The Progress of Regional Integration in East Africa

Creating East Africa’s integration is no longer debatable. Since its rebirth in 2000, much progress has been happening. Rwanda and Burundi are now on board, with the latest partner being South Sudan. According to the African Development Bank’s 2019 outlook report, East Africa is the fastest-growing region in the continent. Below are the outstanding impacts the collaboration brings to East Africa’s countries.

  1. Integration of the transport network

In 2018, significant reforms were made to unify the air transport system in the region. And although four of the countries are landlocked, a central railway line is being constructed to boost transport. The Kenyan section is complete, and Uganda is in the process of picking up the project. Once the railway reaches Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi will proceed to build their parts.

On the other hand, there are a bunch of roads already operational and others on the agenda. For example, there is the Arusha, Namanga, AthiRiver and the Arusha, Holili, Taveta, Voi roads. Also, there is the East African Road Network Project (EARNP) that is under different stages of rehabilitation. The project aims at opening up transit corridors by upgrading about 94 roads across the region. The length of the roads is approximately 12,000 km.

  1. Fight against terrorism

The coming together of East African countries has been beneficial to the fight against common enemies. However, for several years, the outlawed terrorist group Al Shabab has been causing havoc in East Africa, especially Kenya. Tension has been high but the coming in together of East African military groups brings in relative calm.

Consequently, the region with the help of the United States and the African Union has over 20,000 soldiers trying to contain the situation in Somali. This collaboration prevents Al Shabab from destabilizing the region and causing deaths. East Africa is still hopeful of winning this fight and have Somalia officially join the regional integration program.

  1. Eliminate regional trade barriers

Notably, regional integration has significant potential to not only enhance friendship but also snowball trade and business opportunities. It also opens ways to invade international markets and facilitates effective trade liberations with foreigners.  The same way there is the African Continental Free Trade Area that was launched in March 2018, East Africa has a similar program.

As it is, individual countries can export and import goods from member states at competitive prices. Re-exports are exceptional to taxation. Also, citizens move and conduct business freely across countries with minimal legal restrictions. Nevertheless, East Africa’s inter-regional trade is still lagging if you compare it to other regions like North America which stands at approximately 54%.

  1. Boost on the region’s economy

East African population is approximately 195 million people, according to the Brookings Education Institution. The region’s economy has been growing tremendously each year, with Kenya being the powerhouse of the growth.

Since 2009, the region has a common market protocol agreement that guarantees rights to construct buildings or own land in member state countries. Similarly, there are laws and policies to deter practices aiming at adversely affecting the region’s economy. Therefore, according to the Treaty establishing the East African Community, goods moving in and out should have standardized weight. Again, they should pass the quality assurance test for the sake of protecting citizens and relations.

In conclusion, for regional integration to be successful, the plan must be people-centered. It’s a choice all the six countries ought to work on strengthening against the changing political and economic endeavors. Governments should come up with stronger business and infrastructural partnerships between civil societies and private investors. Also, conflicts like what was happening late last year between Uganda and Rwanda should be resolved speedily and a lasting solution created. Otherwise, conflicts may result in the disbarment of the progress taking place.