Revival of the New East African Community: A New Era of Economic Integration or Re-division among African Regional Powers?

Gasiano G.N. Sumbai


This paper examines the forces behind the revival of the East African Community in 1999 and its impact on the structural economic relations in East African countries. It uses political economy as a guiding theory in the analysis. Drawing on a range of written sources ranging from documents of the East Africa Community itself and Southern Africa Development Community such as declarations, protocols, policy statements, trade statistics and parliamentary speeches and secondary sources such as books and newspapers, this paper demonstrates that the interface between the global and regional forces relating to the demise of the Cold War and an effort to create new regional and global structural relations in the post-Cold War caused East African states to revive the defunct East African Community as part of the post-Cold War realignment. Kenya as a regional economic powerhouse driven by agricultural, manufacturing, financial and tourism sectors struggled to protect her national economic interests through regional integration that would limit the growing influence of the post-Apartheid South Africa in eastern Africa. Despite the revival of the Community, the integration did not facilitate Tanzania and Uganda to address the colonial structural economic imbalances, some of which were economic legacies and others emerged during the post-colonial period. Therefore, Tanzania and Uganda continued to depend on Western Europe, North America, Japan and China as their major trading partners, source of capital and technology while Kenya continued to be a regional economic powerhouse.


East African Community, cold war, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda

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