East African Community

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East African Community
  • Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki (Swahili)
  • Communauté d'Afrique de l'Est (French)
  • Umuryango w’Ibihugu by’Iburasirazuba bw’Afurika (Kinyarwanda)
  • Bulshada Bariga Afrika (Somali)
  • Lisanga ya Afrika ya Est (Lingala)
  • ekitundu ky’obuvanjuba bwa Afrika (Luganda)
Motto: "Ushirikiano wa Afrika Mashariki"
Anthem: "Wimbo wa Jumuiya Afrika Mashariki"
An orthographic map projection of the world, highlighting the East African Community's member states (green)
An orthographic map projection of the world, highlighting the East African Community's member states (green)
HeadquartersArusha, Tanzania
3°22′S 36°41′E / 3.367°S 36.683°E / -3.367; 36.683
Largest cityKinshasa, DR Congo
Official languagesSwahili, English,[1] French
Lingua francaSwahili[1]
Demonym(s)East African
Partner states
• Summit Chairperson
South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit[2]
• Council Chairperson
South Sudan Deng Dau Deng
• EACJ President
Burundi Nestor Kayobera
• EALA Speaker
Burundi Joseph Ntakarutimana
Kenya Peter Mathuki
LegislatureLegislative Assembly
• First established
• Dissolved
• Re-established
7 July 2000
• Total
5,448,020 km2 (2,103,490 sq mi) (7th)
• Water (%)
• 2022 estimate
312,362,653 (4th)
• Density
58.4/km2 (151.3/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2022 estimate
• Total
US$923.532 billion[3] (34th)
• Per capita
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
• Total
US$332.764 billion[4] (50th)
• Per capita
HDI (2019)0.540
CurrencyEast African shilling (EAS)
www.eac.int Edit this at Wikidata

The East African Community (EAC) is an intergovernmental organisation composed of eight countries in East Africa. The member states are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Federal Republic of Somalia, the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.[5] Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of South Sudan, is the current EAC chairman. The organisation was founded in 1967, collapsed in 1977, and was revived on 7th July 2000.[6] The main objective of the EAC was to foster regional economic integration.

In 2008, after negotiations with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the EAC agreed to an expanded free trade area including the member states of all three organizations. The EAC is an integral part of the African Economic Community.

The EAC is a potential precursor to the establishment of the East African Federation, a proposed federation of its members into a single sovereign state.[7] In 2010, the EAC launched its own common market for goods, labour, and capital within the region, with the goal of creating a common currency and eventually a full political federation.[8] In 2013, a protocol was signed outlining their plans for launching a monetary union within 10 years.[9] In September 2018, a committee was formed to begin the process of drafting a regional constitution.[10]


Formation and re-formation[edit]

From left to right: President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania during the eighth EAC summit in Arusha, November 2006.

Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda have cooperated with each other since the early 20th century. The East African Currency Board provided a common currency from 1919 to 1966. The customs union between Kenya and Uganda in 1917, which Tanganyika joined in 1927, was followed by the East African High Commission (EAHC) from 1948 to 1961, the East African Common Services Organization (EACSO) from 1961 to 1967, and the EAC[11] from 1967 to 1977. Burundi and Rwanda joined the EAC on 6 July 2009.[12]

Inter-territorial co-operation between the Kenya Colony, the Uganda Protectorate, and the Tanganyika Territory was formalised in 1948 by the EAHC. This provided a customs union, a common external tariff, currency, and postage. It also dealt with common services in transport and communications, research, and education. Following independence, these integrated activities were reconstituted and the EAHC was replaced by the EACSO, which many observers thought would lead to a political federation between the three territories. The new organisation ran into difficulties because of the lack of joint planning and fiscal policy, separate political policies, and Kenya's dominant economic position. In 1967, the EACSO was superseded by the EAC. This body aimed to strengthen the ties between the members through a common market, a common customs tariff, and a range of public services to achieve balanced economic growth within the region.[13]

In 1977, the EAC collapsed. The causes of the collapse included demands by Kenya for more seats than Uganda and Tanzania in decision-making organs,[14] disagreements with Ugandan dictator Idi Amin who demanded that Tanzania as a member state of the EAC should not harbour forces fighting to topple the government of another member state, and the disparate economic systems of socialism in Tanzania and capitalism in Kenya.[15] The three member states lost over sixty years of co-operation and the benefits of economies of scale, although some Kenyan government officials celebrated the collapse with champagne.[16]

Presidents Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, Ali Hassan Mwinyi of Tanzania, and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda signed the Treaty for East African Co-operation in Kampala on 30 November 1993 and established a Tri-partite Commission for Co-operation.[17] A process of re-integration was embarked on involving tripartite programmes of co-operation in political, economic, social and cultural fields, research and technology, defence, security, and legal and judicial affairs.

The EAC was revived on 30 November 1999, when the treaty for its re-establishment was signed. It came into force on 7 July 2000, 23 years after the collapse of the previous community and its organs. A customs union was signed in March 2004, which commenced on 1 January 2005. Kenya, the region's largest exporter, continued to pay duties on goods entering the other four countries on a declining scale until 2010. A common system of tariffs will apply to goods imported from third-party countries.[18] On 30 November 2016 it was declared that the immediate aim would be confederation rather than federation.[19]

South Sudan's accession[edit]

The presidents of Kenya and Rwanda invited the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan to apply for membership upon the independence of South Sudan in 2011,[20][21] and South Sudan was reportedly an applicant country as of mid-July 2011.[20][22] Analysts suggested that South Sudan's early efforts to integrate infrastructure, including rail links and oil pipelines,[23] with systems in Kenya and Uganda indicated intention on the part of Juba to pivot away from dependence on Sudan and toward the EAC. Reuters considers South Sudan the likeliest candidate for EAC expansion in the short term,[24] and an article in Tanzanian daily The Citizen that reported East African Legislative Assembly Speaker Abdirahin Haithar Abdi said South Sudan was "free to join the EAC" asserted that analysts believe the country will soon become a full member of the regional body.[25]

On 17 September 2011, the Daily Nation quoted a South Sudanese MP as saying that while his government was eager to join the EAC, it would likely delay its membership over concerns that its economy was not sufficiently developed to compete with EAC member states and could become a "dumping ground" for Kenyan, Tanzanian, and Ugandan exports.[26] This was contradicted by President Salva Kiir, who announced South Sudan had begun the application process one month later.[27] The application was deferred by the EAC in December 2012,[28] however incidents with Ugandan boda-boda operators in South Sudan have created political tension and may delay the process.[29]

In December 2012, Tanzania agreed to South Sudan's bid to join the EAC, clearing the way for the world's newest state to become the regional bloc's sixth member.[30] In May 2013 the EAC set aside US$82,000 for the admission of South Sudan into the bloc even though admission may not happen until 2016. The process, to start after the EAC Council of Ministers meeting in August 2013, was projected to take at least four years. At the 14th Ordinary Summit held in Nairobi in 2012, EAC heads of state approved the verification report that was presented by the Council of Ministers, then directed it to start the negotiation process with South Sudan.[31]

A team was formed to assess South Sudan's bid; however, in April 2014, the nation requested a delay in the admissions process, presumably due to ongoing internal conflict.[32][33]

South Sudan's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, claimed publicly in October 2015 that, following evaluations and meetings of a special technical committee in May, June, August, September and October, the committee has recommended that South Sudan be allowed to join the East African Community. Those recommendations, however, had not been released to the public. It was reported that South Sudan could be admitted as early as November 2015 when the heads of East African States had their summit meeting.[34]

South Sudan was eventually approved for membership to the bloc in March 2016,[35] and signed a treaty of accession in April 2016.[36] It had six months to ratify the agreement, which it did on 5 September, at which point it formally acceded to the community.[37][38] It does not yet participate to the same extent as the other members.[19][timeframe?]

Democratic Republic of the Congo's accession[edit]

In 2010, Tanzanian officials expressed interest in inviting the DR Congo to join the East African Community. The DRC applied for admission to the EAC in June 2019.[39] In June 2021, the EAC Summit launched a verification mission to assess the suitability of the DRC for admission to the Community, and has since drafted a report on their findings which is ready for submission to the EAC Council of Ministers.[40] On 23 November 2021: Ministers in charge of East African Community (EAC) Affairs have recommended for consideration by the EAC Heads of States the report of the verification team on the application by The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to join the Community.[41] In February 2022, the EAC Council of Ministers recommended that the DRC be admitted as a new member state of the EAC.[42] On 18 March 2022, the EAC Secretary-General Peter Mathuki confirmed that the Heads of State would approve the admission on 29 March 2022.[43] The Democratic Republic of the Congo was admitted as a member of the EAC on 29 March 2022, at a virtual Head of State summit chaired by Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya,[44] and officially became a member of the East African Community on 11 July 2022 after depositing the instrument of ratification with the EAC Secretary General at the bloc's headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The accession of the DRC gives the EAC its first port on the West African coast.

Somalia's accession[edit]

Representatives of Somalia applied for membership in the EAC in March 2012.[45] The application was considered by the EAC Heads of State in December 2012, which requested that the EAC Council work with Somalia to verify their application.[46] In February 2015, the EAC again deliberated on the matter but deferred a decision as verification had not yet started nor had preparations with the Somalian government been finalized.[47] During the 22nd Ordinary EAC Heads of State Summit on 22 July 2022, the EAC Heads of State, noted that the verification process for Somalia to join the community needs to be completed expeditiously.[48] In 2023, East African Community (EAC) Secretary-General Peter Mathuki said Somalia had made a critical step towards becoming the eighth member of the bloc, with negotiations on admission set to last from 22 August to 5 September.[49] Somalia was formally admitted on 24 November 2023 during the 23rd ordinary summit of the heads of state, following a five-hour closed-door meeting.[50][51] The treaty of accession was signed on 15 December 2023 at the presidential residence in Kampala, Uganda, with Somalia having 6 months to complete its ratification of the treaty.[52][53] Membership will be official after ratification has been completed.[54] On February 10, 2024, The Parliament endorsed the treaty of accession.[55] Somalia deposited its instruments of ratification on 4 March 2024, thus becoming the eighth member of the organisation.[56]


The geographical region encompassed by the EAC covers an area of 4,810,363 square kilometres (1,857,292 sq mi), with a combined population of about 281,050,447.

Partner states[edit]

Overview of partner states in the East African Community
Country Capital Acces­sion Popula­tion[57] Area (km2) GDP
(US$ bn)[57]
per capita
(US$ bn)[57]
per capita
 Burundi Gitega 2007 12,722,976 27,834 3.4 272.4 10.8 855.6
 DR Congo Kinshasa 2022 95,944,984 2,344,858 51.2 669.4 127.4 1,315.9
 Kenya Nairobi 2000 56,553,921 580,367 114.7 2,252.0 308.7 6,061.4
 Rwanda Kigali 2007 13,705,697 26,338 12.1 910.0 37.2 2,807.6
 Somalia Mogadishu 2024 16,500,000 637,657 12.49 756.98 34.02 2,060[58]
 South Sudan Juba 2016 11,501,583 644,329 5.7 392.7 13.5 927.5
 Tanzania Dodoma 2000 63,732,235 945,087 77.5 1,260.1 206.6 3,358.3
 Uganda Kampala 2000 49,135,753 241,550 46.4 1,060.4 129.5 2,960.5
312,397,152 5,448,020 325 1106.3 834 2841.4

Potential expansion[edit]


In 2019, President Lourenço mediated the re-opening of the borders and ending hostilities between EAC neighbours Rwanda and Uganda. Historically, Angola has been closely involved politically with the DRC with a focus on peace and stability in the DRC. Angola is currently leading the Luanda process for stability in the eastern DRC under the ICGLR with EAC Partner States – Uganda and Rwanda.[59][60]

Central African Republic[edit]

EAC partner states Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda, and Tanzania have been involved in peace keeping missions in the Central African Republic. President Touadera has applauded Rwanda's support in securing peace in the country. With DRC in the EAC, and infrastructure developments from Pointe-Noire in the Republic of Congo to Bangui, the capital of the CAR, as well as inclusion of the country into the LAPSSET project from Lamu-Juba-Bangui-Douala, this could see the mineral and resource rich country realize economic benefits.[61][62]


In July 2023 Kenyan President William Ruto raised the idea of Comoros joining the EAC while signing an agreement for deeper bilateral cooperation between Kenya and Comoros. Comoros and existing member Tanzania have a maritime border.[63]

Republic of the Congo[edit]

The Republic of the Congo enjoys strong historical political, economic and cultural ties with DR Congo. The Republic of Congo is involved, under the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), in the peace and stability efforts in eastern DR Congo together with Angola. Rwandan and Ugandan leaders have been meeting in Luanda with President Sassou Nguesso to support these peace efforts.[60][64]


With Somalia set to join the group in October 2023, the EAC Secretary General hinted that Djibouti and Ethiopia would be joining the EAC bloc to make the market size of the community reach 800 million people.[65]


Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta proposed expanding the EAC to include Central, Northern, and Southern African states, such as Ethiopia.[66] The potential joining of Ethiopia into the EAC would bring the population to approximately 420 million.[67] Speaking at the opening of the One Stop Border post in Moyale in 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia affirmed his commitment to regional integration saying that the east African people are one people and economic integration is a key goal for the region to achieve so as to unlock its potential.[68][69] With other horn of Africa countries like Somalia joining the EAC and the opening up of Ethiopia's sectors such as banking and telecommunications to the private sector, being part of the EAC could soon become a priority to accelerate economic gains.[70] The vision of the region's leaders is to have the community reach 800 million people and to integrate the horn of Africa into the EAC. Ethiopia and Djibouti will soon be joining the EAC, originally planned to be together with Somalia.[65]


In 2010, Tanzanian officials expressed interest in inviting Malawi to join the EAC. Malawian Foreign Affairs Minister Etta Banda said, however, that there were no formal negotiations taking place concerning Malawian membership.[71]


Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in May 2022, hinted at the possibility of deploying an East African regional force to Mozambique to counter insurgency in the Northern Provinces. Rwanda, at the request of Mozambique, in July 2021 had sent a strong contingent to Cabo Delgado. Mozambique shares cultural and historical ties with EAC Partner States. There is a significant Kiswahili speaking population in the country.[72][73]


Sudan applied to join the EAC in 2011, with Burundi, Kenya, and Rwanda supporting membership, while Tanzania and Uganda were opposed to it. They contended that because of the Sudan's lack of a direct border with the EAC at the time, its allegedly discriminatory actions toward black Africans, its record of human rights violations, and its history of hostilities with both South Sudan and Uganda, Sudan was ineligible to join and their application was rejected in December 2012.[74][75]


The "Committee on Fast Tracking East African Federation" was created in 2004, a result of longstanding pressure by President Museveni for further integration. It recommended creating a federation with a single elected president by 2013. National committee in the then-five members to study the issue operated from 2007 to 2009. Except for Tanzania, these committees found that the majority of their populations were in favour of further integration. Nonetheless, while appointed committees continued to study integration until 2012, enthusiasm for the idea waned.[76]: 13.9–13.10  The full implementation of the customs union established in 2005 was repeatedly delayed.[76]: 13.12  The Common Market remains hampered by national restrictions.[76]: 13.13 

Some have questioned the extent to which the visions of a political union are shared outside the elite and the relatively elderly, arguing that the youthful mass of the population is not well informed about the process in any of the countries.[77] Others have pointed to an enhanced sense of East African identity developing from modern communications.[77] For these, the shared vision for a politically united East Africa is commendable and a potential driver for change.[78] Commitment to the formal EAC idea is relatively narrow, in both social and generational terms, and thus many have questioned the timetable for the project. Fast-tracking political union was first discussed in 2004 and enjoyed a consensus among the three presidents of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.[77] Thus, a high-level committee headed by Amos Wako of Kenya was commissioned to investigate the possibility of speeding integration so as to achieve political federation sooner than previously visualised.[77] Yet, there have been concerns that rapid changes would allow popular reactionary politics against the project.[77] There has been an argument, however, that there are high costs that would be required at the beginning and that fast-tracking the project would allow the benefits to be seen earlier.[77] The East African Community appointed South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit as its chairperson in November 2023. However, this decision has been criticized by some regional observers. For example, Duop Chak Wuol, an influential South Sudanese analyst, authored a scathing article, "Justifying Dictatorship in South Sudan: A Case Against the East African Community," in December 2023. In the piece, he criticizes the East African Community's decision to appoint Kiir as its chairperson, pointing out that the EAC failed to uphold its moral obligations and accuses the bloc of ignoring what he described as Salva Kiir's tyranny.

There remain significant political differences between the states. Museveni's success in obtaining his third-term amendment raised doubts in the other countries.[77] The single-party dominance in the Tanzanian and Ugandan parliaments is unattractive to Kenyans, while Kenya's ethnic-politics remains absent in Tanzania.[77] Rwanda has a distinctive political culture with a political elite committed to building a developmental state.[77] It has been argued, however, that the commonalities go far deeper. Many of the national elites old enough to remember the former EAC often share memories and a sharp sense of loss at its eventual dissolution.[77] More cynically, others have argued that this historical ambition provides politicians with the ability to present themselves as statesmen and representatives of a greater regional interest.[77] Furthermore, EAC institutions bring significant new powers to dispose and depose to those who serve in them.[77]

Informal polls in 2007 indicated that most Tanzanians (80 percent) had an unfavourable view of the East African Federation.[79] Tanzania has more land than the other founding EAC nations combined, and some Tanzanians feared landgrabs by the current residents of the other EAC member nations.[80][81][82]

Other problems involve states being reluctant to relinquish involvement in other regional groups, e.g., Tanzania's withdrawal from COMESA but staying within the SADC bloc for the Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations with the European Union.[77] Many Tanzanians are also concerned because creating a common market means removing obstacles to the free movement of labour and capital.[77] Free movement of labour may be perceived as highly desirable in Uganda and Kenya, and have important developmental benefits in Tanzania; however, in Tanzania there is widespread resistance to the idea of ceding land rights to foreigners, including citizens of Kenya and Uganda.[77]

A "Coalition of the Willing", made up of Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, began a number of initiatives amongst themselves including joint railway and oil pipeline projects, a joint tourist visa, and a defence and security pact, to get around reluctance from other members.[76]: 13.14  However, even within this grouping, progress on projects has been delayed. Bilateral friction between members, a lack of enthusiasm, and political instability have been the primary reasons behind the delaying and weakening of integration efforts.[76]: 13.15  New members are expected to adjust their laws to meet EAC requirements following their accession, but this is impeded by domestic politics. South Sudan, the first member outside of the original five, remains out of step with Common Market laws.[83]


East African Court of Justice[edit]

The East African Court of Justice is the judicial arm of the community.

East African Legislative Assembly[edit]

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is the legislative arm of the community. The EALA has 27 members who are all elected by the National Assemblies or Parliaments of the member states of the community. The EALA has oversight functions on all matters that fall within the community's work and its functions include debating and approving the budget of the community, discussing all matters pertaining to the community and making recommendations to the council as it may deem necessary for the implementation of the treaty, liaising with National Assemblies or Parliaments on matters pertaining to the community and establishing committees for such purposes as it deems necessary. Since being inaugurated in 2001, the EALA has had several sittings as a plenum in Arusha, Kampala, and Nairobi.

The Speaker of the Assembly is Dan Kidega from Uganda who replaced Margaret Zziwa also from Uganda, after being impeached; she had succeeded Abdirahin Haithar H. Abdi from Kenya. The assembly has been credited with crucial bills, particularly those regarding regional and international trade, including EAC's stand on issues such as the World Trade Organization and transport on Lake Victoria.[84]


Importance of the customs union[edit]

The key aspects of the customs union include:[77]

  1. a Common External Tariff (CET) on imports from third countries;
  2. duty-free trade between the member states; and
  3. common customs procedures.

Different rates are applied for raw materials (0%), intermediate products (10%) and finished goods (25%), the latter percentage is fixed as the maximum.[77] This represents a significance decrease from what was previously the maximum in Kenya (35%), Tanzania (40%) and Uganda (15%).[77] However, this customs union is not yet fully implemented, because there is a significant list of exclusions to the Common External Tariff and tariff-free movement of goods and services.[77] Technical work is also needed to harmonise and modernise the customs procedures in the EAC's major ports of entry.[77]

The expected revenue benefits are understood to be minimal by many analysts, based on comparative-static simulation exercises demonstrating the one-off impacts of the immediate introduction of the CU's full tariff package.[77] The findings suggest an increase in intraregional trade that is largely the result of trade diversion, not trade creation, with some aggregate welfare benefits in Kenya and Tanzania but welfare losses in Uganda.[77] From a trade-integration perspective, the EAC may not be the best chosen unit, because the current trade between the three countries is small compared to their external trade, and the EAC's 105 million citizens do not represent a large market in global terms, given the very low average incomes.[77]

Emerging business trends[edit]

Business leaders are far more positive than economists about the benefits of EAC integration, its customs union as a step in the process, as well as the wider integration under COMESA.[77] The larger economic players perceive long-term benefits in a progressively expanding regional market.[77] Patterns of regional development are already emerging, including:[77]

  • Kenyan firms have successfully aligned to the lower protection afforded by the EAC CET and fears that firms would not adjust to a 25% maximum CET, or would relocate to Tanzania or Uganda have not been realised.
  • An intraregional division of labour is developing, which results in basic import-processing relocating to the coast to supply the hinterland. The final stages of import-processing (especially those bulky finished goods that involve high transportation costs) and natural-resource based activities are moving up-country and up-region, either within value chains of large companies or different segments located by firms in different countries.
  • Trade in goods and services has already increased as service provision to Kenyans and Tanzanians is already important for Uganda (in education and in health). Kenya exports financial services, for example via the Kenya Commercial Bank and purchase and upgrading of local operators in Tanzania, Uganda and Sudan. Uganda hopes integration will help support its tourism potential through integration with established regional circuits.
  • There are signs of a business culture oriented to making profits through economies of scale and not on protectionism.

Trade negotiations[edit]

The EAC negotiates with trade partners on behalf of all member countries. Negotiations in 2014 for an EU-EAC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) ran into difficulties with the January 2014 negotiating session failing to conclude the negotiations, which were scheduled to be completed before 1 October 2014. This caused tensions between Kenya and other countries as Kenya, which is not a Least Developed Country, stood to lose most from the failure to reach agreement.[85] Discussions are also under way between the EAC and the USA on the launch of Trade and Investment Partnership (TIP) negotiations.[86]

Poverty reduction[edit]

EAC that have economies have large informal sectors, unintegrated with the formal economy and large business.[77] The concerns of large-scale manufacturing and agro-processing concerns are not broadly shared by the bulk of available labour.[77] Research suggest the promised investments on the conditions of life of the region's overwhelmingly rural poor will be slight, with the significant exception of agro-industrial firms with out-grower schemes or that otherwise contribute to the co-ordination of smallholder production and trade.[77]

It is informal trade across borders that is most often important to rural livelihoods and a customs union is unlikely to significantly impact the barriers that this faces and taxes are still being fixed separately by countries.[77] However, the introduction of one-stop border posts being introduced and the reduction in tariff barriers are coming down progressively.[77]

The establishment of a common market will create both winners (numerous food producers and consumers on both sides of all borders) and losers (smugglers and the customs, police and local government officers who currently benefit from bribery at and around the borders) in the border areas.[77] More substantial impact could be attained by a new generation of investments in world-market production based on the region's comparative advantages in natural resources (especially mining and agriculture) and the new tariff structure creates marginally better conditions for world-market exporters, by cheapening inputs and by reducing upward pressures on the exchange rate.[77]

Common market[edit]

EAC heads in 2009. From left to right: Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Mwai Kibaki (Kenya), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania), Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi).

On 1 July 2010, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki launched the East African Common Market Protocol, an expansion of the bloc's existing customs union that entered into effect in 2005.[87] The protocol will leads the free movement of labour, capital, goods and services within the EAC.[87] Member states will have to change their national laws to allow the full implementation of some aspects of the Common Market such as immigration and customs.[8] This legislation may take up to five years for each of the countries to enact fully but official recognition of the common market took place on 1 July.[88] Kenya expects that its citizens will begin to enjoy freedom of movement in the EAC within two months.[89] Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi have already agreed to waive work permit fees for EAC citizens.[89] The Common Market is seen as a step towards the implementation of a common currency by 2024 and full political federation afterwards.[7] Kenyan businesses complain that the benefits of the Common Market only exist on paper by 2011, and that all the work remains to be done. Arbitrary rules and delays continue to make trade between Kenya and Tanzania expensive and difficult.[90]

The free movement of people in the EAC is set to be improved with the introduction of "third generation" ID cards. These cards will identify the holder as a dual citizen of their home country and of "East Africa".[91] Third generation cards are already in use in Rwanda with Kenya set to introduce them in July 2010 and the other countries following afterwards.[92] Mutual recognition and accreditation of higher education institutions is also being worked towards as is the harmonisation of social security benefits across the EAC.[92]

The full adoption of the common market has been undermined by continued protectionism between member states, with decisions driven by political pressures on national leaders slowing down the implementation of commitments to integration, even within founding members. Bilateral political tensions have led to border controls in some periods, further undermining the shared labour market. Corruption has led to some integration initiatives being underfunded.[93]


The new treaty was proposed with plans drawn up in 2004 to introduce a monetary union with a common currency, the East African shilling, some time between 2012 and 2015. There were also plans for a political union, the East African Federation, with a common President (initially on a rotation basis) and a common parliament by 2010. However, some experts, like those based in the public think tank Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), noted that the plans were too ambitious to be met by 2010 because a number of political, social and economic challenges are yet to be addressed. The proposal was the subject of National Consultative discussions, and a final decision was to be taken by the EAC Heads of State in mid-2007.[94] In 2013, a protocol was signed outlining their plans for launching a monetary union within 10 years.[9]

In September 2018, a committee was formed to begin the process of drafting a regional constitution.[10]

In January 2023, the East African Community plans to issue a single currency within the next four years. The Council of Ministers of the organization must decide on the location of the East African Monetary Institute and the establishment of a roadmap for the issuance of the single currency.[95]

Single tourist visa[edit]

It had been hoped that an East African Single Tourist Visa may have been ready for November 2006, if it was approved by the relevant sectoral authorities under the EAC's integration programme. Had it been approved, the visa would have been valid for all three current member states of the EAC (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda). Under the proposal for the visa, any new EAC single visa could be issued by any member state's embassy. The visa proposal followed an appeal by the tourist boards of the partner states for a common visa to accelerate promotion of the region as a single tourist destination and the EAC Secretariat wanted it approved before November's World Travel Fair (or World Travel Market) in London.[96] When approved by the EAC's council of ministers, tourists could apply for one country's entry visa which would then be applicable in all regional member states as a single entry requirement initiative.[97]

A single East African Tourist Visa for the EAC countries of Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda has been available since 2014.[98]


As of March 2022, the combined population of all seven EAC member states was 312,362,653. The EAC would have the fourth largest population in the world, if considered a single entity.

Largest population centres of the East African Community
According to the most recent Censuses and Estimates[t 1][t 2][t 3][t 4]
Rank City name State Pop. Rank City name State Pop.


Dar es Salaam

1 Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo 15,628,000 11 Mwanza Tanzania 1,245,000


2 Dar es Salaam Tanzania 7,405,000 12 Kigali Rwanda 1,208,000
3 Nairobi Kenya 5,119,000 13 Bukavu Democratic Republic of the Congo 1,190,000
4 Kampala Uganda 3,652,000 14 Bujumbura Burundi 1,139,000
5 Mbuji-Mayi Democratic Republic of the Congo 2,765,000 15 Tshikapa Democratic Republic of the Congo 1,024,000
6 Lubumbashi Democratic Republic of the Congo 2,695,000 16 Bunia Democratic Republic of the Congo 768,000
7 Mogadishu Somalia 2,610,000 17 Zanzibar Tanzania 766,000
8 Kananga Democratic Republic of the Congo 1,593,000 18 Goma Democratic Republic of the Congo 707,000
9 Mombassa Kenya 1,389,000 19 Uvira Democratic Republic of the Congo 657,000
10 Kisangani Democratic Republic of the Congo 1,366,000 20 Mbeya Tanzania 620,000
  1. ^ "Africa: Population Statistics in Maps and Charts for Cities, Agglomerations and Administrative Divisions of all Countries in Africa". citypopulation.de.
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  4. ^ "Africa Population (2022)". populationstat.com.

The EAC contains 15 cities with populations of over one million (half of which are in Democratic Republic of the Congo alone), the largest being Kinshasa. Kampala is the largest urban centre located on Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake in the world and Mwanza coming in second and Kisumu third.

The East African Community's current urban population stands at about 20%.


Religions in the EAC

  Christianity (76.04%)
  Islam (14.06%)
  Other (Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.) (4.6%)
  No religion/Unspecified (1.6%)


Kiswahili, English and French are designated as the official languages of the EAC, with Swahili designated for development as the lingua franca of the community.[1] Within the EAC, there are three countries whose official language is French: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. Numerous local languages are also spoken: for example, there are 56 local languages spoken in Uganda,[99] 125 in Tanzania, 72 in South Sudan and 67 local languages in Kenya. Kinyarwanda is spoken in Rwanda and Uganda.[100] There are over 200 local languages spoken in the DRC. Lingala is widely spoken in the western Democratic Republic of Congo, with about 15 million speakers and Kiswahili with 23 million speakers across the country.[101]

East African passport[edit]

Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the 2006 EAC summit. Rwanda joined the EAC on 1 July 2007.

The East African passport was launched on 1 April 1999.[102] The East African passport has been introduced as a travel document to ease border crossing for EAC residents.[103][104] It is valid for travel within the EAC countries only and will entitle the holder to a multi-entry stay of renewable six months' validity in any of the countries.[103] The passport is issued in three of the EAC member states (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania). The passports are available at the headquarters of the respective Immigration Departments in Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam. Only East African nationals may apply to be issued with the passports.[103][104] The passport costs US$10 or the equivalent in EAC currencies.[104] Processing of applications for the passports will normally take two to three weeks. Although the passport is only valid within the EAC, modalities of internationalising the East African passport were being discussed with the aim towards having a common travel document for EAC residents by 2006.[103]

Other measures meant to ease border crossing for East African Community residents include the issuance of interstate passes (which commenced on 1 July 2003), a single immigration Departure/Entry card (adopted by all three member states), the finalisation of harmonised procedures of work permits and the classification process, and the compilation of studies on the Harmonization of Labour Laws and Employment Policies (now in its final stages).[103]



Period Chairman
2012–2013 Uganda Yoweri Museveni
2013–2015 Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta
2015–2017 Tanzania John Magufuli
2017–2019 Uganda Yoweri Museveni
2019–2021 Rwanda Paul Kagame
2021–2022 Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta
2022–2023 Burundi Évariste Ndayishimiye
2023–present South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit


Period Secretary-General
2000–2001 Kenya Francis Muthaura
2001–2006 Uganda Amanya Mushega
2006–2011 Tanzania Juma Mwapachu
2011–2016 Rwanda Richard Sezibera
2016–2021 Burundi Libérat Mfumukeko
2021–present Kenya Peter Mathuki

Comparison with other regional blocs[edit]

African Economic Community
Pillar regional
blocs (REC)
Population GDP (PPP) ($US) Member
(millions) (per capita)
EAC 4,810,363 312,362,653 833,622 3,286 8
ECOWAS/CEDEAO 5,112,903 349,154,000 1,322,452 3,788 15
IGAD 5,233,604 294,197,387 225,049 1,197 7
AMU/UMA a 6,046,441 106,919,526 1,299,173 12,628 5
ECCAS/CEEAC 6,667,421 218,261,591 175,928 1,451 11
SADC 9,882,959 394,845,175 737,392 3,152 15
COMESA 12,873,957 406,102,471 735,599 1,811 20
CEN-SAD a 14,680,111 29
Total AEC 29,910,442 853,520,010 2,053,706 2,406 54
Other regional
Population GDP (PPP) ($US) Member
(millions) (per capita)
WAMZ 1 1,602,991 264,456,910 1,551,516 5,867 6
SACU 1 2,693,418 51,055,878 541,433 10,605 5
CEMAC 2 3,020,142 34,970,529 85,136 2,435 6
UEMOA 1 3,505,375 80,865,222 101,640 1,257 8
UMA 2 a 5,782,140 84,185,073 491,276 5,836 5
GAFTA 3 a 5,876,960 1,662,596 6,355 3,822 5
During 2004. Sources: The World Factbook 2005, IMF WEO Database.
  Smallest value among the blocs compared.
  Largest value among the blocs compared.
1: Economic bloc inside a pillar REC.
2: Proposed for pillar REC, but objecting participation.
3: Non-African members of GAFTA are excluded from figures.
a: The area 446,550 km2 used for Morocco excludes all disputed territories, while 710,850 km2 would include the Moroccan-claimed and partially-controlled parts of Western Sahara (claimed as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic by the Polisario Front). Morocco also claims Ceuta and Melilla, making up about 22.8 km2 (8.8 sq mi) more claimed territory.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]