East African Community: A rising regional economic power
Gone are the days when democracy and reforms were a top priority for the citizens of East Africa. Since the revival of East African Community, a regional body that oversees integration process of five member states that consist of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, a slew of predominantly good news with regard to the regional economies and the transformation agenda has made the 135 million plus citizens of the region look forward with optimism. In all five countries, there has been significant increase in household income. As a keen watcher of the region, I can unashamedly state that compared to five years ago, there has been an improvement in quality of life and poverty has shrunk to noticeable levels. With exception of early last year, all countries have enjoyed low inflation rate. There is no denying that more and more East Africans are feeling positive impact of the regional cooperation. Thanks to hard work, dedication and cooperation from all five member states political leadership and the unwavering effort of the business community and policymakers, there has been a better standard and quality of life for the majority of East Africans.
The region’s balanced approach to development, which combines high income with sustainability and inclusiveness, is what provide East Africans with a sense of perspective about development. The population has benefited greatly from the regional transformation policy and despite what the critics might say, these benefits are extended and felt across all spectrum of the region. However, there are areas where region has fallen short and one of them is quality of education. Earlier this year, Tanzania’s minister for education announced that more than half of country’s last year secondary education candidates failed. When it comes to university and college education, the region is a laggard compared to South Africa, the continent’s pacesetter. There is also need to fight corruption and address the rising cost of living as a result of economic growth and frankly, much remains to be done on those two issues. East African Community is a manifestation of a successful regional cooperation that has become the envy of moribund regional blocks like SADC and ECOWAS.
This has largely been to meticulous planning and effective development policies that have turned member states from over-reliant agriculture based economies to a modern consumer driven economies. Economic growths witnessed in the region over the past decade, is a clear cut case of how East African countries have maintained their regional resilience amidst external factors like the global economic recession four years ago. Respected international organizations studies have highlighted the region’s economic and social transformations. Most have pointed out to the East Africa’s region as the best place to invest in sub Saharan Africa, based on its un-paralleled growth over the past five years with Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania all reporting over five per cent growth. My views on East African Community rise, are premised on hard data gathered through my authoritative channels in the region. Most economic data I scrutinized, indicate that the region’s economy is on track to propel the East Africa countries into a middle income states by 2025 at the very latest.