Thursday, November 29, 2012
The East Africa Community is a logical step forward for its member states and is probably the best thing that has happened to the region since the independence of the individual member states from colonialism. When the three original partner states; Kenya, Uganda and the Tanzania signed the treaty that brought fourth the East African Community on 30TH November 1999 and its subsequent coming to force on 7th July 2000, they brought into being an entity that was both; novel and a requisite of the times. The formation of the East African Community was a prudent decision, informed both by history and reason. For as evident suggests, integration amongst the peoples and communities within the boarders of Eastern Africa Community predated pre-colonial history.
A peep through history shows us that the East African Community has been one region, after all the indigenous populace within the EAC share common ancestral history. History also shows that there was a fluidity that characterized movement of goods and people within the EAC region especially before the advent of colonialism, well apart from wild game and terrain there was no form of state or state infrastructure that specifically prohibited people and goods from moving around, trading or any other form of interaction for that, matter. It was the partition of Africa into formalized states that put artificial strains to the natural order of free movement in Africa and the Eastern Africa region for that matter. It was this free movement of goods and people that attracted the; the Chinese, the Arabs and layer the Europeans to the East African coast, knowing to well that they could access goods sourced from the rich East African hinterland with relative ease.
“the balkanization of Africa into 53, mostly sub-optimal states, has meant that Africa cannot have a large market under one Political Authority; have no power to negotiate with the rest of the world, This balkanization must stop,”
The EAC has tried to re-establish that free movement of people and goods. That unbridled exchange of goods and movement of goods was an anchor of pre-colonial society in the Eastern Africa region which had a developed market systems well before the colonialists came. Increased intra-regional trade has been beneficial in lowering the rate of inflation as the cost of key consumables especially food has come down substantially. This in effect means that we might have within ourselves the solutions to perennial and potentially debilitating problems like, famine for Kenya especially taking into consideration that Kenya’s neighbor Uganda is not as food poor as Kenya.
I say the EAC is a necessity of the times now more than ever because the global economic climate teeters on uncertainty and the 2008 global economic meltdown amplifies this fact. The EAC provides an adequate regional market that somewhat makes the countries in the block insular to global economic shocks yet allows them to sensibly enjoy the fruits of globalization. Indeed the benign lesson from the global financial meltdown for the developing world and particularly Africa for that matter is that Africa cannot continue relying on Western economies and western consumers as sole target markets for Africa. As such the EAC is timely in that it provides a large regional market, giving producers in the region multiple choices.
The EAC also provides an opportunity for the countries to deal with common problems like security. The region deals with shared threats, Burundi and Uganda have contributed to Amisom peace keeping force in Somalia in their quest to exterminate the Al-shabab terrorism threat, which poses a threat to regional stability.
The EAC has been involved in strengthening the governments of neighboring fragile countries and institutions and of neighboring countries in an effort of to improve the security situations in these countries and generally prevent the insecurity from spilling over into the region.
Although the countries within the EAC are culturally homogenous, the advent of a new identity, i.e identifying oneself as an; ‘East African’ might help push the issues such as ethnicity to the periphery. A new identity for the citizens within the EAC community is desirable; it could heal the fissures of ethnicity that have in past bogged down our development to the pinnacle of economic and human development.
The EAC also gives the members states a platform for collective bargaining; it allows the member countries to have the wherewithal to extract more from multi-lateral negotiations and trade agreements. As President Yoweri Museveni once said,
The EAC has also ushered in a new age of seamless travel of goods and people within the region. This coupled with myriads of other measures taken to ensure that non-tariff barriers to trade are reduced to the bare minimum means that goods and services will become less expensive, not to mention the development of physical infrastructure that has accompanied the integration process.
The EAC will also help to eliminate issues such as corruption. Since corruption in any of these countries tends to increase the cost of doing business, individual member states, citizens and other non-state entities will and have already started clamouring for transparency and a zero tolerance towards corruption especially on the transits within the region. Good and efficient and governance within the region might also get realised as countries within the region need to subscribe to a higher governance culture. This in essence means that citizens within these countries should expect better service delivery from their government and other core institutions within the regions.
The East African Community provides a unique opportunity for the countries within the region to approach the future with a sure footing. The countries within the region can enjoy the benefits of globalization with the comfortable auspice of the East African Community that hedges them from unfavourable global market environments. It is also my sincere hope that overtures will be made to rope in new members like the new nation of South Sudan into the community, for the reason of enlargement and diversification of the market.
These are just but a few of the innumerable benefits of the East African Community, which have already been realized or will be realized as we move into a bright and hopeful future.
Posted by Dalle Abraham at 10:18 AM
The Connect, vuka border Facebook inter-university challenge has been a great experience albeit a somewhat disappointing and in some aspects a depressing one. My depression might perhaps be resulting from my deep belief in the EAC course. Meeting people who know next to nothing on EAC issues and the progress made within our university is something that can really be astonishing to any conscious and antipathetic person. The drive amplified the imperative need for a conscious and more robust need for youth engagement in the EAC affairs.
But who is to blame for this?
The political disillusionment and general disenfranchisement that the youth in African States have been caught up in and their lack of concern in how their governments are run has not spared the EAC integration process.
What plans does the EAC have for its youth?
I once asked the plans that the Kenyan Ministry of East African community had for the youth and how far issues affecting the youth have been included in the EAC agenda. Below is the response I received
What plans does MEAC have for the youth in the EAC integration process and what efforts has MEAC undertaken to incorporate youth issues in the EAC process?
A number of professional, civil society, local government associations and youth organizations have formed alliances across borders and meet regularly. The treaty establishing the EAC recognizes the critical role of integrating the key stakeholders such as civil society, women, youth and the private sector in the development agenda of the community with the intention of empowering effective participation of the citizenry in matters of economic development and creating a conducive environment for effective participation.
In connection, the youth, who constitute the largest segment of the population in the EAC, should be accorded proportionate recognition and participation in all national and regional development activities.
EAC’s youth is EAC’s future.
They are not only the leaders of tomorrow but also the future entrepreneurs, innovators, the scientists and technologists, the investors and managers as well as the captains of industry interests. In September 2008, the EAC forum for ministers responsible for social development recommended that to mainstream youth as well as gender issues, in all development policies and programs. The ministers further recommended to EAC council of ministers to establish a youth and children position under existing EAC administrative structure within FY 2009/2010. In the intervening time, the EAC gender and community development department has already requested a budget for an annual youth exchange programme for sharing new opportunities and best practices in business and technology. In order to have clear strategies in the sector, a strategic plan which takes into account youth issues is being developed. Three objectives have been identified:
- To formulate a harmonized comprehensive regional policy that provides a binding framework for effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation of youth programmes and projects
- To empower the youth so that they can fully participate and benefit from the regional economic , social and political integration and,
- To establish a regional mechanism that will promote and sustain youth culture, values, morals and ethics.
Where are we with the EAC integration?
It came out clear that many of the youth don’t even know the full benefits that result from the EAC integration. Exploiting the resultant opportunities becomes hard if one does not know what the integration process has brought to the fore. While one section of East Africa is talking of more integration and is even debating on EAC political federation another section does not even know we have already signed the customs union and the Common Market Protocol despite the ‘people centered approach’ that EAC promise to embrace.
Be posted for the second blog post examining different scenarios with regard to EAC and its youth participation!!
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The establishment of the East African common market is the second step in the regional integration process of East Africa, after the Customs Union, and before the establishment of a Monetary Union and Political Federation.
The East African Common Market has the main principle of accelerating economic growth and development of the Partner States through the attainment of the free movement of goods, persons and labour, the rights of establishment and residence and the free movement of services and capital. This will be attained by providing for the free movement of goods; the free movement of persons; the free movement of labour; the right of establishment; the right of residence; the free movement of services; and the free movement of capital between the five partner states of east Africa.
The common market will greatly enhance the trade between the five partner states, making it cheaper to travel, set up businesses, mergers and subsidiaries between companies and businesses between the five partner states.
The free movement of persons and labor will be attained by providing for the standard identification systems, travel documents, free movement of workers, harmonization and mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications, and harmonization of labor policies, laws and programmes. In the education sector, this will increase the competition between the higher schools of learning, and students will be able to do their courses of choice at affordable rates, and hence pursue the degrees of their dreams.
The right of establishment and residence means that a citizen of East African Community will be able to live anywhere in the region and be accorded the rights and privileges given to a citizen of the country he is living in. This will provide great incentive for the citizens of East African community to travel and intermingle, sharing their experiences with each other, improving business links and social ties within the citizens of all partner countries.
For the common market to work, there will be need for much coordination and cooperation between the governments in terms of financial policy, environmental management, research and collection of statistics, industrial development and agricultural and food security, among other issues. If, and this is a very big if, this can be done, then the East African Common Market will open up opportunities for economic and social cooperation on a scale not seen in Africa before. The benefits and opportunities that the East African common market offers for businessmen, professionals, entrepreneurs and the youth are vast, hence it is imperative for the citizens of East Africa to keep their respective governments in check, and ensure the full and quick implementation of the protocol.
Be informed and be a part of the team that will keep the government on its toes to expedite the full implementation of the common market protocol!
Monday, November 26, 2012
There has not been any other campaign as massive and as important as the EAC Inter-university Social media challenge that aims to bring the youth together, the youth in EAC are the biggest yet often overlooked stakeholder, to bring them together, to give them a platform that is not only youth-driven but also one that is far reaching in its scope is a timely move. The Connect, Vuka Border initiative that is working with the Ministry of EAC and funded by Trade Mark East Africa has given the youth a chance not only to get information on opportunities available in EAC but also ways in which those opportunities are being exploited and what needs to be done by the youth to benefit and exploit all opportunities coming their way as a result of the EAC integration.
Whats more interesting? the initiative is seeking to ingrain an EAC week in the academic and activity calendar of various universities where the universities across the region will commemorate the East African Community in their own ways, this will tremendously boost youth engagement in the whole process of regional integration. To achieve this, there is a massive petition to the various University administration for the inclusion of the EAC week in their academic calender. Over 10,000 petitions have, so far been collected. Be part of this movement. Be an EAC youth. Use the Links below to petition for your University: sign the petition and share this with all in your social network!
University of Nairobi http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/eacweek-uon/
Kenya Methodist http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/eacweek-kemu/
Catholic University http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/eacweek-cuea/
KCA University http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/eacweek-kca/
Kenya Polytechnic UC http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/eacweek-kpuc