Editorial: EAC members can help pull each other out of poverty, if they want to

Minister Ndagijimana arrives at parliament to present the 2019-2020 Budget on Thursday. / Sam Ngendahimana

Four member countries of the East African Community (EAC) - Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda - yesterday unveiled their 2019-2020 budget simultaneously, a practice two of the other members, Burundi and South Sudan, have failed to match.

The four countries also posted positive results and experienced economic growth, a story that cannot be said of the other unfortunate members.

The story of economic growth can only be explained in one word; stability.

Both Sudan and S. Sudan can expect negative growth for as long as they don’t clean house, and if the trend continues, they will definitely contribute nothing to EAC integration as it all hinges on peaceful coexistence and mutual support.

But as long as they continue to push away their peers and go it alone, the hole they have dug for themselves will only grow deeper.

Now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has officially expressed its wish to join the EAC, the logical thing to do seeing its close trade and cultural ties it has with member states. But it also comes on board with a piece of heavy luggage.

It is inconceivable that one of the world’s richest countries in terms of natural resources is also among the poorest with Burundi and DRC languishing in the bottom of the ladder. S. Sudan is also not far off despite its enormous oil resources.

The three countries’ only salvation is summoning their patriotic instincts; put aside greed and petty squabbles in the interest of their people.

There is economic potential in our region but it will remain untapped unless countries fail to put their best foot forward.