The East African Community (EAC) marks 20 years in which it has grown in leaps and bounds. It has registered a number of achievements in the socio-economic spheres. These include intra-EAC Trade facilitation through establishment of One-Stop Border Posts, Electronic Single Tracking Window, undertaking measures to eliminate Non-Tariff Barriers, establishment of One Area Network and Single Tourist Visas among Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. Furthermore, whereas Intra-EAC Trade is still low (standing at less than 20% compared to 46% for SADC and 67% for the EU), it is still key to commend the efforts put in place by the Partner States to facilitate and increase Intra-EAC Trade. Indeed, according to UNCTAD, the EAC region is the fastest-growing economic bloc in Africa, with growth projected at 6.2 per cent in 2019, increasing from 5.9 per cent in 2018.
It is due to these impressive strides and achievements that that the number of Partner States has also grown from three (Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya) to six with the joining of Burundi, Rwanda (both in 2007) and South Sudan (2016). In addition to this, both the Republics
of Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo have applied to join the EAC.
However, while the EAC has registered the above achievements, there are also key challenges that are facing the region. These range from political and trade tensions. Indeed, the EAC is still facing challenges of Non-Tarif Barriers, Political Instabilities and Political tensions between Partner States. Trade tensions in the bloc which have often resulted into embargoes and restrictions on some products have now escalated into arbitrary closure of borders, like the ongoing Gatuna-Katuna and Cyanika Border posts closure.
It is against this background that EASSI, SEATINI and CEFROHT organised the public dialogue with the theme, “20 Years of the EAC: Progress, Prospects and Challenges” held at Hotel Africa, Kampala-Uganda. The objectives of the meeting were;