There is an on-going East African Community (EAC) meeting in Kampala which has called on partner states to use a coordinated working approach if the Common Market Protocol is to achieve its intended objectives.
The ten-day meeting is considering the annex on social security and the other on mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications.
The protocol identifies four types of East African citizens who can enter, stay, work and reside in another East African state. From July 1, individuals who wish to travel for any purpose, other than earning money, including visitors, students, medical tourists, passengers in transit), will do so freely.
The Common Market which has been ratified by all the five member states will come into force effective July 1 this year. It marks an important milestone in the prospects for the growth of the Rwandan economy.
The benefits are hard to measure in numbers. The theoretical benefits are intuitive and easy to enumerate. For example, the free flow means capital is allocated more efficiently, consumer prices are lower, competition is higher and businesses can benefit from better economies of scale.
Of course some less competitive enterprises will find that they are worse off as they are exposed to greater competition.
At the “softer” end of the spectrum, labour will be able to allocate itself more easily to economically attractive areas and skills can be more easily transferred.
However, this will not be possible unless all countries do everything together so that the market becomes common, otherwise it will be difficult to realize results of a common market.