The East African Community is not delivering the required outcomes because the Member States are prioritizing individual interests.
The First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the East African Community (EAC), Rebecca Kadaga says the member states have put in place laws and rules that seem to protect their national sovereignties as opposed to the spirit of regional integration.
The EAC was revived by a membership treaty signed by Uganda Kenya and Tanzania in 1999 as the original members and was operationalized in 2000.
The community has now grown to 7 members after the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) assented to the treaty this month.
The community has so far signed three protocols that include the common market and the common customs union.
The others that are yet to be signed are monetary union and full political federation.
Several actions of member states indicate slow adherence to the signed protocols.
Occasionally Kenya has banned Uganda goods like maize and poultry products into its territory which is a nontariff barrier.
Rwanda closed its border with Uganda from 2019 to 2022, and South Sudan still charges visa fees even for East African citizens.
According to Kadaga, such actions adversely affect the East African protocols.
She says that for the challenges to be mitigated, the confederation should be first tracked because it will provide for clear areas of agreement.
The Uganda Private Sector also identifies state sovereignty as a hindrance to smooth running and implementation of the protocols’ intended goals.
Francis Kisirinya the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Private Sector Foundation (PSF), says that as the business community, they have gone through numerous challenges as countries are protecting their sovereignty.
He added that the community leaders should work out a mechanism through which they can engage with respect, as equal partners to resolve clashes between individual state interests and the treaty protocols.
Henry Jemba the port-related business coordinator for the Kampala City Trader’s association (KACITA), says that countries focusing more on their interests, encourages protectionism which is bad trading leading to unfair competition.