REPORT OF WORKSHOP ON DEEPENING INTEGRATION I N EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY
Prepared by Dr Mohabe Nyirabu
(University of Dar es Salaam, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, P.O. BOX 335042)
The Development Policy Management Forum (DPMF) hosted the workshop on Deepening Integration in the East African Community from 8-9 September 2003 at the UN Conference Center, Addis Ababa. Four papers were presented by academia from University of Dar es Salaam, University of Nairobi and Makerere University. Representatives from the diplomatic community, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and civil society organizations attended the workshop. Officials from the East African Community were invited but unfortunately due to other commitments were unable to attend.
Professor Abdallah Bujra, the Executive Director of DPFM, welcomed all the workshop participants and made a few opening remarks. He observed that the current workshop is part of the ongoing research on deepening integration in East Africa. Prof Bujra said that overall the major focus on regional integration has been on economic issues but little in political processes. It is therefore timely to discuss and take stock of phases in East African co-operation from the colonial undertaking to post- independent era. He indicated that the workshop was a further case in point in the push towards understanding integration processes in East Africa.
Professor Bujra outlined the main workshop objective, which was to provide a forum for a regional dialogue on critical issues confronting East Africa Community. The workshop proceeding was based on four papers, namely:
· Lessons learnt from past experiences of integration in the East African Community
· Current democratization forces and integration: Case study of Tanzania
· Current democratization forces and integration: Case study of Uganda
· Current democratization forces and integration: Case study of Kenya
· Regional Research Project on Deepening Integration: Review discussion
The workshop proceeding normally began with a paper presentation by a resource person followed by discussions.
Lessons learnt from past experiences of integration in the East African Community by Dr Mohabe Nyirabu
Dr Nyirabu started his presentation by pointing out that the attraction of a regional approach to economic development has been strong in Africa even before the formation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963. Although a great number of these regional organizations have been long sustained, they have not been successful in making progress towards the larger goal of African cooperation and integration.
He highlighted that the history of co-operation in East Africa goes back to the colonial era as early 1921 when the colonial territories of Kenya and Uganda united to form a free trade area, which Tanganyika joined two years later. From 1926 to 1950 various services common to the three colonies evolved under joint control and formed the nucleus of the East African High Commission, which was established in 1948 and later renamed the East African Common Services Organization. Until 1965 a common currency, the East African shilling, was the legal tender in three countries as well as in Aden and Zanzibar. He pointed out that all these attempts to create economic integration were under British colonial sponsorship. During the nationalist struggles for political independence between the 1950s and the early 1960s, calls for an East African Federation were strongly voiced in East Africa. However, this was never attained and the three colonies—Tanganyika, Uganda and Kenya became independent in 1961,1962 and 1963 respectively.
He identified that a second effort to consolidate East African co-operation was a result of Uganda and Tanganyika’s complaints concerning losses accrued by the virtue of their membership in the common market. In 1964 the Kampala Agreement was negotiated with the main aim of decreasing trade deficits and industrial imbalance between Tanzania and Uganda, on the one hand, and Kenya, on other. Unfortunately, the agreement did not take off, partly because Kenya never ratified it, insisting, among other things, that one single currency be maintained in East Africa, a condition that was unacceptable to the other partners.
Another attempt to promote economic integration in East Africa came about on December 1, 1967 when the Treaty for East African Co-operation anchored on three broad categories -- economic policy, common institutions and a common market was signed in Kampala, Uganda. He said that the Treaty was founded upon the goal of realizing a more equal distribution of the benefits of economic integration and an acceptance that free trade was not beneficial to the three East African countries promoted a restricted trade by imposing transfer tax system for short-term goals but with a longer-term objective of eventually moving to free trade within a common market arrangement. However, this was never realized and in 1977 the East African Community collapsed. In 1984 the three countries signed an agreement for the division of the assets and liabilities of the former East African Community. Ironically, he observed that it was during the division of assets and liabilities that the three states agreed to explore and identify future areas of cooperation, thus providing the genesis for the current effort. Finally, Dr. Nyirabu drew attention to the lessons that need to be learnt from the experience of the East African Community.
One of the participants observed that it appears that by 1967 East African countries were more integrated during the colonial era compared to the aftermath of the signing of the Treaty for East African Cooperation. He noted that this cooperation traces its history to the colonial period. References were also made to external forces and cold war politics impact on the process of integration in the region.
· The question was raised on how to finance region integration in the East African Community. It appears that finances constrain realizing community goals. And indeed, this touches on the critical issue of distribution of benefits where fiscal compensation is the most difficult politically.
· Regarding trade, it was pointed out that the level of intra-trade is very low in the region. In fact the general pattern in a majority of regional economic communities in Africa is extra- continental directed.
· The question was also raised on what is the advantage of having the East African Community while we have the Common Market of East and Southern Africa and Southern Africa Development Community in the region.
· The issue of having the English language as the language of the Treaty was also discussed. Participants wondered why Swahili that is used widely in the region was not adopted as the community language.
In response to and as a concluding remark, the presenter drew the attention that the process of integration in the region works on building economic union as a step towards the larger goal of creating a political union. It is therefore imperative that level of participation be widened to include civil society.
Dr Musambayi Katumanga
This was the second paper presented by Dr Katumanga focusing on democratization in Kenya and its implication on regional integration in the East African Community. He presented an overview of the current process geared towards regional integration and in the process he examined leadership and domestic dynamics that are likely to be supportive of regional integration. He noted that drift towards cooperation in East Africa can be ascribed to attempts by the Moi regime to cope with the adverse effects engendered by economic and political conditionalization of aid to Kenya which has forced the state into foreign policy restructurization. Consequently, he noted that the aim of the state was to lessen unfavorable effects caused by the hostile external environment by turning to the region for markets and resource extraction. The hostile environment equally coincided with globalization processes through which market expansion is generated. He further stated that globalization manifests in two aspects of empowering and disempowering. It disempowers when it seeks privatization of state agencies and their operationalization along market principles at one level, and the liberalization of a state’s economy to facilitate access to markets in the South without a corresponding access of investments and markets in the industrialized North. Whereas globalization was expected to facilitate foreign direct investment, the same has not happened. This situation has engendered alternative coping mechanisms.
Dr Katumanga alluded that for the Moi regime, the answer lay in the reconstitution of the East African Community that is likely to occur in peripheral regions where states are engulfed in turbulent political situations and economic decline. Notably, leaders in such states tend to push for regional integration as a means of countering the processes of marginalization while also enhancing capacity in conflict and resource management. In principle, this process is supposed to lead to inward looking processes focusing on internal security and internal development. Finally, he drew attention to the view that the success of this process calls for the presence of strong-willed political elites, economic linkages and citizen participation.
Key issues covered in the presentation
· For along period, Kenya treated Tanzania and Uganda arrogantly because it had support from the West. This created problems in the smooth operation of the East African Community. And currently a case be made that if more aid is given to Kenya to meet the balance of payments, Kenya will be less likely to be supportive of East African cooperation
· The type of integration that is being witnessed in the region is peripheral integration. The essence of regionalism is the attempt to unify weak economies into one strong market providing a rational for delinking or engendering capacity of African states to renegotiate the exploitative vertical trade axis. The threats to the push for integration are inherent in World Bank’s idea of output-based approaches. This approach seeks to help Kenya evolve its own energy sufficiency.
· To integrate the East African region, it is imperative that the issues of state penetration in society and effective control over the territory be addressed. Like all other ventures geared towards political integration, the East African process is constrained by the lack of political will. The leadership in the region seems to pay lip service to integration given the fact that the same constitutes good politics. All the leaders in the region seem to love and to seek the consolidation of their national sovereignty and more interested in state building and regime consolidation than regional integration. A functional approach is unlikely to bear fruit in Africa.
· Although the current treaty is clear about co-operation, it is silent on how it seek to facilitate the realization of the dreamt about federation. Indeed, the current process seems geared towards consolidating the Nation State particular with calls for non-interference in internal matters of other state’s good neighborliness and friendship. While these principles are good for purposes of containing aggression against each other, they equally serve as a basis for ignoring governance issues in sister states.
· The victory of National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) seems to have created some impetus for regional integration. Underlying this are variables specific to the new leadership and other internal dynamics within the state To some extent, the election of Mwai Kibaki in 2003 as the new president of Kenya has brought in office a leader who has been a beneficiary of regional cooperation and has demonstrated his inclination to toward the region as evidenced by his state visits to Tanzania and Uganda.
· The process of regional integration in East Africa could also be constrained by a number of factors. The mainstay in this is the perennial problem of unequal distribution of benefits rooted in the differentiated levels of development. Additionally, fears expressed by partner states are likely to cause disinterest in Kenya to the extent that the economy begins to pick up. More threatening is the fact that the current process seeks to give the private sectors a lead role in integration process. By and large, the private sector is interested in the profit motive. Therefore, there is need to be careful for what the private sector is pushing for in integration.
One participant observed that generally there is no fear among the people of East Africa. The fear that exists is among the elite in the government and also in the private sector because some of them are weak to compete. The real solution lay in increasing other forces in the integration project through democratization and participation to lessen the fear. Overall the participants emphasized the important role of the civil society in regional integration process.
The question was raised on regime consolidation in East Africa. It was pointed out that Europe, for example, succeeded because the state had consolidated itself thus giving way for functional integration to succeed.
It was also pointed out that the current debate on integration in Africa is the same one that dominated the early Organization of Africa Unity politics of whether to form a continental union or adopt a strategy of creating regional integration schemes as building blocks toward continental unity.
Democratization Processes in Uganda and their implication on East African Integration by Dr. Sallie Simba Kayunga
The presentation of the third paper began with an overview of democracy pointing out that democracy is one of those emotive concepts that have and continue to attract debates in our contemporary politics. In brief, he defined the concept of democracy and outlined conceptual forces of democratization in Uganda. Then the paper looked at democratization in Uganda and its implication to regional cooperation in the East African Community. Dr. Kayunga stated that identity politics and nationalism have been the biggest hindrance to Uganda’s efforts to integrate with its neighbors. Thus in order to realize regional integration in East Africa, there is the need create democratic institutions that allows identity based communities to enjoy their cultural and self-governing rights without the fear of loosing autonomy in a larger political body that is created as a result of regional and economic integration.
Key issues covered in the presentation
· In understanding the process of democratization in Uganda, four issues are critical. First, who sets the agenda for democratic reforms? Second, who are the actors in the democratization process and who determines their activism? Third, who determines the content, nature and character of the democracy to be put in place? Finally, who determines the pace/timing for any democratic reforms?
The question was raised whether regional integration in East African Community can help in resolving some of the internal problems that Uganda has been experiencing. For example, can Uganda’s membership in the East African Community help resolving the insecurity created by the Lord Resistance Army?
A participant raised the question to what extent can the National Rainbow Coalition victory in Kenya be viewed a model of political change in East Africa? Why should we be amazed? Isn’t the case that political change should be considered a normal change after a certain period?
It was also noted that Buganda in Uganda is a force to reckon with. It’s importance lies in history, geopolitical location, economic position, cultural identity and it’s persistence as a central issue in Ugandan politics. In this connection it was pointed out that there are structures that have been re- established by President Yoweri K. Museveni that are now beyond his control. This could be a constraint for regional integration.
This was the fourth paper presented focused on democratization forces in Tanzania. Professor Kiondo began his presentation with a brief synopsis of the world economy noting that it is characterized by two significant processes namely regionalization and globalization which are either complimentary or contradictory. Regarding regionalism, three types were identified depending on the region’s hierarchical position in the world system. These regionalisms are neo-liberal, peripheral and western supported regionalism in the periphery. Following this overview, Professor Kiondo raised the question whether the East African countries know what type of regional integration they want despite the fact that East Africa is in the periphery.
One participant began the discussion by raising a number of questions: Where are we in the integration effort? What is our model? What is the purpose of our East African Community? The participant noted that it is important to pose these questions in order to reflect what went wrong and how it can be avoided as the region gears up for another phase of integration.
It was also pointed out that the spread of Swahili as a mobilizing force need political support to further integration. For example, in Uganda no attempt has been made to teach Swahili in the educational system due to the unwillingness of the elite to learn the language. Additionally, it was emphasized that the East African Community should undertake the function of popularizing Swahili in East Africa and beyond because it is politically important a sign of identity.
A positive trend was noted for Kenya. This is in contrast to the 1970’s when members of the ruling party, for example, former Attorney General Charles Njonjo opposed Swahili as the official language and instead decided to proclaim it a national language.
Professor Kiondo, Dr. Kayunga and Dr. Katumanga did the final presentation of the workshop orally on the ongoing research on deepening integration in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya respectively. All the presenters were in agreement that all the three countries were faced with the same issues in their attempt to strengthen integration in the region. Since the research was work in progress, the presentation was tentative and basically consisted of issues that are being explored.
Discussions after the oral presentation revolved around the following issues: