CHALLENGES TO THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY INTEGRATION PROCESS: A CASE OF POOR SEQUENCING

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A precise definition of the term ‘integration’ is both elusive and difficult. This is due to the fact that integration can be described as an outcome, as a dynamic process or as a combination of both a process and an outcome. A working definition, for the purpose of this paper, is the coming together of previously autonomous states to work in concert as one.

There are states attempting integration across the world and successfully forming regional communities such as European Union (EU), the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and the East African Community (EAC). The focus of this research is on the East African integration process.

History of regional cooperation between Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya dates back to 1902 during the British administration in East Africa. This loose cooperation finally culminated to the formalization of the EAC in1967.[1] The Community was swamped with challenges that hampered the integration process eventually leading to its demise in 1977. Despite the challenges, regional cooperation is still preference for States to realize their economic growth. The three States determined to strengthen their economic, social, cultural, political and technological ties agreed to revive the EAC in 1999.

Scholars have through research, determined that one of the impediments to integration is lack of properly structured integration systems. Over the years, two schools of thought have emerged in relation to the East African integration process. One school advocates for the systematic and progressive approach as entrenched in Article 5(2) of the EAC 1999 Treaty. The second argues in favour of fast tracking the political federation.

The aim of the two approaches is to attain an East African Federation; however, they differ on the sequencing of the events or stages of integration. The issue of sequencing is important in any regional integration initiative because it is a matter of priority and sustainability of the programme. The problem is which policy instruments-of the many whose effects can spill over national borders- should be taken up in the earlier stages of regional integration and which instruments should be left until later.[2] Sequencing is therefore a preliminary matter which needs to be determined and clearly set out as it could dictate the success or the failure of any regional integration programme.

 

[1] Augustine P. Mahiga, ‘The Pitfalls and Promises Of Regional Integration In East Africa’ (1977) Utafiti Journal Of The Faculty Of Arts And Social Sciences, University Of Dar es Salaam, Vol. II No. 1

[2]Simon J Evenett, Anthony J Venables& Alan L Winters, ‘The Sequencing Of Regional Trade Initiatives In Europe and East Asia’ (2004) Economic And Financial Affairs Directorate General, European Commission <https://www.alexandria.unisg.ch/export/DL/22246.pdf>accessed On 30 Oct 2012

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