In late-August, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda decided to accelerate their integration under the regional body the East African Community (EAC) without involving EAC member state Tanzania, potentially signalling the emergence of a two-speed East African integration process. In an email interview, Stefan Reith, head of the Tanzania office of the German political foundation Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, explained the progress to date of East African integration and the obstacles to its implementation.
WPR: What steps has the East African Community taken so far toward greater political integration?
Stefan Reith: Unlike other African regional integration mechanisms like the Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa or the Economic Community of West African States, the EAC enshrined the goal of political union in its founding treaty. But while the EAC looks strong on paper, its implementation of its own decisions on the necessary steps toward this final goal has been lagging behind for years. Even the customs union initiated in 2004 and the common market agreed to in 2010 are far from becoming reality. Member states are not ready to entrust part of national sovereignty to a regional body.