Brief History Of Regional Integration Efforts In East Africa

The East African Community includes the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. The origins of the integration of East Africa first occurred when colonialists tried to integrate the countries for greater control of that region of the continent. “Prior to the 1926 Governor’s Conference, which laid a groundwork for future areas of cooperation, the region witnessed the establishment of supranational institutions such as the Kenya-Uganda Railway, the Court of Appeal of East Africa (1902), a common currency (1905), a Postal Union (1917) and a Customs Union (1917)”.

After examining the dynamics of the area, researchers reported that the area of East Africa could be more closely integrated. At this time, the East Africa High Commission was formed. This organization was officially formed in 1948 and included officials of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. It is important to note that this commission was able to put forth laws in all three countries which had to be followed. Still, the people of the region did not afford the East Africa High Commission a great deal of respect because of its origins as a product of colonialism. Finally, in 1961, the EAHC was replaced by the East African Common Services Organization.

There were some significant differences between the East African Common Services Organization and the EAHC. One significant difference is that it was formed by an agreement between the governments of the three countries of East Africa who were to be involved instead of their colonialists. Furthermore, it was geared toward an African perspective. “The EASCO served as a platform for enhancing cooperation among the territories. The political elites of the territories viewed the independence of their respective territories as the first step, followed by the creation of a Federal East African state. In 1963, the political leaders of the East African states signed a declaration of federation. The declaration, amongst other provisions, aimed at establishing a federation of East Africa”. Just as its predecessor the East Africa High Commission was a product of colonialism, key decision makers in the region felt that the East African Common Services Organization was too similar to the political structure of the region during the times of colonialism. Furthermore, a central bank and common market could not be set up in the region because of the poor state of the economies of the region at this time. However, those in the area were still interested in cooperation. This paved the way for the establishment of the East Africa Community in 1967.