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East Africa

Author: Okodan Akwap. PHOTO/FILE. /Photo Courtesy

Did Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba’s joke about invading Kenya touch something needed to move the East African Community (EAC) to a political federation? Let’s look at history.


In 1919, the League of Nations was created after a devastating World War I, also known as the “Great War.” The League was supposed to make sure that such barbaric behaviour would give way to a world of peace, democracy and international law. The league collapsed quickly, partly because the US Senate did not ratify its treaty.

It was replaced by the United Nations in 1945, after an even more devastating World War II, which saw two nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, causing indescribable loss of life and property. That’s what shaped the world as we know it today. That world is full of notions of regional integration, but with differing priorities. 


According to the World Bank, regional integration has allowed countries to improve market efficiency, share the costs of large infrastructure projects, decide policy cooperatively, have a building block for global integration, and reap other non-economic benefits, such as peace and security.

However, the bank notes the fact that countries may have different preferences on priorities for regional integration, depending on their connectivity gaps, economic geography, or preferences for sovereignty in specific areas.

The history of EAC attests to this. It collapsed in 1977 and was revived in 1999. But the first stage of a free trade area was skipped. We started from the stage of a customs union. Quickly a common market was announced and now there is talk about a monetary union, which would be a step away from a political federation. This is a huge mistake.

At the free trade area stage, pertinent issues would have been ironed out. For example, tariffs between EAC member countries would have been significantly reduced, and some abolished altogether. Each member country would have kept its tariffs regarding third countries, including its economic policy. 

EAC countries would have traded for many years before getting into a customs union, which sets common external tariffs among member countries; the same tariffs would apply to third countries. A common trade regime would be achieved neatly. 

But look at how things turned out. You hear Kenya banning this and that product from Uganda. You hear Tanzania banning this and that product from Kenya. You hear calls for retaliation. And you hear voices for inverting the traditional sequence of moving towards full regional integration to allow political integration to precede economic integration. The idea behind such reasoning is that an economic union can’t work without a political union. 

You will remember that in April 2006, President Museveni appointed Ms Beatrice Kiraso as the deputy Secretary General of the EAC in charge of “fast-tracking political federation.” His argument seemed to be that political aspects should prevail over economic ones in the pursuit of regional integration. But this idea seemed to be unpopular among other EAC members, especially Kenya and Tanzania.

What we don’t seem to be hearing about a lot in East Africa is something called Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure (IIRSA). The thrust of IIRSA would be to create an interconnected network of transport, energy, and communications infrastructure in the seven member countries. I am not aware of any overtly functioning EAC structural policy. 

Given the uncertainty of the trajectory of the EAC, a devastating war sucking in all or most of the members might just be the best thing to let East Africans appreciate the need for regional unity.

Mr Okodan Akwap (PhD) is an associate consultant at Uganda Management Institute.


Although Qatar and Tanzania have always had cordial bilateral relations, these ties have grown stronger since the opening of their respective embassies and the exchange of high-level visits between their leaders.

Tanzania and Qatar have inked an agreement to strengthen bilateral trade and investment ties, authorities confirmed.

The trilateral deal was signed in the Qatari capital on Thursday by various officials, including President of the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA)Paul Koyi, Qatar’s First Vice-Chairman of Chambers of Commerce Mohamed Bin Ahmed Twar Al Kuwari and Chairman of the Zanzibar National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Ali Suleiman Amour.

“Today, we confirm our deep goals to build strategic partnerships that will positively contribute to the economies of the two countries,” the president told the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) in a meeting on Thursday in Doha.

Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani, QBA chairman, said: “There are real investment opportunities in the fields of tourism, agriculture and energy support projects,” adding that after the World Cup, the association will travel to Tanzania as part of a high-level mission.

Meanwhile, Director of Tanzanian Presidential Communications Zuhura Yunus said “the objective of the MoU is to enhance trade and investment cooperation and partnership between business communities from Tanzania and Qatar, particularly in the areas of tourism and hospitality, infrastructure and energy.”

On Tuesday, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania Samia Suluhu Hassan was welcomed by the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at the Amiri Diwan, during her visit to the country to take part in the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH).

In addition to discussing a number of regional and global issues of shared interest, the two leaders discussed ways to strengthen and deepen the two nations’ cooperation relations in a variety of fields. 

According to Tanzanian President Hassan, Qatar and Tanzania have enormous potential to expand their cooperation in areas including trade, investments, tourism, gas exploration, port development, agriculture, and energy.

The two countries also agreed to share expertise on emergency and trauma care.

The establishment of Widam Tanzania

The latest development comes as ‘Widam Tanzania’ Company, which specialises in trading and exporting meat to Qatar and the rest of the region, kicked off the process to establish a presence in the African nation.

Widam Tanzania’s import of meat will help to cover the rising demand in the local market at reasonable prices, especially in light of the inflation witnessed by global meat prices, the company said in a statement posted on Qatar Stock Exchange’s website.

This is in line with Widam Company’s strategy, which seeks to expand its foreign commercial activity.

The establishment of Widam Tanzania also aims to improve meat import operations from international meat-exporting nations to the State of Qatar and the surrounding area, including the Republic of Tanzania, whose products have seen an increase in sales recently due to their high quality, and affordability. - Hazar Kilani, Doha News

  • Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua during the launch of their manifesto on June 6, 2022.COURTESY 
  • Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his former Running mate Martha Karua could secure slots in Parliament if a petition filed at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) sails through.

    Authored by a Nairobi architect, Nyongesa Makhanu, the petition dated September 30, 2022, proposes that the Constitution be changed to allow Presidential candidate runners up secure a slot as a Nominated MP in the National Assembly.

    The petitioner also seeks to have the runners up's running mate automatically nominated to the Senate. If his petition goes through, the former Prime Minister would make a comeback in the 13th Parliament, 10 years since he represented Lang'ata Constituency between 1997 and 2013. Between 2008 and 2013, Raila doubled as an MP as well as the Prime Minister.

    IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati addressing the press at the IEBC headquarters at Anniversary Towers on Monday, September 5, 2022..jpg
    IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati addressing the press at the IEBC headquarters at Anniversary Towers on Monday, September 5, 2022.

    For Martha Karua, however, it would be her first time in the Senate since the advent of Devolution in 2013 in line with the 2010 Constitution. 

    Makhanu, in his petition to IEBC headed by Wafula Chebukati, also seeks to change the election date to the third week of December from the current August.

    He defended his proposal arguing that December was the most suitable date since it had minimal effect on the economic being of the country as well as the school calendar and work schedules.

    "That holding presidential election on the Second Tuesday of August affects national economic activities negatively, particularly the tourism sector because it clashes with the season for the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystem.

    "That holding presidential elections and General Election after Jamhuri Day and before Christmas will be more in synchrony with the national economic, financial, and academic calendars," he stated.

    The voting date was moved to August as the country sought to have as many Kenyans registered as voters in their current residencies as opposed to upcountry travel which then affects service delivery. Makhanu, however, argued that the voting style in Kenya is tribal and leads to voter apathy. 

    Other changes to the Constitution the Nairobian is seeking is to make the presidency rotational, to allow every tribe to lead in future.

    He argued that the Constitution should bar candidates from the tribes of the sitting President as well as that his/her predecessor for a better representation. He, however, exempted the sitting President at the time of the new law's enactment.

    IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati releasing the presidential election results at Bomas of Kenya on August 15, 2022
    IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati releasing the presidential election results at Bomas of Kenya on August 15, 2022 By Derrick Okubasu, KENYANS.CO.KE

NO fewer than 76 persons are missing in a boat mishap that occurred in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State. 

It was gathered that the tragedy took place at the weekend in Umunnankwo community. 

Eyewitnesses said, the ill-fated boat, which had about 85 persons on board, took off from Onukwu Bridge and was heading to Nkwo market, Ogbakuba before it capsized. 
According to Pascal Anieg- buna, the transition committee chairman of Ogbaru Local Government Area, “while some of the passengers were rescued, several others, unfortunately, lost their lives. 

A source in SEMA who craved anonymity because he was not yet authorised to speak on the development said, “An engine boat that loaded about 85 passengers at Onukwu bridge Ossomalaen route to Nkwo Ogbakuba market capsized this morning. Only nine passengers were rescued, the rest are yet to be seen. I wasn’t there when the boat loaded but the information we got unofficially is that, it loaded 85.” 

Speaking with journalists on Saturday, a former House of Representatives member, Honourable Victor Afam Ogene, expressed shock and deep sorrow over the development which he said claimed the lives of several people. 

Ogene, who is the Labour Party 2023 House of Representatives candidate for Ogbaru Federal Constitu- ency said, Ogbaru was devastated and in shock over the horrendous boat accident that took the precious lives of some of its sons and daughters.  By Michael Ovat - Awka, Nigerian Tribune

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