East African Community could learn from EU

Posted on October 17, 2014 12:09 am

The five-member Association of East African Nations could learn from the European Union in its drive toward a single market according to your blogger.Me thinks East African region could learn much from the experience of the European Union in forging an integrated economy for the region and would be better off learning “more from the EU mistakes rather that the beneficial ones.” East African community is much less homogenous than Europe, and that it was also imperative that all countries realised there would need to be a political commitment to actually move forward. In my opinion,there would be a need for sacrifices by each participating country for the greater good.In some studies I have been reading, experience has shown that some integration, in terms of product standardisation and acceptance, had already taken place in some sectors especially cosmetic products where its common to see MOVIT products from Uganda in Kenyan and Rwandan markets.Same can be said of Tanzania’s Azam whose products are available in the five East African countries.The same model, me thinks, should be used in promoting integration in other sectors. “Start small, take time,” would be my advice to the technocrats.Successes in specific sectors in the region could be more easily used as a example of the benefit of the an integrated market. Only buffoons would argue that East African Community states entry into an integrated market would have failed had it not been incremental.

The lesson from the European Union that I would draw for East African countries is the tremendous push from the domestic sector, including private and individual business, for market integration. There is still much that can be done to increase transnational trade within the five countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. Export growth is said to declining, to economies that make up the East African Community, a main destination for Chinese and India exports. Exports have been a critical driver of growth for East African region, compared to what you see in other regions in Africa. The intra-regional trade and investment could provide an alternative route to growth, but that had not been the case so far. As East African economies grow, they are actually exporting less within the region compared to what they export outside the region especially to Europe.However, while some progress has been made, there is more to be done in terms of unifying the region’s economies in my thinking.The case for economic integration had to be rooted in the aims of creating better jobs and enhancing competitiveness. And that is a domestic issue the governments of Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and Kenya should address.The member nations of East African region should address the problems within their borders that hindered economic integration.To mention but a few, there is huge disparity in poverty, education, welfare, legal systems, infrastructure and connectivity.Internet in the region still remains beyond the affordable levels for both business and individuals.

Contador Harrison