The East African Community (EAC) leaders are set to meet in Arusha, Tanzania, from July 21 to 22 and take stock of the progress made in the implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol, the second pillar of the bloc’s integration agenda. A communiqué by the EAC Secretariat on Monday, July 18, indicated that preparations were in high gear for the EAC Heads of State Retreat on the EAC Common Market as well as the 22nd Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State scheduled for July 21 and 22, respectively, at the Arusha International Conference Centre, in Arusha. During their high level retreat on the Common Market, EAC leaders are expected to, among others, “take stock of the progress of implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol; adopt strategic measures to unlock the lags and bottlenecks in establishment of the Common Market; and agree on a roadmap for the full realization of the Common Market.” As noted, the regional leaders will also identify key areas where development partners can contribute to the attainment of the Common Market. Last month, EAC Secretary General, Peter Mathuki, told The New Times that it was high time “we take stock and reflect on whether it [EAC Common Market Protocol] is properly functional and on what it is that we need to do so that in the region, the common people can benefit better.” The Protocol on the establishment of the EAC Common Market entered into force in July 2010, following ratification by all of the then five partner states: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. South Sudan, and lately, the DR Congo, have since joined the bloc which now boasts seven members. The Common Market, which is in line with the provisions of the EAC Treaty, provides for four freedoms; the free movement of goods; labour; services; and capital. The four freedoms were expected to boost trade and investments and make the region more prosperous but have often encountered challenges – ranging from political disputes between partner states to unpredictable situations caused by climate change as well as the Covid-19 pandemic – that meant the slowing down bloc’s integration agenda. Despite challenges, regional leaders have always maintained or re-affirmed the commitment of the Summit to the EAC integration process. According to the EAC Secretariat, about 300 participants from Partner States, private sector, civil society and development partners are expected to attend both the High Level Retreat and the 22nd EAC Summit. “At their 22nd Ordinary Meeting, the EAC Heads of State will, among other things: consider the Report of the Council to the Summit; assent to Bills passed by the East African Legislative Assembly; consider the report of the High-level Summit Retreat on the EAC Common Market, and; appoint Judges to the East African Court of Justice,” adds the Communiqué by the Secretariat. It is also noted that on Friday, July 22, the Heads of State are expected to launch the 42.4 km Arusha Bypass Road. The bypass is part of the multinational Arusha – Holili /Taveta – Voi Road Project. The bypass was co-funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Africa Trade Fund and the Governments the United Republic of Tanzania and Republic of Kenya to the tune of $173.86 million.