There is this feeling that now that President Paul Kagame is at the helm of the East African Community (EAC), a few things in the organisation will be shaken up and fall into place.
Fresh from chairing the African Union where they are not likely to forget him in long while – because of the whirlwind of reforms he helped to steer that have brought alive the African Peace Fund and the continental AcFTA treaty.
Rest assured, every bottleneck that lies in the way of East African integration will get his full attention. But as he pointed out, there has to be ownership, accountability and political will. Some of those three seem to be starkly lacking in some member states at the moment.
It is the second time President Kagame takes the chair, having done so ten years ago. And once again, he has brought his personal touch by organising another retreat of core EAC organs just as he did a decade ago. No other previous chairman has done so; they preferred to move at the EAC Secretariat’s pace.
But his task is not a walk in the park mainly due to financial dependence on external factors. The EAC is held ransom by some countries that have failed to honour their financial obligations. How do they expect regional projects to be implemented on empty coffers?
This issue of non-payment of dues should be tackled head-on with no kid gloves. An organization is only able to run smoothly if it adheres to set rules and those who flout them should be prepared to face the consequences.
This regional economic bloc was about to set the bar high for other continental blocs, but it seems lack of political will is onlyhelping it to shoot itself in the foot.