KAMPALA – The East African Community (EAC) will be 20 years this year. Uganda together with her partner states will gather to celebrate under the theme: EAC at 20: Deepening Integration, Widening Cooperation.
EAC of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania was initially founded in 1967 and dissolved in 1977. Following the dissolution in 1977, the partner states negotiated a Mediation Agreement for the diversion of Assets and Liabilities, which they signed in 1984.
Lately, the EAC has six member states that is; Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan from the original three countries which is a great achievement.
“As we celebrate 20 years, am proud to announce that from three, we are now six countries.” Said Hon. Dr. Ali Kirunda Kivejinja, the Minister of East African Community (EAC) Affairs who is also the Second Deputy Prime Minister.
Kivejinja lined up commemorative events during the month of November, the most noticeable being the Eriya Kategaya Memorial Lecture on Friday, November 15, 2019, at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala.
The Chief Guest of the event is His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Main Speaker Amanya Mushega and the topic for discussion is: Why East African Countries Must Integrate.
During the 20 years of integration, Uganda has gained several achievements including a boost in the economy to 170 billion GDP, improved trade and simplified cross border travel within the East African countries.
“Now you need a National Identity card (ID) to cross the border within three minutes over to another country in the East African Community.” Said Julius Wandera Maganda State Minister of EAC Affairs.
Within the 20 years, the EAC has grown stronger. From the original three-member states, to now six Partner States with a land area of 2.5 million square kilometres, a population of over 170 million people and a combined GDP of over U$170 billion.
Over the years, major border crossings are now open 24 hours a day, (Malaba, Busia, & Mutukula) with simplified requirements for cross border travel and you now just need your national ID to travel to any of the partner states of the EAC either using an interstate pass or a temporary travel permit.
Because of our trade facilitation initiatives, intra EAC trade is thriving. For instance, since the 2005/2006 financial year when the Customs Union Protocol came into force, our exports to the EAC Partner States have increased from US$107.69 million to US$ 1.06billion in the 2018/2019 financial year. Over the same period, Uganda’s imports from the EAC Partner States rose from US$442.37m to over US$1.5billion.
Despite all these achievements, there have been challenges such as the recent Uganda-Rwanda border conflict.
“About the killings of Ugandans and Rwandese at the border, we are not happy about it but we must learn that even brothers fight.” Stated Hon. Kivejinja.