By Jedidah Nguyo with Ogova Ondego
Published April 6, 2015
East African Community, the regional intergovernmental organization bringing together Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, is making big steps in its efforts to become a regional economic bloc in eastern Africa is seen in the desire of neighbouring countries like Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia to join it. The economy of the region has grown significantly as foreign direct investment continues to flow across the region.
But this relatively peaceful region that was set for economic prosperity and improved quality of life of the people through increased competition, value added production, trade and investment, not only lives under the shadow of the Somali terror group, al-Shabaab, but is also surrounded by conflict-prone countries like Congo-Kinshasa, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia, not to mention the increasing threat of religious conflicts between Muslims and Christians.
Other challenges the EAC is facing are high level corruption, organised crime, human trafficking, small arms and light weapons smuggling, drug trafficking, wildlife poaching, cattle rustling, bridging the gap between agreed policies and approved protocols at the regional level and their implementation by partner states, and ever growing reluctance among the five partner states in not ceding their national sovereignty to the inter-governmental EAC.
These are some f the challenges that Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) which has since 1998 been supporting EAC in its economic, social and cultural integration and political federation process, highlights in its 54-page evaluation report titled Regional Policy Development – Inclusion of Civil Society and Private Sector – Institutional Strengthening: GIZ Cooperation with the Secretariat of the East African Community (EAC) Support to the East African Community Integration process, 2009-2012.
The 2013-published report looks at the activities undertaken by the secretariat of the EAC with the support of GIZ between 2009 and 2012.
Among the activities included in the report as being part of the efforts of enhancing EAC integration are training of journalists and photographers on regional integration, tracking of physical and electronic data within the EAC Secretariat, consultative participation and inclusiveness of the private sector and civil society organizations within EAC affairs, fair taxation of cross border income and activities, gender equity in EAC’s policies and strategies, launch of EAC partnership Fund (PF) for enhancing regional integration and socio-economic development, and recognition of academic and professional qualifications across the region.
EAC is one of the eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs) that the continental African Union (AU) has officially recognised as one of the building blocks that will facilitate the all-Africa integration and African Economic Community (AEC).
Other REC pillars of the AEC are Community of Sahelo-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Arab Maghreb Union (UMA).