by Seth BUTERA May 17, 2021
The establishment and structure of the East African Community (EAC) dates back to late 1999 when it was signed and entered into force later on 7th July 2000 following its ratification by the Original 3 Partner States of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania but was later joined by other members including Rwanda, Burundi and recently The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
Throughout its inception, the block had impressive and promising mandates among which was the eradication of trade barriers, free movement of people, and many other political, economic, and social mutual benefits.
Seven years into its existence, on 18 June 2007, the block accepted new members of Rwanda and Burundi as full members, and everyone starting to feel excited and looked forward to a borderless East Africa that will create mutual political, economic, and social benefits for its people as well as positioning itself as a single and competitive destination before the world with a collective voice.
From the Tourism & Hospitality perspective, this was a great milestone and it possessed strong potential as the region stands out competitively as a single destination for tourists across the world.
Early 2014 we witnessed the introduction of amazing regional initiatives through the Northern Corridor heads of state summit among which as the East Africa Tourist Visa and Use of national IDs to cross borders that were introduced after the presidents of Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda sat down and decided that a single entry visa would help sell East African countries as a single tourist destination
However, with all the enthusiasm and excitement from the tourism and hospitality practitioners, These great initiatives were objected by key members states among which was the Republic of Tanzania citing the need to protect domestic interests among others
Regardless of the proven great mutual interests that were explained by experts using numbers and facts, the Tanzania government has up to date remained reluctant on the implementation of any of the above initiatives.
From the recent visit by the new Tanzania Head of state to Kenya where she was heard promising great partnership and cooperation with neighbors citing the strong relationship and brotherhood between the two nations. This left many of us who still believe in the strengths of togetherness optimistic and wondering if we should raise our expectations and think positively that things are about to get better and she (Her excellence Samia Suluhu Hassan) shall possibly embrace the EAC single Tourist Visa and Use of IDs by the locals like it is done between Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda?
With the current political differences between some of the member states of the East African community, The future of the block remains uncertain and one would only wonder if the well-intended initiatives will not eventually die out sooner than later.