The region of East Africa was dominated by colonial rule until after the middle of the 20th century. After these nations gained their independence, they were left with struggling economies that are primarily based on agriculture. Similar to other countries on the continent, the countries of East Africa have formed a trade bloc in order to further economic prosperity in the region. This trade bloc is known as the East African Community. There were a number of attempts before this to integrate the region, however, for various reasons these attempts were unsuccessful.
The East African Community has the goal of eliminating barriers to trade in the region in an effort to encourage prosperity. It has five member countries which include Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. These countries have recently formed a common market and are moving toward monetary unity and a political federation. Monetary unity would benefit the East African Community by cutting down on transaction costs in the region and will benefit this region’s integration efforts. Furthermore, in order to achieve the goals that have been set for the EAC, it is necessary for the countries involved to harness their natural resources such as fertile soils as well as oil and natural gas reserves in order to utilize the area’s inherent wealth to promote economic prosperity. In addition, it is important for the countries in the region to tackle some problems that they are facing such as the presence of abject poverty, high HIV/AIDS rates, and larger numbers of workers in agriculture due to lack of industrialization in order to become more economically viable and contribute to the East African Community’s economy.
Countries in the EAC such as Kenya, which have a more advanced financial system and transportation infrastructure, need to aid in improving the infrastructure of countries such as Burundi so that the struggling countries can more readily participate in the newly integrating economy. Furthermore, to achieve economic success, these countries need to strive towards the harmonization of their laws with regard to business transactions to both minimize costs and eliminate confusion adding to transparency. In addition, they need to implement an integrated monetary system with a common currency to cut down on transaction costs, thus facilitating trade in the East Africa region.
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