About East Africa

History & Future of East Africa Community

The East African Community

Brief History of East African Community: Part I

The East Africa Community has been an unperfected dream for Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, its foremost members. Yet, even with a stalemate over complete integration, it has rolled on right with great benefits. The rift, if ever one existed and needed to be bridged, grew exponentially at the turn of the 1980’s, to what many think was an irreconcilable divergence. The open secret of the differences was not the making of any of the three nations. The East African Community was revivified in 1967 as a customs union between Kenya and Uganda, followed by the joining of Tanganyika (or Tanzania) in 1968. The economic integration was jigged in 1967, and collapsed in 1977 due to political disparities. Perhaps, the rise of General Idi Amin as president of Uganda, toppling Milton Obote in a terse military takeover, was what broke the camel’s back. Julius Nyerere, then President of Tanganyika, firmly declined any further relation with Uganda for as long as General Idi Amin was her cockswain. And correspondingly, the East African Community fell into disarray, signified by the winding down of the East African Railway and East African Airways, which were jointly run by the three states. The latter, in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, was renamed to Kenya Airways.

Still and all, the three states remain friendly neighbours, with a great deal of the incentive treaties in effect. It is, all said and done, a great source of pride for the governments and citizenry to be associated with the East African Community. And nowhere perhaps are these friendly relations seen in fine bloom than at the more than 50 shared border-point with an open-policy. The same sentiment is embodies in the unfeigned East African Community Anthem: “Oh God we pray, for preservation of the East African Community; Enable us to live in peace; May we fulfill our objectives”. Then again, away from business and diplomacy: What binds the East Africa Community together is far greater than what separates it. While we do know that economic growth has been fueled by the confidence of consumers, businesses and investors in the unity of the region, the cultures, landscapes, resources, beliefs, history and ancestry of East Africa is the merciful padlock which clutches East Africa together. It seem like a strange thought for anyone to ever worry about the future prosperity of the East Africa Community.

The tiny "Rock Hotel" in Zanzibar Island, Tanzania.  Photo Courtesy.
The tiny “Rock Hotel” in Zanzibar Island, Tanzania. Image Courtesy.

The New East African Community

The new East African Community Co-operation was created in November 1999 as a regional intergovernmental organisation of six partner countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda; with the headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. “Burundi and Rwanda became members in 2007 while South Sudan gained accession in April 2016. Fortified by their historical links, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania had established strong economic cooperation by laying the groundwork for further political, economic and social integration of the EAC”. The Community has a number of semi-autonomous institutions that help it implement its endorsement, three of which became operational in July 2015. Collectively, the EAC encourages the marketing of the Community as a Single Tourist Destination while conserving and perpetuating sustainable utilization of wildlife and other tourist sites, among the twenty other sectors of collaboration.

The East African Community Anthem

East African Anthem, performed by Cathrine Mbinya

Milestones of East African Community Integration

30 November 1993: 1st Summit of East African Heads of State sign Agreement establishing the Permanent Tripartite Commission for East African Co-operation in Kampala, Uganda.
14 March 1996: Secretariat of the Commission for East African Co-operation launched in Arusha, Tanzania.
28 April 1997: EAC Member States sign Tripartite Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation.
29 April 1997: 2nd Summit of the East African Co-operation Heads of State is held in Arusha, Tanzania; 1st East African Co-operation Development Strategy (1997-2000), East African Flag and East African Passport launched; and Permanent Tripartite Commission mandated to embark on process of upgrading EAC Agreement into Treaty.
30 April 1998: 9th Meeting of the Permanent Tripartite Commission in Arusha launches a draft Treaty for Establishment of the East African Community; approves programme for its wide publicity; EAC Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in Defence signed in Arusha; Tripartite Agreement on Road Transport signed in Arusha; and Inland Waterway Transport Agreement signed in Arusha.
30 November 1999: 4th Summit held in Arusha at which Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community is signed.
7 July 2000: Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community enters into force; new regional organisation, the East African Community, comes into being.
15 January 2001: 1st Summit of the East African Community is held in Arusha; signs Protocols on: Rules of Procedure for the Summit of Heads of State; Rules of Procedure for the Admission of other countries to the East African Community; and formally launches the East African Community at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium in Arusha.
30 November 2001: 3rd Summit of EAC held in Arusha; EAC Heads of State inaugurate EA Legislative Assembly and EA Court of Justice.
2 March 2004: EAC Summit signs Protocol for EAC Customs Union.
1 January 2005: EAC Customs Union becomes operational.
18 June 2007: Rwanda and Burundi accede to EAC Treaty.
1 July 2007: Rwanda and Burundi become full members of the EAC.
5 June 2007: Second Assembly (EALA) sworn in.
22 October 2008: First EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite Summit held in Kampala, Uganda. Discusses single Free Trade Area and merger of the three regional blocs.
1 July 2009: Rwanda and Burundi join the EAC Customs Union. Official launch ceremonies held simultaneously in the two countries’ capitals on 6 July 2009.
20 November 2009: Protocol for the Establishment of the EAC Common Market signed; climax of observance of EAC 10th Anniversary celebrations; laying of foundation stone for EAC Headquarters in Arusha.
1 January 2010: EAC’s fully-fledged Customs Union takes effect following the end of a five-year transitional period.
1 July 2010: EAC Common Market Protocol enters into force, following ratification by all the five EAC Partner States.
3 December 2010: EAC Summit of Heads of State adopts the EAC Anthem.
12 June 2011: Second COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa; agrees to start negotiations for a Grand Free Trade Area among the three blocs.
5 June 2012: Third Assembly (EALA) sworn in.
28 November 2012: Presidents of the EAC Partner States officially inaugurate the new EAC Headquarters in Arusha.
30 November 2013: Protocol for the Establishment of the EAC Monetary Union signed.
16 April 2016: The Republic of South Sudan joins the EAC.
5 September 2016: The Republic of South Sudan becomes a full member of the EAC
Timeline Courtesy of EAC as cited in the EAC Milestone Timeline