EAC states called to cherish common interest

DAR ES SALAAM: EAST Africa Community (EAC) member states should promote regional economic integration for mutual benefits against self-interests that may plunge the block into conflicts, diplomats have said.

Ambassador Costa Ricky Mahalu told the ‘Daily News’ that EAC member states should focus on widening and deepening of cooperation among them in the economic and social fields for the benefit of all.

“We must look at things as East Africans united by similar history. Strong economic competition among member states intending to win one another is a problem. We must create a just system for opportunities to all,” said Prof Mahalu in an interview.

He said all member states should always feel obliged to contribute to the success of their common market. If we want to live together as children of one family (EAC), we must figure out best ways to solve our contradicting problems through negotiation and dialogue,” he said.

He said disputes among the member states undermine the objectives of integration of the EAC and hinder the movement of people, and flow of goods and services.

Prof Mahalu called on leaders to prioritise citizens’ interests which are embedded in cooperation and attaining development from the bloc rather than leaders’ self-fulfillment at the expense of their people.

On his side, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim Centre for Foreign Relations’s Lecturer of International Relations, Mr Deus Kibamba said there was a need for member states to have a more proactive approach to dealing with conflicts and heighten unity and understanding.

“Proactive action entails consistent planning for preventing conflicts. There should be an early warning programme for dealing with conflict settlement in the EAC,” Mr Kibamba said.

Furthermore, he called for the formation of a pool of experts responsible for country-to-country negotiations.

Mr Kibamba said the member states should not get blinded by economic competition to give up their target of attaining a single currency.

“We need to fast-track integration of East Africa to catch up with the envisioned targets by the founders of the bloc,” he said.

Nevertheless, he suggested effective people-to-people relations within the regional bloc, saying such a move would enable people to enjoy the wider market provided by the bloc of eight nations with a total of over 300 million population.

A political analyst, Dr Sylvester Jotta based at the Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) said good governance among member states which involves adherence to democratic principles including the rule of law will prevent conflicts and boost trade as well as production.

Another political analyst, Mr Hamiduni Maliseli said the EAC has great economic potential provided that all member states focus on the effective exploitation of resources available including minerals, Lake Victoria resources and fertile land for the prosperity of the bloc.

Mr Maliseli said the EAC’s member states should avoid external pressure meant at fracturing the bloc at the expense of their precious resource available including minerals like copper.

Recently, Ugandan President, Mr Yoweri Museveni during the 60th Zanzibar Revolution held at the New Amaan Sports Complex echoed for unity among African nations for the continents to be self-reliant.

He noted that unity would create a broader market for African countries’ smooth flow of goods and services thus enhancing competition and spurring productivity.

He said the EAC and the AU are essential pillars in realising a common market and fostering economic growth in the continent.

“When you are a producer, what first clicks in the mind is the market, where can I sell my produce? It is from this ground, revolutionists and producers, that we believe in the East Africa Community (EAC) and the African Union (AU). We want a common market.” Mr Museveni said.

President Museveni expressed concern about countries deviating from Pan-Africanist perspectives by prioritising overseas goods and thereby undermining efforts to achieve self-sufficiency.

To reinforce multilateral and bilateral cooperation, Museveni affirmed Uganda’s commitment to open trade with African countries, including Tanzania, with a focus on widening the market and embracing Pan-Africanism.

He warned against trade embargoes, stating that such actions could lead to retaliatory measures, hindering the continent’s common market and overall economic growth.

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