The East African Community (EAC) is an intergovernmental organisation composed of seven countries in the Great Lakes region of East Africa: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Republic of Tanzania, the Republics of Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda. Évariste Ndayishimiye, the president of Burundi, is the current EAC chairman. The organisation was founded in 1967, collapsed in 1977, and was revived on 7 July 2000.
In 2008, after negotiations with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the EAC agreed to an expanded free trade area including the member states of all three organizations. The EAC is an integral part of the African Economic Community.
The capital of the EAC is Arusha, Tanzania.
The EAC is a potential precursor to the establishment of the East African Federation, a proposed federation of its members into a single sovereign state. In 2010, the EAC launched its own common market for goods, labour, and capital within the region, with the goal of creating a common currency and eventually a full political federation. In 2013, a protocol was signed outlining their plans for launching a monetary union within 10 years. In September 2018, a committee was formed to begin the process of drafting a regional constitution.
Formation and re-formationEdit
Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda have cooperated with each other since the early 20th century. The East African Currency Board provided a common currency from 1919 to 1966. The customs union between Kenya and Uganda in 1917, which Tanganyika joined in 1927, was followed by the East African High Commission (EAHC) from 1948 to 1961, the East African Common Services Organization (EACSO) from 1961 to 1967, and the EAC from 1967 to 1977. Burundi and Rwanda joined the EAC on 6 July 2009.
Inter-territorial co-operation between the Kenya Colony, the Uganda Protectorate, and the Tanganyika Territory was formalised in 1948 by the EAHC. This provided a customs union, a common external tariff, currency, and postage. It also dealt with common services in transport and communications, research, and education. Following independence, these integrated activities were reconstituted and the EAHC was replaced by the EACSO, which many observers thought would lead to a political federation between the three territories. The new organisation ran into difficulties because of the lack of joint planning and fiscal policy, separate political policies, and Kenya’s dominant economic position. In 1967, the EACSO was superseded by the EAC. This body aimed to strengthen the ties between the members through a common market, a common customs tariff, and a range of public services to achieve balanced economic growth within the region.
In 1977, the EAC collapsed. The causes of the collapse included demands by Kenya for more seats than Uganda and Tanzania in decision-making organs, disagreements with Ugandan dictator Idi Amin who demanded that Tanzania as a member state of the EAC should not harbour forces fighting to topple the government of another member state, and the disparate economic systems of socialism in Tanzania and capitalism in Kenya. The three member states lost over sixty years of co-operation and the benefits of economies of scale, although some Kenyan government officials celebrated the collapse with champagne.
Presidents Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, Ali Hassan Mwinyi of Tanzania, and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda signed the Treaty for East African Co-operation in Kampala on 30 November 1993 and established a Tri-partite Commission for Co-operation. A process of re-integration was embarked on involving tripartite programmes of co-operation in political, economic, social and cultural fields, research and technology, defence, security, and legal and judicial affairs.
The EAC was revived on 30 November 1999, when the treaty for its re-establishment was signed. It came into force on 7 July 2000, 23 years after the collapse of the previous community and its organs. A customs union was signed in March 2004, which commenced on 1 January 2005. Kenya, the region’s largest exporter, continued to pay duties on goods entering the other four countries on a declining scale until 2010. A common system of tariffs will apply to goods imported from third-party countries. On 30 November 2016 it was declared that the immediate aim would be confederation rather than federation.
South Sudan accessionEdit
The presidents of Kenya and Rwanda invited the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan to apply for membership upon the independence of South Sudan in 2011, and South Sudan was reportedly an applicant country as of mid-July 2011. Analysts suggested that South Sudan’s early efforts to integrate infrastructure, including rail links and oil pipelines, with systems in Kenya and Uganda indicated intention on the part of Juba to pivot away from dependence on Sudan and toward the EAC. Reuters considers South Sudan the likeliest candidate for EAC expansion in the short term, and an article in Tanzanian daily The Citizen that reported East African Legislative Assembly Speaker Abdirahin Haithar Abdi said South Sudan was “free to join the EAC” asserted that analysts believe the country will soon become a full member of the regional body.
On 17 September 2011, the Daily Nation quoted a South Sudanese MP as saying that while his government was eager to join the EAC, it would likely delay its membership over concerns that its economy was not sufficiently developed to compete with EAC member states and could become a “dumping ground” for Kenyan, Tanzanian, and Ugandan exports. This was contradicted by President Salva Kiir, who announced South Sudan had begun the application process one month later. The application was deferred by the EAC in December 2012, however incidents with Ugandan boda-boda operators in South Sudan have created political tension and may delay the process.
In December 2012, Tanzania agreed to South Sudan’s bid to join the EAC, clearing the way for the world’s newest state to become the regional bloc’s sixth member. In May 2013 the EAC set aside US$82,000 for the admission of South Sudan into the bloc even though admission may not happen until 2016. The process, to start after the EAC Council of Ministers meeting in August 2013, was projected to take at least four years. At the 14th Ordinary Summit held in Nairobi in 2012, EAC heads of state approved the verification report that was presented by the Council of Ministers, then directed it to start the negotiation process with South Sudan.
South Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, claimed publicly in October 2015 that, following evaluations and meetings of a special technical committee in May, June, August, September and October, the committee has recommended that South Sudan be allowed to join the East African Community. Those recommendations, however, had not been released to the public. It was reported that South Sudan could be admitted as early as November 2015 when the heads of East African States had their summit meeting.
South Sudan was eventually approved for membership to the bloc in March 2016, and signed a treaty of accession in April 2016. It had six months to ratify the agreement, which it did on 5 September, at which point it formally acceded to the community. It does not yet participate to the same extent as the other members.[timeframe?]
Democratic Republic of the Congo accessionEdit
In 2010, Tanzanian officials expressed interest in inviting the Democratic Republic of the Congo to join the East African Community. The DRC applied for admission to the EAC in June 2019. In June 2021, the EAC Summit launched a verification mission to assess the suitability of the DRC for admission to the Community, and has since drafted a report on their findings which is ready for submission to the EAC Council of Ministers. On 23 November 2021: Ministers in charge of East African Community (EAC) Affairs have recommended for consideration by the EAC Heads of States the report of the verification team on the application by The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to join the Community. In February 2022, the EAC Council of Ministers recommended that the DRC be admitted as a new member state of the EAC. On 18 March 2022, the EAC Secretary-General Dr Peter Mathuki confirmed that the Heads of State would approve the admission on 29 March 2022. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was admitted as a member of the EAC on 29 March 2022, at a virtual Head of State summit chaired by Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, and officially become a member of the East African Community on 11 July 2022 after depositing the instrument of ratification with the EAC Secretary General at the bloc’s headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The accession of the DRC gives the EAC its first port on the West African coast.