NOTHING IN the East African Community (EAC) agreement precludes like-minded members to forge bilateral (or trilateral or even quadrilateral) cooperation and relations that exceed the minima agreed at the Community level, as long as these initiatives are non-discriminatory.
If our Tanzanian and Burundian partners want to or feel ready to join at any time, I doubt any of the other three member states will have any problem with that.
The most important thing is that those who want to advance faster on integration should not be held back by those who are reluctant to do so, either because they don’t want to be rushed or because they feel their current economic, financial and social conditions do not allow them to do so yet.
People shouldn’t be so paranoid as to read all sorts of ill-intentions in the determination of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to deepen, widen and to speed up the integration of their infrastructures. In the end these moves will be beneficial to the other two member states as well.
Improved infrastructure will lead to efficiency gains and increased commercial and other exchanges among the three countries, which will, in turn, provide the other two non-participating countries greater market opportunities and therefore be a net plus for them as well.
Mwene Kalinda, Kigali
GOOD PROGRESS indeed. This move may pull other member states reluctant to the advancement of the integration. Of course more caution is needed as the EAC means 5 and not 3 states.
My input is that as the threes move on with adopted plans, more negotiations with the remaining two states are a must – otherwise we may see two blocs leading to unhealthy integration.
Indeed, one may question, where are others, and what will be their influence or impact of the tripartite agreements? I can imagine how very challenging for African countries (e.g. the EAC) winning economic negotiations with the EU, when individual countries decide to hold bilateral agreements with EU outside the African Union or outside the EAC (in our case).
The same applies to the EAC member states. If the EAC integration has to be effective, then any move or agreements must be cautious. If Tanzania goes South (SADC) at the expense of the EAC, one can easily guess the end results.
As a citizen of the EAC, I just applaud the efforts of the three states (Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya) to move forward, but again question them on the speed and strategies to bring others on the track.
Innocent Hitayezu, Kigali
Reactions to the story, “EAC affairs minister defends trilateral development projects”, (The New Times, August 26)