To ensure regional integration in Eastern Africa works for the people by promoting effective stakeholder engagement in the EAC and COMESA regional integration processes.
The East African Community (EAC) was founded in November 1999 after the first attempt collapsed in 1977 after 10 years of integration efforts. The main goal for the EAC, as an economic and political entity, is the improvement of the standards of living of the population through increased competitiveness,
East African Community Member Presidents
value-added production, trade and investment, and effectively mobilized social capital. Since the signing of the Treaty the Community has realised expansion through the joining of Rwanda and Burundi ;the establishment of a Customs Union in 2005, a Common Market in 2010; and a Monetary Union is expected to be established by end of 2012. The integration process will ultimately lead to the establishment of a Political Federation, currently planned to be embarked on in 2015.
The EAC Treaty acknowledges the critical role of non-state actors in the success of the regional integration (Article 127). The EAC has, in this regard, embarked on initiatives to enhance stakeholder participation including the recent development of an EAC PSO-CSO Dialogue framework, a Civil Society Mobilization strategy and the provision of Observer status for non state actors at EAC forums. On its part the civil society in the region, has taken steps to utilize the spaces provided through formation of regional Civil Society bodies including the Civil Society Forum (EACSOF),. At the national level, The Kenyan civil society has engaged in the regional integration process by participating in meetings organized by the Ministry of EAC Affairs, as well as critically monitoring the process of integration including the establishment of the East African Community Customs Union (EACCU), the transition to a common market and proposed monetary union to political federation; the eveolving tripartite EAC/COMESA/SADC arrangement; and Free Trade Agreement (FTAs) between the EAC and external entities like the European Union through Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs), EAC-US TIFA and others with Southern countries.
From the foregoing, there is need to:
- Raise awareness of stakeholders at local, national and regional level on the opportunities and challenges within the EAC integration processes for their proactive engagement.
- Strengthen the capacity of the stakeholders at national and regional level to effectively participate in and influence the EAC regional integration processes.
- Monitor and analyze the regional integration processes and developments; and highlight their implications on people’s livelihoods.