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Saturday another milestone for EAC

By Editorial | November 27th 2013

EAST AFRICA: East Africans will on Saturday witness another milestone as the region seeks growth and development through integration. In Kampala, the five EAC Heads of State will be signing to commit respective member states to use of a single currency across the region.

The Monetary Union, as it is commonly known, is the region’s third protocol after the Customs Union and the Common Market Protocol. It is a precursor to adopting a single currency over the next decade.

The move should allays fears that the bloc is heading down the dangerous slope of disintegration with recent perceptions of Tanzania’s isolation. A single currency is touted as key to reducing the costs and risks of transacting business across borders of partner states in the bloc.

But more than that, a Customs Union is perhaps the first real test of commitment to regional integration. It involves aspects that directly, albeit invasively,touch not only on sovereignty, but also on a nation’s own sense of identity and even economic advantage.

Full harmonisation

The fact that the countries are experiencing varying levels of economic development and circumstances is certain to be a cause for unease and one that calls for sober debate. Its implementation requires more than use of a single EAC currency.

At the minimum, it will involve harmonisation of statistics and macro-economic elements, legal, institutional and economic reforms within the five EAC partner states of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

That the five Heads of State have accepted to commit their countries to this agreement demonstrates a certain level of willingness to sacrifice — sometimes in real value. All this, will, however, amount to nothing if they do not match action with intention.

Like the first two protocols yet to be fully implemented, the Monetary Union risks remaining a statement of purpose and one which nobody wants to respect. 

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