RECENT developments show that the East African region will soon rewrite what regional integration really means, defying conventional beliefs that regional economic communities are just in name, with little to show on the ground.
The defunct East African Community (EAC), which collapsed in 1977, was largely synonymous with that line of thinking.
But it’s a different case for the revamped EAC. The recently concluded trilateral summit that took place in Mombasa, Kenya, is an indication that some partner states of the East African Community (EAC) are tired of dillydallying and are ready to walk the talk and to avoid the 1977 ghosts from haunting the integration efforts.
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have taken the first bold step in setting the pace in implementing accords that have only been gathering dust since they were signed.
They have allocated tasks among themselves and set timelines for what will be one of Africa’s major infrastructure projects.
The Kampala and Mombasa summits, dubbed ‘Summit of the willing’ by some sections of the media, have made other regional countries stand up and listen: Burundi, another member of the EAC, has also now come on board.
That Southern Sudan, which has applied to join the EAC, was also present in Mombasa is a pertinent pointer of the importance of what the leaders of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have set in motion.
The question that lingers in many people’s minds is why Tanzania has decided to take the lone ranger attitude when a truly vibrant EAC is in the interests of the region’s people?
The ‘Summit of the willing’ has opted to set the ball rolling with the hope that stragglers on the road to integration will not be left too far behind, but to do so, they will have to keep up with the new pace.