- Jun 25, 2009
The first-ever outcome of a research on the East African Community (EAC) integration has revealed that the process has been pursued mainly as a technocratic one driven by interests of governments and big business. Although the five-member state organisation was meant to be a people-centred project, the research shows that the political participation of citizens in this process remains very limited. This is true of all the five states that make up the EAC Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
A press statement released by Vision East Africa Forum (VEAF), a regional think tank that conducted the research, concluded that the integration process has so far been a top-down exercise. It noted that inadequate attention had been paid to grassroots efforts.
A third of the population in countries like Tanzania and Kenya has not even heard of EAC integration, said the statement signed by the chairman of the VEAF Board of Directors, Dr Azaveli Lwaitama.
Only by improving the public knowledge about the process and by addressing the fears of citizens on all sides of the borders will this second historic attempt at creating an East African Community prevail, the statement said.
The EAC was revived in 1999 after the first one collapsed in 1977 following a number of factors, including political and economic differences among the first three member states of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
A full report on the research titled, A Synthesis Research Report on the Participation of Citizens in the East African Community Integration Process was officially launched last week y by former President of the United Republic of Tanzania Ali Hassan Mwinyi.
The Dar es Salaam launch and first research monograph have been facilitated by the Frieddrich-Ebert-Stifstung (FES) Tanzania.
Written by Mtuwa Salira, EANA