Uganda is one of the founding members and a signatory to the East African Community (EAC) treaty. EAC is a regional intergovernmental organisation of seven Partner States namely: the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Uganda. The work of the EAC is guided by its Treaty which established the Community. It was signed on 30th November, 1999 and entered into force on 7 July 2000 following its ratification by the original three Partner States - Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Burundi acceded to the EAC Treaty on 18 June 2007 and became full Members of the Community with effect from 1 July 2007. The Republic of South Sudan acceded to the Treaty on 15 April 2016 and become a full Member on 15 August 2016. Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) formally joined the East African Community (EAC) following the signing of the Treaty of the Accession into the EAC in April, 2022. EAC is home to an estimated 283.7 million citizens, of which over 30% is urban population. With a land area of 4.8 million square kilometres and a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$ 305.3 billion, its realisation bears great strategic and geopolitical significance and prospects for the renewed and reinvigorated EAC.
The EAC operationalizes the Treaty through medium-term development strategies. The 1st Development Strategy covered the period 1997 -2000 and focused on the re-launching of the EAC, a period usually referred to as the confidence building phase. The 2nd Development Strategy covered the period 2001 -2005 and mainly focused on the establishment of the EAC Customs Union and laying the groundwork for the Common Market. The 3rd Development Strategy (2006 – 2010) prioritized the establishment of the EAC Common Market and while the 4th Development Strategy covering the period July 2011 to June 2016 mainly focused on the implementation of the EAC Common Market and the establishment of the EAC Monetary Union. EAC is currently implementing its fifth development strategy (2016/17 - 2020/21) which aims to “build a firm foundation for transforming the East African Community into a stable, competitive and sustainable lower middle income region by 2021”. Currently, EAC is implementing the 6th Development Startegy (2021/22-2025/26) and it seeks to focus on infrastructure development, human capital for long term skills development, consolidation of the EAC Common Market, funding of regional initiatives, strengthening the financing and banking systems, expanding savings and investment, Research & Development (R&D) and security and governance.
The Customs Union
This is first regional integration milestone, and became fully fledged in 2010. Under this pillar, EAC Partner States agreed to establish free trade (or zero duty imposed) on goods and services amongst themselves and agreed on a Common External Tariff (CET), whereby imports from countries outside the EAC zone are subjected to the same tariff when sold to any EAC Partner State. Goods moving freely within the EAC however are expected to comply with the EAC Rules of Origin and all other provisions of the Protocol for the Establishment of the East African Community Customs Union.
EAC African Community inked a Joint Action Plan with India in readiness for Mutual Recognition Agreement to facilitate faster clearance times for accredited traders in August 2021. The signing of a Joint Action Plan between the EAC and the Government of India will seek to benefit traders from the EAC region in terms of faster clearance of their goods and lower costs of running their business. The Joint Action Plan will pave the way for a full Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between the two parties. Once realised, the MRA will benefit companies under the Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) Programme run by the EAC Partner States under the coordination of the EAC Secretariat since 2008.
In July, 2022 EAC and GIZ launch joint project on easing the movement of Engineers in the EAC region. The East African Community and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), after signing the respective Government and Implementation Agreements, jointly launched the new project Digitalisation for East African Trade and Integration (DIGEAT) with an official ceremony at the EAC Secretariat. Under this agreement, the German Government committed EUR 3,000,000 through the initiative Digital Africa, which harnesses digital applications to achieve development goals. DIGEAT aims to simplify the cross-border movement of engineers to render their services in all EAC Partner States. To achieve this objective, the project will improve the relevant regulatory framework and the necessary digital services and tools.
In July, 2022, EAC Heads of State officially launched the 42.4 km EAC Arusha bypass in Arusha. Tanzania that is part of the multinational Arusha-Holili/Taveta-Voi road that links Northern Tanzania to the Kenyan port city of Mombasa. The Arusha bypass is the first phase of a project that was constructed to decongest traffic in Arusha and Moshi towns in addition to promoting intra-regional trade. The scope for Phase II is as follows: dualling from Tengeru to USA River (10.1km) part of the Moshi urban roads (8.4km); new Kikavu bridge (560m long) and 4km approach roads (realignment of the road). The financing for Phase II has been entered between the Government of Japan Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the United Republic of Tanzania with a financing agreement (soft loan) worth 24.31 Million Yen which is equivalent to TShs413.858 billion. (Source: https://www.eac.int/press-releases/150-infrastructure/2536-eac-heads-of-state-launch-eac-arusha-bypass)
The Common Market
The second regional integration milestone, came into force in 2010. It requires EAC Partner States to maintain a liberal stance towards the five Freedoms of movement for all the factors of production and two Rights between themselves. These Freedoms and Rights include:
- Free Movement of Goods
- Free Movement of Persons
- Free Movement of Labour / Workers
- Right of Establishment
- Right of Residence
- Free Movement of Services
- Free Movement of Capital
EAC Partner States have kept momentum in facilitating free movement of goods, services, labour and capital.
The East African Monetary Union
This is the third regional integration milestone, which came into force in November 2013. It lays groundwork for a monetary union within 10 years and allows the EAC Partner States to progressively converge their currencies into a single currency in the Community. In the run-up to achieving a single currency, the EAC Partner States aim to harmonise monetary and fiscal policies; harmonise financial, payment and settlement systems; harmonise financial accounting and reporting practices; harmonise policies and standards on statistical information; and, establish an East African Central Bank. So far, significant progress has been recorded in terms of Partner States currencies convertibility; harmonization of banking rules and regulations, fiscal and monetary policies, and trading practices and regulations in the Stock Exchanges.
In July, 2022, the East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO) organized a Virtual training workshop targeting university students in East Africa under the theme: “Entrepreneurship Skills Training for Creativity and Job Creation”. The objective of the training was to provide skills and entrepreneurship development for creativity and job creation, targeting university students in order to provide them with an opportunity to apply their skills to develop innovative business ideas and also to enable the students to develop entrepreneurial competencies and practical business management skills. , Participants were also able to develop business plans during the training.
EAC signs MoU with Arcadia University, USA, to operationalise the Nyerere Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution in Arusha, Tanzania. In September 2022, EAC and Arcadia University, USA, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate in the operationalization of the Nyerere Center for Peace and Conflict resolution in Arusha, Tanzania. The MoU was signed at the Arcadia University, Pennsylvania, USA, establishes the framework for operations of the Nyerere Center for Peace Research and the terms of the operational partnership between the EAC, the International Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) program at Arcadia University, and the American Graduate School for International Relations and Diplomacy.