover an area of over 1.82 million square kilometers, a population of about 126.6 million who share a common history, language, culture and infrastructure and a combined GDP of 73 billion US dollars. These advantages provide the Partner States with a unique framework for regional co-operation and integration.

Prior to re-launching the East African Community in 1999, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda had enjoyed a long history of co-operation under successive regional integration arrangements. These included the Customs Union between Kenya and Uganda in 1917, which the then Tanganyika later joined in 1927; the East African High Commission (1948-1961); the East African Common Services Organization (1961-1967); and the defunct East African Community (1967-1977). The revival of EAC witnessed an expansion with the joining of Rwanda and Burundi in June, 2007.

2.0 The Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community

Signed in November, 1999 the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC is informed by the EAC Development Strategy of 1997-2000, which tried to avoid the shortcomings associated with the earlier integration initiative. It also took into account the ongoing globalization process, as exemplified by the intensification of competition brought about by the liberalization of international trade and financial market systems. It is in this context therefore that the Treaty emphasizes that:

i. The objective of the Community shall be to develop policies and programmes aimed at widening and deepening co-operation among the Partner States in political, economic, social and cultural fields, research and technology, defence, security and legal and judicial affairs, for their mutual benefit;

ii. To achieve these objectives, one of the important guiding principles of the Community shall be people centered and market driven co-operation;

iii. The priority of the Community shall be economic co-operation, which is expected to form the basis for political co-operation in the long term;

iv. The integration process shall be carried out in a participatory manner, involving broad participation of key stakeholders including women, youth, private sector and the civil society;

v. The Vision of regional integration in East Africa is to create wealth, raise the living standards of all people of East Africa and enhance the international competitiveness of the region through increased production, trade and investments;

vi. The East African regional integration process shall be a progressive process, commencing with a Customs Union as the entry point to the Community followed by a Common Market, then a Monetary Union and ultimately a Political Federation; and

vii. Movement from one level of economic integration to another shall be through negotiated protocols, starting with that on the establishment of an EAC Customs Union.

3.0 Organs & Institutions of the EAC

The main Organs of the EAC are the Summit of Heads of State and Government; Council of Ministers; Co-ordination Committee; Sectoral Committees; East African Court of Justice (EACJ), East African Legislative Assembly (EALA); the Secretariat and EAC Institutions that include the following:

– The Lake Victoria Basin Commission
– Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA)
– Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization
– Inter-University Council for East Africa
– East African Development Bank

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