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Massive Industrialisation in all East African countries will reduce the dominance of Kenya

By Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

Dear people,
The remake of the East African common market or community (EAC) is the utopian dream of all good globalists / global socialists like me. "Community" is sometimes called "space" for everybody to enjoy but the EAC goal is clear: a common economic space for all people in the region, a space in which trade, capital, and people flow freely. Therefore, the EAC's "integrated" strategy calls for a more open border for the movement of goods and people.

However, it is absurd to believe that suddenly we can create a global free trading area, a common market with, for example, Kenya, without massive changes leading to consequences that we cannot anticipate. For example, in common market countries college education is free but where is the room for this in our EAC recently reborn.

The East African Common market was started in 1917 at a pre-industrialisation stage in the region. It was also started to serve the British business interests and those of settlers in Kenya. Therefore, it came as no surprise that when joint services were established in 1945, Kenya benefited more than Uganda and Tanganyika.

Kenya benefitted in terms of :value added to their Gross Domestic Product(GDP); more employment benefits and revenue. For instance, according to the Common market & Economic Affairs Secretariat, in 1971, the East Africa Railways employed: 55% Kenyans, 33% Tanzanians and 12% Ugandans.Kenya also had a higher manufacturing base than either Uganda or Tanzania, a situation that has not changed up to day. Our system is second rate at best, we are far behind Kenya and Tanzania.

As a way of correcting this inequitable situation the British had created in the first place before independence, the colonial government established the Raisman Commission in 1960. According to Professor Brown, who was a member of the Raisman Commission, Kenya gained most from the common market, Uganda gained marginally and Tanzania broken even. Therefore, fiscal compensation to Tangayika and Uganda through the distribution tool was recommended, as one of the solutions to this inequity. Nevertheless, the fiscal compensation failed to solve this problem because the sums involved were far short of what would be needed to lead to developments of industries in the two marginalised countries(Uganda and Tanganyika), and the sums that would be considered adequate would be too great for Kenya to accept. I'm now wondering what exactly was negotiated recently by the architects of the East African community to solve this problem.

In addition, the experience of the European Union and the World Trade Organization makes it clear that a common market requires a court system, so it will be in order for us to have an East African court as soon as possible where cases of higher magnitude will be settled.

But just as in Europe, where such a Common Market led to a European political union, a hemispheric EAC will mean an eventual end of Uganda's separate identity and national sovereignty. Much as this is good, how do we integrate ideas such as: Buganda federalism or Uganda federalism instead of dreaming that they will just go away with the East African federation? This is something the architects of the E.A.C need to think about now instead of constantly brushing it under the carpet.

We also need a thought through East Africa Constitution that can, for instance, help with guiding the election process and rigging among member countries.Elections have been rigged in Uganda in 1980,2001 and 2006 and Uganda courts admitted this but nothing really changed.We probably need an East African court that can help such things. For instance, In USA, there was "free trade" or common market between the states from 1787 through 1865, and It was the whole point of the new Constitution.

Overall, the main way the East African common market will economically benefit all the member countries is if they all undertake large scale industrialisation projects, because with appropriate distribution, this can reduce substantially the inequality that mainly led to fall of the community in 1977.If we don't address all this economic imbalances, Kenya will continue to benefit more than others and the EAC Common market will dissolve in future and every country will return to its everyone against everyone else mentality.

Byebyo ebyange
Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba