News / Africa

East Africa Looks Towards Single Currency by 2012

Michael Onyiego

With the East African Community Common Market Protocol now in effect, the region is looking to launch a single currency by 2012.  Many hope the integration will break down economic barriers across the region, but there is much work to be done before the regional dream is realized.  

The members of the East African Community, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and Uganda, officially launched the Common Market Protocol on July 1.  Under the protocol, the region hopes to unlock the economic potential of its vast natural resources and more than 130 million inhabitants.

With the start of the common market, member states have agreed to open their borders to each other and allow goods and services to move between countries without fees or restrictions.  The protocol has also removed barriers for people, allowing citizens in the region to live and work anywhere in East Africa without work permits.

The common market is essentially the first phase in the vision for regional integration.  By 2012, the East African Community hopes to implement a single currency and monetary union for member states.

Analyst on the Kenyan economy Robert Shaw says integration makes perfect sense for East Africa.

"In the global world, a single country, and particularly a single African country which has a very small economy, it makes sense for there to be a greater bloc, for two reasons:  One, the potential for trading within that block is great, and we've seen it.  We've seen it even with the tentative moves that have gone so far," said Shaw.  "The increasing trading between Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, to a lesser extent Rwanda, etc. has increased year after year.  It makes sense.  The second point there is, that the bigger your market, that is much more attractive for investors, locally and internationally."

Investors are already taking notice of the region's potential.  According to the United Nation's 2010 World Investment Report, the region received more than $2 billion worth of foreign investment in 2009 alone.  Shortly after the common market became operational, Turkey announced it would establish an export processing zone within the East AFrican Community to expand trade with the region.

The promise of the new market is also attracting new countries.  South Sudan is widely expected to become an independent state after a referendum this January.  Analysts such as Robert Shaw believe the new state will opt to join the EAC.

But there are many obstacles to overcome before a single east African currency can become reality.

The common market took effect on July 1, but Shaw notes there are still many barriers preventing its full implementation.  All of the EAC members agree in principle to the benefits of the expanded market, but there are differing visions for achieving it.

While Kenya and Rwanda have already moved to eliminate work permit requirements for east African citizens, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have retained their requirements.  The Ugandan government has also advocated for regional work permits rather than their complete elimination.

And despite the elimination of visas for citizens in the region, many are still subject to restrictions at the border.

But many in the East African Community remain confident that a monetary union can be achieved by 2012.

EAC Deputy Secretary General Alloys Mutabingwa says that concerted regional reform will lay the groundwork for a common currency.

"It is sounding ambitious, but we are optimistic we will achieve that target.  For the common currency to effectively be in place, we are looking at three main things to be accomplished.  One is the common market itself having to be effective,"Mutabingwa said.  "Two is the convergence of most of our macroeconomic policies.  Three is the legal side; the laws governing the common market having to be integrated."  

According to Mutabingwa, EAC members will start negotiations soon to unify regional policy regarding the market.  The deputy secretary general also told VOA that mechanisms such as an East African Community Monetary Institute were being established to guide the integration process and oversee the creation of the common currency.

If the monetary union is established, it could be a step towards an even more ambitious venture.

The stated goal of the East African Community is to set up a political federation by 2015.  While expectations for the proposed state range from a European-style union to a fully integrated east African nation, observers believe the federation could be an economic and political leader in Africa.

But the success of the federation is dependent on the success of the current economic integration.  If the common market and the monetary union are properly implemented, they could create a new country on the continent.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid