Tanzania Unique Status in the Opulence of the East African Community

Article Type: Journal Article

 Author: Dr. Philemon Sengati


Dr. Philemon Sengati

The University of Dodoma

P.O. Box 395, Dodoma- Tanzania

1.0 Abstract

This paper argues the fact that, whatever circumstances come on, Tanzania stands as a strategic actor with unique status in the development and prosperity of the East African Community. This position is built on a variety of premises, one of which are, the records of Tanzania in the struggle to build unity, equality, true democracy and peace among nations in Africa, thus the Great Lakes Region and the East Africa community. There are numerous instances to justify this assertive position, such as Tanzania has been the designated honest broker in crisis prone regions of Kenya, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoro and Uganda at different phases in its existence as a state.

Again Tanzania strategic position is vibrant in the growth potential of the economy of Rwanda, DRC, and Uganda; this is reflected by the strategic geographical location in serving other countries in the region. Tanzania is the heart of EAC transport network, in sense that four out of the five transport corridors start from Tanzania to EAC countries. The existence of sea ports (Dar es Salaam, Mtwara and Tanga and one is in plan to be constructed in Bagamoyo) dependable by the EAC for economic activities like importations and transportation of goods in their destinations consolidate the fact. More importantly Tanzania is a country that has sustainable peace situation as such for years it never entered into war rather peaceful coexistence amongst Tanzanians and its neighbors has been its tradition. In this paper we argue that, despite of the challenges that the EAC faces, Tanzania has a vital status in its development and prosperity of which citizens and leaders at local, national, regional and international levels have to uphold and nurture.

2.0 Key words

Regional Integration, Strategic Position, the East African Community.

3.0 Introduction

African frontrunners have long recognized the need for closer regional connections as a way to overcome the fragmentation of the continent which is one of the major constrictions toward its economic development. The economic integration of Africa was the central theme of the 1980 Lagos Plan of Action, the special United Nations Session on Africa in 1986 and numerous other high level statements and reports on African policy and development strategy (Ojo et al., 1985).  It is no doubt that, more recently the dreams have found expression in the creation of the African Union and regional and sub-regional integration.

In view of that, Sub-regional and regional groupings is a dominating agenda to the attainment of socioeconomic, political development; the approaches complements as necessary for improving Africa’s competitiveness, mindful of the fact that as most African countries are small by standing independently in terms of their domestic markets (EAC Annual Trade Report, 2008). In line with the vision and objectives of the region, East African Community was formed to create a well-connected, economically prosperous and peaceful region by supporting both public and private sector engaged in the regional integration process (Munster, 2009).

Five countries in the region (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) constitute the EAC. The Permanent Tripartite Commission for East African Co-operation was first formed in 1967, but collapsed in 1977 due to political differences among the participating countries; again it was re-established in January 2001 by a Treaty, which entered into force on 7 July 2000. Burundi and Rwanda joined the Community on 18 June 2007.

“One people, one destiny” – so runs the slogan of the East African Community (EAC), which was re-established through signing of the EAC treaty on 30th November, 1999 and came into force in 2001. The future conceived EAC will comprise 13 countries including: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania as of 9 July 2011, the newly-independent Republic of South-Sudan. It draws on the analyses and conclusions of various sector studies and benefits from discussions with the country and regional stakeholders (Heinz, 2005). At the same time, it pays close attention to specific concerns in the region such as fragility, insecurity, cross-border conflicts, governance challenges, as well as cross-cutting issues related to gender, the environment and climate change.

The EAC is a key driver of the regional integration process and has achieved positive results, including a common market status in July 2010. The target date for establishing a monetary union is 2012. The vision of EAC is to create a prosperous, competitive, secure and politically united Eastern Africa. The objective, according to Article 5 (1) of the Treaty, is to develop policies and programs aimed at widening and deepening cooperation among the partner states in political, economic, social and cultural fields, research and technology, defence, security and legal and judicial affairs for mutual benefit (EAC Annual Trade Report, 2008).

The East African Community is organized into different organs provided in the Treaty which formed the integration and are found in Chapter III Article 9(1) of the union Charter. These organs include, the Summit of the EAC that consists of the Heads of State of the Partner States and at present these are:

“ President Pierre Nkurunzinza of Burundi, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Dr. John Pombe Magufuli of  Tanzania, and President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda”. The five presidents take the chair of the summit in turns of one year and the present chairperson of the Summit is Dr. John Pombe Magufuli of Tanzania. It is equally important to unravel that, the Summit meets at least once in a year (Chapter Four Article 10 of the EAC Charter of, 1999).

The other organ of the East African Community is the Council of Ministers consisting of the ministers for regional co-operation of each Partner State and other ministers to be determined by the Partner States. The Council of Ministers meets twice a year; one of the meetings is held immediately preceding a Summit Meeting (Chapter Five Article 13 Charter of the East African Community). In connection to this organ, there is a Co-ordination Committee consists of the Permanent Secretaries responsible for regional co-operation in each Partner State. It reports to the Council of Ministers and co-ordinates the activities of the Sectorial Committees (The EAC Charter of 1999, Chapter 6 (Article 17).
There is another organ called Sectorial Committees of the EAC which reports to the Co-ordination Committee and are established by the Council of Ministers. Their task is to prepare programmes and to implement the objectives of the Treaty (Chapter 7 (Article 18) of the 1999 Charter of the EAC). Another organ is the East African Court of Justice has the major responsibility to ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the Treaty. This includes for example disputes between Partner States regarding the Treaty, disputes between the Community and its employees or the compliance of national laws with the Treaty (Chapter 8 (Article 23) of the 1999 EAC Charter).

The East African Legislative Assembly is the Parliament of the East African Community. It has 52 members – nine members from each Partner State – plus 7 ex-officio members, namely the five Ministers responsible for regional co-operation, the Secretary General and the Counsel to the Community (Chapter 9 (Article 48) of the 1999 EAC Charter). The Secretariat is the executive organ of the EAC and runs the day-to-day business. It is headed by the Secretary General. He is supported by four Deputy Secretary Generals who deputies for him and have the following special responsibilities. The Counsel to the Community is appointed by the Council of Ministers and acts as the principal legal adviser to the Community. The Counsel is also entitled to appear in the Courts of the Partner States in matters regarding the Community and its Treaty (Chapter 10 (Article 66) of the 1999 EAC Charter).

There are other autonomous institutions with special responsibilities to perform in the EAC, one of which is the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, this oversees the management and development of Lake Victoria Basin and serves as a centre for promotion of investments and information sharing among the various stakeholders. Its headquarters are situated in Kisumu, Kenya. The other institution is Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), this coordinates fishery issues in Lake Victoria to ensure that fish and fish products are available in East Africa and has access to international markets (Chapter Four Article 10 of the EAC Charter of 1999).

The other institution is called Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA),
IUCEA encourages and develops mutual beneficial collaboration between member universities and Governments and other public and private organizations.
East African Development Bank (EADB). EADB was established in 1967 to redress the development disparities between the member states of the former East African Community. EADB has a critical role to play in setting up the East African Common Market in terms of mobilising external lendable resources for the East African Market. Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA).CASSOA is a specialized agency of the East Community responsible for ensuring the development of safe and secure civil aviation system in the region. The main objectives of the Agency are to ensure coordinated development of an effective and sustainable civil aviation safety and security oversight infrastructure in the Community (Chapter Four Article 10 of the EAC Charter of 1999).


4.0 The Predicament on board

There are initiatives to promote a strong and well founded East African Community among member states like creation of customs union, common market and an EAC legislative. In 2013, the diplomatic rifts between President Kagame of Rwanda and former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete constrained and retarded these efforts.
President Kikwete had suggested – during an auspicious AU Summit in Addis – which Kigali should negotiate with the rebels based in the DR Congo. The Summit then had serious security issues facing the continent on the table, including the running instability in eastern DR Congo. Conversely, in an interview with Radio France International (RFI), on 4th  June, 2013 Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushi Kiwabo said Rwanda will not consider negotiating with people who were responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Those who think that Rwanda today should sit down at the negotiating table with FDLR simply don’t know what they are talking about,” she said, adding that it was unfortunate that the rebel group had sympathizers in the region, including President Kikwete himself, should he not retract his comments.” (The Guardian 8th June, 2013).

There are many spokespeople for the FDLR; some are ideologically aligned to the FDLR. We stopped the genocide but we didn’t stop the ideology,” she added. Tanzania categorically said it won’t apologize over remarks by President Jakaya Kikwete, and reiterated its call upon Rwandan authorities to initiate peace talks with rebels of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) (The Guardian 8th June, 2013).

Of recent years, the presidents of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda met in Kigali for the third time, in what came to be known as “the coalition of the willing.” this brought a negative view on which media went on commenting that perhaps the new EAC could go back to its old history of 1977. Still Tanzania used its diplomatic strategy to make the situation cool by upholding the vision and principles of regional integration. When addressing the nation, on his monthly speech former President Kikwete affirmed to Tanzanians that Tanzania will take the last position to go out the EAC community, by the time it will use any diplomatic means to make sure all things are calm and bring positive results in the community.

“Tanzania will never quit the East African Community and will do everything in its power to make sure the community survives and becomes prosperous despite efforts by Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda to side-line it……. We are in the EAC to stay. We have come from so far. We have sacrificed so much to give up now. We will do everything in our power to make sure the EAC survives and achieve its ultimate goal of political federation,” President Kikwete told the Parliament. (Daily News 7, Nov. 2013).

Tanzania is currently endeavouring to improve its cooperation with Governments and with regional organizations, this is concomitant with Tanzania strategy towards integration where it believes that the key player in the EAC  must be driven by clear vision and political will and be guided by four “Cs” namely Communication, Commitment, Cooperation and Completion.

While situation is not calm between Tanzania and Rwanda the United Nation passed special resolution No 2098 of 2013 to send a special peace keeping force in the Eastern DRC, a special zone for Rwandese interest as conceived by different scholars (Sengati, 2014; Mpangala, 2004; Rummel, 1995 and Rupiya, 2005). That the region is full of mineral potential but a conflict Zone with M23 and FDLR rebel groups causing chaos and alleged supported by the Rwanda government. This UN special force is largely composed of Tanzanian soldiers, this has increased hostility between Tanzania and Rwanda, because the initiative to forcing out all rebel groups in Eastern DRC impliedly mean the call to peace and freedom for the DRC of which jeopardizes the Rwandese dominance and interest especially in mineral resource in the eastern DRC. In this paper we argue that, the development and prosperity of the East African Community is linked to its member commitment. It is of no imagination that Tanzania can be isolated in the move to building a strong East African Federation, because of many reasons but mostly its strategic position is the potential for the development of the EAC.

5.0 Materials and Methods

The materials used in this paper are secondary materials and qualitative methods are employed to describe the strategic status Tanzania has in the opulence of the East African Community. The materials reviewed include the journal articles, books, News Papers, the EAC Charter and paper presented in different forums to enhance validity and reliability of key arguments in the article. The analysis of the information is done by using a thematic method that is used in qualitative research data analysis.


6.0 Theoretical and Empirical debates

The theory of regional integration has been associated with Haas (1950) a prominent neo-functionalist known for his concept of “The uniting of Europe”. This is because Europe remained the focal point for most of the works on regional integration theory although in the recent past the application of integration theory to Latin America, Africa and Asia has increased. Haas and Schmitter developed a conceptual framework that has spread the process of regional integration beyond Europe in industrial and non-industrial settings with a concept approach that is applicable to both. The basic postulation of neo functionalists is the decline of nationalism and nation-states and their replacing by large units more suited for the roles they play in society. The neo functionalist thus does not see nation-states as units of analysis but the whole region as a unit. Modern neo-functionalist who were inspired by European integration still exist and put emphasis on supranational institutions, among them are Sandholz and Sweet (1997) and multilevel governance, Marks, Hooghe and Blank (1996) among the opponents of regional integration was Haas himself, Lindberg and Scheingold. This was after the European integration process started to experience a crisis in the mid 1960s. Haas and these scholars concluded that his theory was too deterministic and Haas admitted that he had not foreseen a rebirth of nationalism and resilience of sovereign nation-states within functionalist organization of supra-national institutions referred to as regionalism.

Lindberg and Scheingold singled out some of the major mechanisms and dynamics. It was concluded that neo-functionalists had not studied domestic politics sufficiently and that they could have exaggerated the role of supranational institutions The other opponent of neo-functionalism is Pieson, Pollock (1996), Scheneider and Aspinwall (2011) who used the new institutionalism approach to integration studies. According to Pierson there are gaps that emerge among the member states which are difficult to close. These gaps are created by autonomous action of integration institutions, the restricted time horizons of political decisions makers, unanticipated consequences and shifts in policy preferences of governments. This makes the gaps very difficult to close because of the reluctance of supranational actors, institutional barriers to reform and various costs to change. Due to this gaps and the difficulty in closing them, Pieson, Pollock and Scheneider and Aspinwall argue that this forms the foundation of disintegration rather than integration. Therefore these authors see nothing than disintegration as states pursue their own agenda defined as state interest among community of states. This disintegration and the consequent pursued by individual interest is therefore a source of disharmony since it is equivalent to a chaotic state of nature. With this state of nature, states are likely to disagree and by extension war erupts. The war is a war in a whole community of states. As states push and shove over their interests, there is likely war in the whole community while in the individual states, there will be peace. This in Nye phrase is the “peace in parts”. The parts are individual states which internally are at peace but externally in relation to other states are not, as each state attempts to promote and protect its own self interests, there is no peace i.e. the states are in a state of war always in their protection and promotion of self interest. Nye’s thesis rests on rather simple question of how there can be integration as proposed by neo-functionalists when there is no peace in the whole but only in the parts. Rather how can the peace existent in parts be utilized to guarantee peace in the whole. Simply how can states be at peace while they all pursue their own self interest in the same environment? This according to Nye’s thesis is impossibility. This theory is relevant because it talks about collective decision making. Policies in EAC are determined by consensus which covers a varying number of functional areas. Ernst Haas came up with the concept of spillover which “refers to a situation in which a given action, related to specific goals, creates a situation in which the original goals can be assured only after taking further actions, which in turn create a further condition and a need for more action and so forth”60. This refers to policies that are agreed upon and the partner states need to implement them for the prosperity and continuous existence of the integration.


Liberalism is the theory related with the formation of the East African Community. Liberals argue that the universal condition of world politics is globalization. States are, and always have been, embedded in a domestic and transnational society, which creates incentives for economic, social and cultural interaction across borders. State policy may facilitate or block such interactions. Some domestic groups may benefit from or be harmed by such policies, and they pressure government accordingly for policies that facilitate realization of their goals. These social pressures, transmitted through domestic political institutions, define “state preferences” –that is, the set of substantive social purposes that motivate foreign policy (Hurrel, 1995).

 State preferences give governments an underlying stake in the international issues they face. Since the domestic and transnational social context in which states are embedded varies greatly across space and time, so do state preferences. Without such social concerns that transcend state borders, states would have no rational incentive to engage in world politics at all, but would simply devote their resources to isolated existence. To motivate conflict, cooperation, or any other costly foreign policy action, states must possess sufficiently intense state preferences. The resulting globalization-induced variation in social demands, and thus state preferences, is a fundamental cause of state behavior in world politics (Durgesh, 1984). This is the central insight of liberal international relations theory. It can be expressed colloquially in various ways: “What matters most is what states want, not how they get it- “Ends are more important than means.”

Three specific variants of liberal theory are defined by particular types of preferences, their variation, and their impact on state behavior. Ideational liberal theories link state behavior to varied conceptions of desirable forms of cultural, political, socioeconomic order. Commercial liberal theories stress economic interdependence, including many variants of “endogenous policy theory.” Republican liberal theories stress the role of domestic representative institutions, elites and leadership dynamics, and executive-legislative relations. Such theories were first conceived by prescient liberals such as Immanuel Kant, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, John Hobson, Woodrow Wilson, and John Maynard Keynes-writing well before the deep causes (independent variables) they stress (e.g. democratization, industrialization, nationalism, and welfare provision) were widespread (Duncan, 2008)

What basic assumptions underlie the liberal approach? Two assumptions liberal theory makes are the assumptions of anarchy and rationality. Specifically, states (or other political actors) exist in an anarchic environment and they generally act in a broadly rational way in making decisions. The anarchy assumption means that political actors exist in the distinctive environment of international politics, without a world government or any other authority with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. They must engage in self-help.  The rationality assumption means that state leaders and their domestic supporters engage in foreign policy for the instrumental purpose of securing benefits provided by (or avoiding costs imposed by) actors outside of their borders, and in making such calculations, states seek to deploy the most cost-effective means to achieve whatever their ends (preferences) may be (Daniel,1984).

 Liberal theory shares the first (anarchy) assumption with almost all international relations theories, and it shares the second (rationality) assumption with realism and institutionalism, but not non-rationalist process theories. The second core assumption shared by liberal theories is that the interdependence among of state preferences influences state behavior. Rather than treating preferences as a fixed constant, as do realists or institutionalists, liberals seek to explain variation in preferences and its significance for world politics. The precise distribution and nature of the “stakes” explains differences in state policy and behavior (Willis, K. 2005).

States, liberals argue, orient their behavior to the precise nature of these underlying preferences: compatible or conflictual, intense or weak, and their precise scope. States require a “social purpose” a perceived underlying stake in the matter at hand in order to pay any attention to international affairs, let alone to provoke conflict, inaugurate cooperation, or take any other significant foreign policy action. If there is no such interdependence among state objectives, a rational state will conduct no international relations, satisfying itself with an isolated and autarkic existence. Conflictual goals increase the incentive for political disputes. Convergence of underlying preferences creates the preconditions for peaceful coexistence or cooperation (Duncan, 2008).

 Rational choice Theory is also one of the theories related with the formation of East African Community. An economic principle that assumes that individuals always make prudent and logical decisions that provide them with the greatest benefit or satisfaction and that are in their highest self-interest. Most mainstream economic assumptions and theories are based on rational choice theory (Ojo et al. 1985)

Indeed, the East African Community might have put in perspectives rational choice theory in devising coercive apparatuses among member states such like the Interpol-to crack down criminality beyond borders. The road map into the formation of East African Monetary fund is related with the concept of rational choice theory which looks into maximizing members’ states advantage or gain, and to minimize their disadvantage or loss.

Realism is the last theory in the analysis of the formation of East African Community. Descriptive political realism commonly holds that the international community is characterized by anarchy, since there is no overriding world government that enforces a common code of rules. Whilst this anarchy need not be chaotic, for various member states of the international community may engage in treaties or in trading patterns that generate an order of sorts, most theorists conclude that law or morality does not apply beyond the nation’s boundaries (Holst, 1990).

Arguably political realism supports Hobbes’s view of the state of nature, namely that the relations between self-seeking political entities are necessarily a-moral. Hobbes asserts that without a presiding government to legislate codes of conduct, no morality or justice can exist: “Where there is no common Power, there is no Law, no justice if there be no power erected, or not great enough for our security; every man will and may lawfully rely on his own strength and art, for caution against all other men. In this case integration of countries is the best strategies to enforce moral behaviors or acts amongst actors within regional agreements (Pentland, 1973).

Either descriptive political realism is true or it is false. If it is true, it does not follow, however, that morality ought not to be applied to international affairs; what ought to be does not always follow from what is. A strong form of descriptive political realism maintains that nations are necessarily self-seeking, that they can only form foreign policy in terms of what the nation can gain, and cannot, by their very nature, cast aside their own interests.

However, if descriptive realism is held, it is as a closed theory, which means that it can refute all counter-factual evidence on its own terms (for example, evidence of a nation offering support to a neighbor as an ostensible act of altruism, is refuted by pointing to some self-serving motive the giving nation presumably has it would increase trade, it would gain an important ally, it would feel guilty if it didn’t, and so on), then any attempt to introduce morality into international affairs would prove futile (Breen,  and  Rittman, 1995).

 Examining the soundness of descriptive political realism depends on the possibility of knowing political motives, which in turn means knowing the motives of the various officers of the state and diplomats. The complexity of the relationship between officers’ actions, their motives, subterfuge, and actual foreign policy makes this a difficult if not impossible task, one for historians rather than philosophers. Logically, the closed nature of descriptive realism implies that a contrary proposition that nations serve no interests at all, or can only serve the interests of others, could be just as valid.

Realism under the East African Community hinges on the assumption that some leaders, because of their ethnic background, would always think of remaining in power and controlling others. It has been assumed that President Museveni and Kagame belong to Tutsi ethnic background. The motive behind Tutsi generation is hegemonic power. They (Tutsi) have a propensity of ruling others forever and evermore. Example of tyrannical utterance once put forward by Museveni justifies this contention.

 President Museveni has been in power for almost 28 consecutive years 40 per cent of his lifetime. Given the country’s very young population, 75 per cent of Ugandans have only had one president all their life. When asked if he would run again in 2016, Museveni’s response was, “one of the real points for me politically is the East African Federation. I cannot leave this issue if I think there is a possibility of advancing it. This is something I have been working for all my time in politics and is one of the reasons why I continue to be in power (The guardian 17 August 2015)

This is the classic case of a leader thinking that he is indispensable, a very dangerous mind-set for democracy. In 2011, when President Museveni was asked how he would react if Ugandans contested election results with demonstrations, Museveni responded that “we just lock them up … bundle them into jail and bring them to the courts.” There you have it – a theoretical model for democracy.

The maturation of region integration elsewhere in Africa is engulfed by both optimists and pessimists leaders, and scholars.  Empirically there are vast literature by both African and Africanist scholars which point out a dark picture about the prospects of getting it right in terms of bringing together different countries in a specific region in Africa. Dieter (1997) for example, writes: “in Africa, attempt to create regional integration prospect have a long, albeit discouraging history”. Odhiambo (1981) writing specifically about East Africa, shares the same view by arguing that: “when it comes to the question of African attempts at territorial politics, the experience is one of failure, or alternatively of inability”.  There are a few other scholars who concur with this trajectory (Hentz, 2005) writes: “Thus schemes in Africa such as the Economic Community of West African states and the East African Community adopted a blueprint from a very different place and time, and like others such schemes in sub Saharan Africa, they failed”.

These views are credible and can be substantiated by facts. For example west and central African states tried regional integration soon after gaining political independence from European colonizers but all these attempts failed. The French colonies of Mali and Senegal formed a federation but a few months later Senegal seceded from the federation and declared itself as the Republic of Senegal. In other areas Ivory Coast, Dahomey and Niger formed the council of the intent but this too collapsed (Melady, 1961).

Patrice Lumumba of the present day the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kwame Nkrumah once contemplated combing DRC and Ghana, an idea that never materialized. Some of the post independence regional organization includes the West African Economic Community (WAEC) and the central African customs and Economic Union (CACEU), which were established in the 1960s later disintegrated too. Even the Pan African Freedom Movement of East, Central and Southern Africa (PAFMECSA) did not survive due to ideological differences among African leaders and their excitement about their newly found freedom from colonial rule. Thus the argument by the pessimists is tenable and can be substantiated

Increasingly, in spite of these features the spirit of regional integration did not die out amongst Africans. Consequently, when the East African Community territories their political independence in early 1960s they also tried to follow the same route by establishing the East African Community. Unfortunately, like its predecessor organization the EAC’s life was also ephemeral as it collapsed after a single decade. It is in this context therefore that the view expressed by those scholars who state that the African experience with regional integration or territorial politics is one of failure can not be summarily refuted (Veit, 2010).

However it would be wrong to overgeneralized and argue that all attempts to establish regional institutions in post colonial Africa failed because some of these regional organizations are still operational even today.  Among these that have survived to date is the ECOWAS, established in 1976. In this paper we stand out to argue that the survival, development and prosperity of the current East African Community is totally dependent on the commitment of its member states to forming the political federation. Uniquely is the strategic status of Tanzania in promoting such development and prosperity within the East African Community.

Musonda (2006) is of the view that, Western European countries started experiencing regionalism in the 1950’s. From these countries, the project of regionalism spread to other parts of the world including Asia, Latin America, and Africa among others. The formation of the European Economic Community EEC   and later the signing of the Treaty of Maastricht in 19936 ushered in a big leap as far as European integration was concerned. These were to later emerge as case studies of successful regional integration. The change of name from EEC to EU signified the expansion growth the union was undergoing. These developments were not only political, but also economic, social, cultural and linguistic changes. The institutions created under this community played a significant role in strengthening and buttressing the community to what it is today. That the EU integration is developed to the extend of having a full legal system and jurisprudence is pointer to how successful integration can be. A reference to EU law8 which has become part of comparative legal studies across the world is one such proof. Among the EU laws are legislations on and provisions of the EU treaty on immigration, visa regulation, and free movement of persons within the union9 and outside the union who are citizens of member states or non members. A study of this EU law will reveal the impact of the aforesaid law on integration in the EU.


Source: Authors’ Creativity

The figure 1 shows a conceptual framework with varies variable pointing to the prospect of a strong integrated EAC.  The dependent variable in this model are the other members of the EAC currently they include Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Southern Sudan and Burundi, with a future prospective members of Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Ethiopia. The dependent variable as argued is a strong and composed EAC with achieved vision of having a common market, custom union, monetary union, and political federation. The key driving force toward success of the respective is having Tanzania as catalysts member to enforce a strong integrated EAC in terms of its potentials in resources, population, political, infrastructure and energy.

8.0 Results and Discussions

8.1 Rationale of the EAC Integration for Tanzania

Reith S. et all (2011) has contended that “country’s neighborhood matters for regional integration and growth spillovers from across borders are among the main benefits of regional integration. In a more integrated economic space, the long-run growth prospects of countries become interlinked as markets of neighboring countries become more accessible”. Kiraso (2010) argues that, when two or more states come together to trade as a block thereby creating a bigger consumer base for their products and services. Thus, growth in neighboring countries enhances domestic growth, which benefits neighbors. This spatial multiplier enhances the rewards to good policy and contributes to convergence in living standards.

The idea that economic integration can promote regional (or global) co-operation among states finds its sources in several theories of International Relations. Neo-functionalism, for instance, which was particularly influential in its time as a theory of European integration, predicted that two kinds of “spillover” would occur to sustain and deepen integration. The first kind of spillover was functional, “whereby partial small initial steps down the integration road would create new problems that could only be solved by further cooperation.” The second kind of spillover was political: “the existence of supranational institutions would set in motion a self-reinforcing process of institution building” (Folayan O.  1975). Tanzania stands for this theory by aspiring to deepening and broadening integration as one important way to contribute to sustained rapid growth and greater poverty reduction for the people of EAC. The end result of integration should be greater inclusiveness among Tanzania and East African people.

According to Binto (2012) in the paper of Ngowi (2009), Tanzania joined different regional integration as an essential plank of their development strategy, and an important ingredient in stimulating increased social, political and economic progress. This is in line with the Treaty of the East African Community (EAC), signed on 30 November 1999, seeks to promote and strengthen the balanced and sustainable integration of economic, social, cultural and political aspects of the three member states: Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. To this end Meredith (2005) argues that the EAC will promote regional projects, facilitating the movement of people and vehicles across borders, harmonizing policies and regulations for trade and investments and promoting regional infrastructure. EAC is implementing its Development Strategy launched in April, 2001 with programmes such as Lake Victoria Basin development, agriculture and food security, energy, tourism, civil aviation safety, postal services, meteorology, and inter-university cooperation. To enhance good governance in the region, two organs of the Community, namely the EAC Court of Justice and the EAC Legislative Assembly were launched in November, 2001. Efforts for concluding the Customs Union Protocol are at an advanced stage (Kimario, 2011).

The EAC will promote regional and continental inter-linkages, the involvement of the private sector, exports to the region and beyond, and facilitate cross border movements.

Tanzania believes that the EAC will assist the region to create a promising future and stability, peace, security, democracy, prosperity and equity. It is, therefore, to Member States, collectively and individually, that place the hope for the effective and timely realization of the goals that with regard to politics, defence and security cooperation, priorities include preventing, managing and resolving conflicts so as to strengthen and sustain national and regional stability, peace and security. This is in concurrence with Article 5(3) (f) on the objectives of the EAC, which reads:

For purposes set out in paragraph 1 of this Article and as subsequently provided in particular provisions of this Treaty, the Community shall ensure: and sub paragraph (f) continues “the promotion of peace, security, and stability within, and good neighborliness’ among, the Partner States”.

8.2 Tanzania Unique status in the EAC

Kamala (2012), identified factors which qualify Tanzania as the gateway in the East African Community, which includes macroeconomic stability, strategic geographical location, the heart of East African Community transport network, hub of EAC Master Power Plan, nucleus of EAC single Customs Union Territory, focal point of the planed COMESA -EAC – SADC Free Trade Area, regional hub of EAC intra-regional trade, regional hub of investments opportunities, EAC food basket and EAC regional tourism hub. Salim,A and Eyakuze, A. (2012) narrowed the scope in four distinct areas that Tanzania stands as the strategic member in the development and prosperity of the East African Community, These include: Political capital, Demography ,Geography and Resources. All of these areas can and in many ways should be the bedrock on which Tanzania can anchor its self-assured engagement with regional integration.

Political Capital: Despite having been ruled by the same political apparatus since its independence in 1961 the country has enjoyed peace, harmony, democracy and governance to a great extent than any other country in East Africa. Good politics and good governance has made Tanzania an icon for peace and tranquility in Africa. Tanzania has been the designated honest broker in a crisis prone region. Historically, Tanzania has mediated many regional conflicts and has been viewed as a neutral stakeholder whose orientation is peace building (Baregu, 2004). In the late 1990s Mwalimu Nyerere served as a mediator trying to bring the different factions in Burundi towards a peace agreement. In 2006, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa was sent to mediate Zimbabwe’s political crisis in attempts to resolve the diplomatic stand-off between Britain and Harare. Most recently, Tanzania was heavily involved in solving the post-election crisis that gripped Kenya for months during the 2007 general election. With its historical reputation of being a leader and consensus builder, Tanzania has enough political capital to mediate many of the challenges East Africa faces (Salim, A and Eyakuze, A.2012).

Demography: Tanzania is by far the largest and most populous member of the East African Community. As of 2012, there were an estimated 45 million Tanzanians accounting for 32% of the 139 million East Africans. This share is projected to increase to 34% of the expected 237 million East Africans by 2030 translating to an 82 million Tanzanians as according to Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics (Khadiagala, 2009). Therefore, Tanzanian population gives recommendable domestic market in the EAC goods and services, which other countries can not dare to miss.

Geography: Geographically, Tanzania accounts for 52% of East Africa’s Total combined area of 2.01 million sq km and even though it has the largest population in the region there is significant land available. This is demonstrated by its small population density, which is the lowest in the region at 47 people per square kilometer. In comparison, Rwanda and Burundi have the highest with 403 and 301 people per square kilometer respectively. By 2030, Tanzania will be the only country in the region with less than 100 people per square kilometer. As a result Tanzania has a commanding advantage when it comes to land availability and usage (Tanzania government portal, 2014)

Tanzania is the only member of East African Community which shares the border with all EAC partner states. Currently, EAC is constructing “One-Border-Posts” with the purpose of facilitating EAC intra regional trade. The Border Posts under construction are: Rusumo/Rusumo(Tanzania and Rwanda); Namanga/Namanga (Tanzania and Kenya); Sirari/Isebania (Tanzania and Kenya); Holili/Taveta (Tanzania and Kenya) Horohoro/Lungalunga (Tanzania and Kenya); Mutukula/Mutukula (Tanzania and Uganda); and Kabanga/Kobero (Tanzania and Burundi). Therefore, the geographical Location of Tanzania makes Tanzania A hub of the East Africa Integration of which can never be excluded (Sezibera, 2016).

Infrastructure: Given Tanzania strategic geographical location, Tanzania is the heart of EAC transport network. EAC partner states agreed on five transport corridors which constitute EAC Road Network. Four out of the five transport corridors starts from Tanzania to EAC countries.  Five East African Community major transport corridors are: Mombasa – Malaba- Kigali – Bujumbura, Dar es Salaam- Rusumo, with branches to Kigali, Bujumbura, Masaka and Kampala, Biharamuro- Sirari-Lodwar – Lokichogio, Nyakanazi- Kasulu- Tunduma with a branch to Bujumbura and Tunduma – Dodoma- Namanga-Moyale. Thus, 80% of East Africa Road network transit corridors start from Tanzania to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.


Tanzania also boasts the largest coastline in the region and has three ports Dar es Salaam, Mtwara and Tanga and one is in plan to be constructed in Bagamoyo. Countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are reliant on Tanzania for direct access to the Indian Ocean. The opportunities in this are endless and Tanzania should be used as a gateway to middle Africa.

Resources: Tanzania also has a wealth of natural resources that it can use to boost its economic development and invest in regional development. Its reach natural resources including iron ores soon will be in effective use and hence giving rise to Tanzania as a source of Iron and iron materials in the region. It also has more arable land than any other country in the community. Tanzania arable land accounts to 44 million hectors, which potentially not only make it the EAC’s central breadbasket, but Africa’s in general. Southern Tanzania is rich with natural re-sources and has the capability of feeding those in need in southern Kenya and Ethiopia. From the natural Resources endowment of tourism attractions Tanzania is the EAC Regional tourism hub. Tanzania has over 46,000 square kilometers of land reserved for National Parks. There is no any other East African country with such a huge piece of land dedicated to National Parks. Tanzania, has many more tourism attractions such as Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, Zanzibar, Serengeti National Park, Katavi National Park and Ruaha National Park to mention a few. A number of investments opportunities are available in tourism sector (Uwe, 1999).

Energy Hub: Tanzania has become an energy potential than the other four countries combined and will become soon the region’s energy powerhouse, after the discovery of large amount of gases and the amount of coal deposit. Energy is potential for industrialization and manufacturing, therefore after the discovery of this potential supply of energy Tanzania opens for vast investment and industrialization. Tanzania is also the Hub of East African Community Master Power Plan. In response to the recurring shortage of electrical energy, in EAC partner states, EAC established EAC Master Power Plan. Most of the projects identified in EAC Master Power Plan are based in Tanzania. The identified project are: Singida-Arusha-Nairobi 400kV Interconnector; Masaka-Mwanza 220kV Interconnector; Rusumo-Nyakanazi 220kV Interconnector; Stieglers Gorge Hydro-Power Project 2100MW; Kiwira Coal 200MW; and Rusumo Hydro Power Plant 90MW (Kamala,2012).


8.3 Achievements of the East African Community

The cross border movement of persons and goods has been eased through a number of measures, example, the introduction of the East African passport, special immigration desks for East African citizens at international airports, re-introduction of interstate passes, and withdrawal of visa charges for students and harmonization of vehicle transit procedures. The free convertibility of the currencies of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda already introduced in 1977 (Durgesh, 2010). There has also been progress in a number of measures to improve East African infrastructure, for example in road improvement, telecommunication, civil aviation, postal services, energy and related areas and meteorology.

The customs union launched in 2005 eliminates all internal tariffs and other similar charges on trade between the partner states. It was agreed that the customs Union would be gradually implemented over a period of five years. Partner states immediately agreed that goods to and from Uganda and Tanzania shall be duty free.  From the start, imports of goods from Uganda and Tanzania into Kenya were free of duty, while goods from Kenya into Uganda and Tanzania were subject to two categories of import duty. C category A goods were duty free, and Category B goods from Kenya into Uganda and Tanzania have the present tariffs phased out over a five-year period. (Ojo et al. 1985)

The customs Union Protocol also established three-brand common external tariffs (CET) with a minimum rate of 0%, a middle rate of 10% and a maximum rate of 25%. The highest CET rate of 25% is to be reviewed by the partner states after a period of five years and possibly be reduced to 20%. The partner states also agreed that all non-tariff barriers should be removed and that no new non-tariff barriers should be imposed (Durgesh, 2010).

9.0 Conclusions

In conclusion, it can be stated that aspirations and prospects for an East African Federation are neither new nor unrealistic. However, unity, peace, true democracy and equality within and amongst member states, are a pre-requisite for a viable federation. These variables provide a vitally important environment for an honest and better, and a meaningful referendum on a federation. Members of the EAC need to work first on developing their environment including governance systems and on these elements Tanzania is outstanding in the region. Despite the weakness that Tanzania is experiencing, the country has enjoyed peace, harmony, democracy and governance to a great extent. It stands as a strategic player with unique status in the EAC because of the Political capital, Demography, Geography and Resources variables. All of these areas can and in many ways should be the bedrock on which Tanzania can anchor its self-assured engagement and unquestionable status in the East Africa Community. Thus the argument asserted by the paper “Tanzania Unique Status in the Opulence of the East African Communityis valid and relevant.

This paper is concluding by making Tanzania to stand out of other EAC which are marred with more weaknesses compared to Tanzania. To highlight few issues like the post-election violence in Kenya in 2008 that killed more than 1,000 people was a painful reminder of the severe deficiencies in the political system and also a bold demonstration of the quest for free and fair elections. To its credit, Kenya has been able to pass a new constitution which puts more effective checks and balances into place for the governance of the country. If the spirit and the letter of the new constitution are fully implemented, one can argue that Kenya is in a positive trajectory in its governance. But Kenya needs to gain experience with its new constitution before it propels itself into a federation.

In Rwanda almost all economic indicators suggest that it is doing quite well. President Kagame deserves credit. However, he seems to be following in President Museveni’s footsteps in thinking that he is indispensable. Critical elements of governance are missing in the country including participation of citizen in issues that affect their lives, democracy, and freedom of speech and the rule of law. Many analysts consider Burundi as a failed state. What is perplexing about African politics is that in the last 20 years it has been the autocratic leaders who have been major lobbyists for the political unification of Africa. In the lead was President Gaddafi of Libya. In fact, the precursor to the establishment of the AU was a special OAU summit of African heads of state initiated and hosted by Gaddafi in Sirte, Libya, in 1999, at which point it was declared (in the Sirte Declaration) that steps towards integration must be accelerated. The 2015 elections brought a lot miseries and traumas to Burundians and thus absence of true peace and democracy is a common practice in the country.

Indeed, in often times, dictators and autocratic leaders seek to divert attention from discontent at home by engaging in grandiose international initiatives. There might be some elements of that phenomenon going on in East Africa. Nonetheless, an East African Federation cannot be an “arranged marriage” brought about by overzealous politicians who think they are indispensable or entitled to power because of what they believe they have accomplished. Such a union will, sooner or later, break. What is needed at this point is for the East African countries to continue to solidify their economic integration, implement policies that increase the standard of living for all people, improve domestic governance with checks and balances, and develop genuine democracies at home. This calls for an exemplary country in the respective region of which Tanzania could take that leading role as it has demonstrated to intervene the conflict in Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda during the 2007 election, during the 2015 election and in the DRC visas Rwanda conflict.

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