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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tanzania diminishes chances of regional integration

On 20/08/2007, after the 6th ordinary session of the EAC Heads of State, I waited with bated breath for the announcement of a fully integrated East African Economic Union, a union redeemed from the fear and suspicion that previosuly led to breakup.
To my dismay, the same structural failings and issues that necessitated the first collapse still exist. During the first collapse it was easy to blame ideological differences between Tanzania and the rest of the East African Community since the latter was socialist while the former shared capitalistic ideologies. This aside, the real reasons as time came to reveal was the fear that Kenya dominated the rest of the community.

Following the collapse of the EAC and prior to the recent haphazard re-integration, arose the Common Markets for East and Southern Africa (COMESA ) the only remaining workable regional organisation that Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania had in common. This was until Tanzania opted out again to join South African Development Cooperation (SADC) , allying itself to what is clearly a grouping for Southern African countries.

This move, perhaps inoccuous has had varied ramifications. Within the past three years projects that would span the whole of East Africa have been marred with confusion due to differences between the states. For example Kenya had to opt out of Eassy project (East Africa Sub Marine System) a cables project that would have considerably lowered the cost of fibre communication in the region. Word was that South Africa was employing underhand tactics as far as ownership of the cables project was concerned, which developments caused Kenya to initiate a parallel project; TEAMS (The East Africa Marine System) to replace Eassy. As a member of SADC, Tanzania occupies an unenviable position in this regard, especially as although she is seen as siding with South Africa in SADC, she has not the clout that would make a difference in the southern group at all.

The meeting lasted several hours, and after what must have been intense haggling, the leaders emerged to announce failure to secure a smooth predictable transition to regional integration. However, of all the countries; Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, it is Tanzania that had the greatest objections to the speedy integration of the region. One major extenuation given was that Kenya would dominate the resultant economy. As a face-saving gesture, Tanzania agreed ,though apprehensively, to a Common Market, Union and currency by the year 2012. During this meeting, the rest of the East African states were categorical that they wanted a more expeditious integration of the different economies while Tanzania opted for a step-wise approach. This is understandable and has indeed been a constant refrain of many East Africans. Still many wonder, given her doubts ,is it Tanzania or is the thought of a formidable East African Region unworkable?

When Tanzania first ditched COMESA for SADC it gave what were seen as valid reasons as to why it made the move. Fast tracking to the present time and the very same country still has issues with the East African Community with the majority of its concerns relating to economic and political competition(again).

Granted, Kenya still dominates the region's economy and has been able to maintain this even in the absence of East African Federation. But it is not true to say that Kenya would benefit the most from the union. The uniform trade platform that would have been created to replace the current regime, would have boosted trade and promoted business and new jobs across the region.

Like in any union, there are teething problems and the peculiar concerns of individual members to address. Still, if as is becoming clear 4 out of 5 would be members of an East Africa federation are willing to go ahead with an economic union, why be precluded by Tanzania whose priorities are clearly obscured?


Kenyanomics said...

East Africans are only asking for free movement of goods and persons within the region. Not another bureaucracy in Arusha. We have enough bureaucracies in Nairobi, Dar, Kigali, Bujumbura and Kampala. Can't they open borders and eliminate other barriers without forming a confederation?

This is the way i see it: A person from Mbeya (Southern Tanzania) wants to freely exchange commodities with fellow East Africans in Mandera (Northern-Eastern Kenya) and Arua in North-Western Uganda. It takes current governments to make that happen, not a new parliament in Arusha.

We have a lot to learn from the possible integration of Hong Kong and Shenzhen metropolitans. While East Africans are busy creating bureaucracies in the name of integration, Asians are busy opening immigration gates and improving infrastructure that links them. Which one makes more sense? (see my EAC post)

branded said...

That was a very valid point, I aslo noticed that apart from playing second fiddle to South frica, TZ thinks that by playing the dirty tricks of delay its winning, may be it is bt the region is loosing big time. I support your Idea of opening up immigration gates and improving infrastructure, it definately makes more sense. thanks for stopping by. I am reading you EAC post.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again! Another article that attempts to create a smokescreen by laying all the blame on the sholders of Tanzania when it comes to EAC intergration.

The issue of belonging to multiple regional groupings is not uniquely Tanzanian. How come you never raised the conundrum that Kenya will face with the anticipated COMESA Custom Union while its already a member of EAC Custom Union?

Its quite absurd to imply Tanzania doesn't belong in Southern Africa (hence not a natural member of SADC) while at the same time urging it to join COMESA, a grouping with southern African countries further south of Tanzania like Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe! The next thing you will claim will probably be that Swaziland belongs in COMESA more than it does in SADC!

Tanzania happens to have strong links with southern Africa, as much as it has with Eastern Africa. To ask her to abandon its long standing relationships in favor of EAC only is just idiotic to say the least. We want to do business with as much neighbours as possible and South Africa has been a positive economic force in Tanzania, challenging the dominance of Kenya in the country. It appears that these constant concerns about Tanzania belonging in SADC are a manifestation of Kenya's nervousness towards South Africa coming to compete in its backyard through Tanzania.

Tanzanians will not be bulldozzed by pundits like yourself. The people of Tanzania have a right to know precisely how they will benefit from EAC Federation and its economic integration. The issues of job loss, land grabbing, political stability etc are very relevant to them. They have refused fast-tracking the Federation because the idea is unrealistic (in terms of implementing it within 5 years) but not because they are not in favor of the Federation. Most Tanzanians see it as something achiaveble by year 2020.

The debate we need is not why Tanzanians are ambivalent about EAC, but what can be done to address their concerns. Economic and targeted programs should be suggested to help countries like Tanzania whose economy will be negatively impacted, at least in the short-term. Such things will help to calm the jitters towards a noble idea of economic and political integration.

New York, NY.

branded said...

Here we go again, first of all I prefer to stick to issues than name calling just because we view issues differently. Absurd or not, such posts are intended to open up the issue for debate to understand the issues at hand.
In as much as you support TZ's stand I would like to bring to your attention several issues that clearly displays TZ in bad light.

1. The fact that ALL the countries of East Africa (except TZ) belong to COMESA and EAC only strengthens trade in the region.
2. The countries are more likely to speak with one voice when it comes to issues that affect the region.
3. When one member (TZ) has one foot in East AFrica while the other in South Africa it raises questions.
4. No one said that TZ should ditch SADC to join COMESA, what I said is that by "having strong ties with SADC" TZ is unlikely to represent the interests of the EAC region hence its stand on EAC issues that is always opposite the rest of the members.
5. As you clearly said it, we need to address TZ concerns but the problem is TZ never brings to the table any of its issues. It just hides behind BIG words like competition from Kenya making it much harder to address its problems.
6. Yes Kenya may be afraid of South Africa threatening its dominance in the region's economy but can the same be said of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda?
7. An Undecided country is unstable in all its ways. Keep your eyes open.

Anyway thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...


I'm glad to be here. First, let me apologise for any distress that I may have caused you by certain choices of my words. It just shows the level of frustration people like myself feel whenever we read an article that carelessly misrepresents the facts with a pretext of "open[ing] up the issue for debate". It just makes it hard to have a constructive debate, that indeed we should all have, if we don't address the untruths from the offset.

Case in point, there was an article last week in Kenya Broadcasting Corp (KBC) website(which if I'm not mistaken, is still a Govt owned media institution), twisting the results of the poll in TZ asking wether we should fast-track EAC or not. KBC reported that the overwhealing results against such a move meant "Tanzanians say no to EA federation". It went further claiming that Tanzanians "have rejected the plan for the East African political federation" while we all know that the referendum on this subject is still in the offing. Perhaps you can help me understand the motives a Govt institution like KBC have in publishing such a misleading article?


Fact is, TZ has shown tremendous commitment to EAC, from hosting the HQ in Arusha, to building institutions like EAC Judiciary and Legislature, to negotiating and implementing the Custom Union despite the fact that its also a SADC member. Your claim that TZ's membership in SADC makes her "stand on EAC issues..always opposite the rest of the [EAC] members" are therefore absolutely baseless.

Asking TZ not to have "strong ties" with southern Africa is similar to asking Europe not to have strong ties with America! TZ is a founding member of SADC, and of SADCC, its predecessor. Our history, our engagement and our attachment to southern Africa since the days of Frontline States and prior to that cannot be lightly severed.

Therefore, there is nothing sinister that "raises questions" about TZ's friendship with southern Africa - anybody who knows her history will appreciate it. If you can make an argument like that, then I could equally claim that Kenya's one foot in COMESA and another in EAC "raises questions" in the eyes of non-EAC members of COMESA, such as Zambia, Sudan or Eqypt because it shows Kenya's not commitment to COMESA! In that case, Kenya could equally be described as "an undecided country" that "is unstable in all its ways".

What is universally recognized is that as SADC moves towards becoming a trade bloc with custom union, then a common market etc (as opposed to a grouping for coordinating common economic projects); and as COMESA moves from a free-trade area to custom Union etc, countries like TZ - and so many others including Kenya and Uganda, will have to make the tough decision on how they can continue membership in increasingly conflicting organizations.

I'm saying this because one of the biggest misconception that individulss like yourself perpetuate is that somehow it will be hunky dory if and when all EAC members belonged in COMESA! It is as if no conflict will emerge out of EAC custom union with those of a future COMESA custom union.

Competition from Kenya isn't "mere BIG words". It does pose serious threat to the future of manufacturing in TZ. And its not true that these concerns have never been brought to the table by TZ. Case in point, the successful agreement in delaying implementing certain taxes within the EAC custom union to give manufactures in TZ some time to adjust to the new trade environment.

As we progress into common market, single currency and a political federation, these concerns are clearly being accelerated and reflected in the results of the fast-tracking poll in TZ. There is too much of selling of the positives of intergration and little in terms of addressing the adverse effects of it. For instance, TZ could well be forced with the reality of ceading the dominance of manufacturing to Kenya but that will only be okay of she is able to identify and begin to focus right now in alternative sectors that will bring them competitive advantage in the future, for example, in service economy. Hence, we will require economic programs to subsdize the manufacturing that will decline and to build up the service economy. The people in TZ are pressuring their Govt for answers to such issues, and are observing the gradual benefits that come with intergration before they can make a judgment that full EAC intergration will truly be benefitial to their daily livelihoods, not simply empty promises. The aim is not to ignore globalization but to ensure it really works for them.

New York, NY

MbongoMTZ said...

Well said Chiume!

Anonymous said...

Lets face ,We Tanzania have all reasons to be sceptical about this EAC.
The previous one was onesided one and economically benefited much our brothers in north East.
In Dar its no supprise who are REALLY pushing for this this time around!
What we intend to do is to let our economy grow naturally and when the time is right we will join it if we have to.
Put it this way, we are spoit of options at this point in time no matter what you all say.
Mr Dar

branded said...

Fine, Apology accepted. point well taken infact I have turned your comment into a post to let everyone easily access(you can read it on the main page).

I want you to understand one thing, your thoughts, mine or those of any other are just as OK. When I respond to you I do not mean that you are wong in your arguments neither is it the other way round.
The fact that you raised some issues about Kenya(ns) especially the State media in muddling the name of TZ clearly shows how deep this issue is & leads me to ask How come only you see things that way?
As ignorant as this may sound, the world is fed by the media in whatever form books included. You cant tell me that some if not all that you have mentioned you didnt get through the media neither can I deny that on my part. One point is so clear, we access different forms of media and pass judgement based on how we understand whatever we read or hear. I know it sounds twisted but thats how things are. Have you read what Mr. Dar has to say...that you are spoilt of options at this time no matter what is said?

MbongoMTZ - Thanks for stopping by.

Mr. Dar - Very well put," We Tanzanians have all reasons to be sceptical about this EAC.we are spoit of options at this point in time no matter what you all say" We understand. Capitalism and Socialism have different meanings.

Anonymous said...

I think as Tanzanians we have valid points to be very cautious for this much touted federation. The point is, we are all East Africans aspiring for the betterment of our people and if it takes political federation to achieve this, we are certainly prepared to work on it. But at our own terms!

And all you should know that TZ have a union with Zanzibar archepelego of less than a Million people, but it has been enough lesson for us on how we approach the whole issue of federation thing!

The problem we are having with our counterparts is that while we spent much of our blood and precious resources liberating our Southern Africa brothers our brethren in Kenya and else where had their priorities somehwere else and its from such understanding that as Tanzanians we can not easily ditch our S African brothers because we want fast tracked federation! When it mattered most we knew who was our really friend.

Kenyans and Ugandans you still have much unresolved tribal squabbles and Iam sure with the current situation in the EAC Tanzanians cant fit. Well most we pretend not to know this, but the truth is tribalism is still alive and kicking, making Tanzanians apprehensive of any move.

I agree, Tanzanians need to advance their concern, its not enough to say..oohhh competition from Kenya or else...No, we have to know that without competetion there is nothing which can be done. But, Iam one of those who are against this fast tracking business. Again, its unfair to say that TZ plays second fiddle to SA, yes, they are economic powerhouse, but as history may reveal our friendship with SA countries transcends all this areguments being adressed by our colleagues.

Federation will be a reality if we ALL partners have the same motive for this issue. Not LIKE NOW WHEN SOME OF US are just interested to get what they want and then abandon the whole enterprise.

Anonymous said...

I waited with bated breath for the announcement of a fully integrated East African Economic Union.

This words are strong and powerful words: Economy and intergration

Economy: The system of trade and industry by which the wealth of a country is made and used (Cambridge advance learners dic)

Integration: To combine 2 or more things in orger to become more effective.
(Cambridge advance learners dic)

I guess by now most of you are wonderring why the hell am i defining this 2 words. Yes they are important as it seems that Tz shall not and will not be led into a federation that will not be of benefit to it interms of:

Is Tz going to become more effective in its system of trade and industry so as to ultimatly create wealth and use it effectively for its own benefit.

I the light of the changes in Tz in the past 20yrs i think not. I would prefer Tz to put more efforts in creating a competitive environment so as to compete with all east africans fair and square before regional integration is acheived. Tz families need to create wealth from the current changes in their economy so as to compete with the Kamau`s of kenya of the Niyoshaka`s of Burundi or the Kimera`s of Uganda.

And by the way that is why this EAC is a PEOPLE CENTRED INTERGRATION. So the views of the people are of uttermost importance and not the the pace of the integration. Respect of the Tanzanian views is of uttermost importance in the EAC and i have respected the EAC leaders showing good governance by respecting this (50 points from me).

Let us debate in view os a people centred regional grouping other that the pace. I would like my Grandmother in Tukuyu to be able to compete with farmers from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. And that is why today i am proud to be an East African.

branded said...

Hi, Thanks fro stopping by. Anyway, I liked your approach as to why you think TZ prefers Southern Africa than the Eastern African Brother due to several things that you've clearly pointed out. Tribalism, and "abandonment" i.e No one in East Africa was there when TZ "really" wanted such kind of a relationship.
But I fear that what you pointed out is clearly the biggest problem of Economic Intrgration in East Africa. The rest of the countries that were "away" occupied with other priorities when they should have been forging ties have now come back and they feel that iit is TZ which is the problem.
As a region, KEnya, Uganda Rwanda and Burundi feel that TZ is playing durty tricks by sneaking Southern African Business politics into the region through the back door.
Competition as you correctly put it is healthy especially when you are on the winning team. Ofcourse East Africa is competing with Southern Africa states fro economic supremacy leading us to question TZ's intentions for snubbing wat we think could take East Africa to the next level.

Anonymous said...


Off the cuff, let me respond to your immediate quote:

" …TZ is playing durty tricks by sneaking Southern African Business politics into the region through the back door. Competition as you correctly put it is healthy especially when you are on the winning team. Ofcourse East Africa is competing with Southern Africa states fro economic supremacy leading us to question TZ's intentions for snubbing wat we think could take East Africa to the next level..."

The above quote is quite revealing on how you view competition in integrated regions.
You seem to view EA and Southern Africa more as antagonists rather than partners in
business and in development - with TZ acting almost as an accomplice in efforts to
undermine EA’s “economic supremacy”. These are pretty strong accusations considering
the reality that TZ is actually caught between a rock and a hard place i.e Kenya and South
Africa, both increasingly gaining control of major areas of her economy away from

Needless to say, if you are one of those filed the anxiety over South Africa’s dominance,
you should equally empathize with majority of Tanzanians who feel equally the same
over Kenya’s and South Africa’s economic dominance. That is the jest of their psyche.
No wonder majority are preferring a gradual approach to EA integration that will ensure
background institutions are in place, that opportunities are truly made available, that their
concerns are acknowledged and addressed (because at the moment, their concerns
don’t seem to be much acknowledged by folks like yourself, they are just being
brushed aside or ridiculed). They feel are too many unknowns at this point to say, “oh
yeah, lets just have a federation within 5 years and see how it goes”!

Therefore, much as you accuse Tanzania of looking at Kenya as a threat not an opportunity, I think you also evaluate southern Africa the same way, as an opportunity despite her threats. To use words like “economic supremacy” shows your desire for some protectionist measures in favor of EA business community against SA. That goes directly against the basic principles of competition and free market integration you want to espouse. It is actually good for competition to have South Africa in the EA region to counterbalance Kenya. Tanzania should therefore be commended for being a link to the southern market, not vilified for it!

All that said, the truth is, a regular consumer doesn’t care much about the politics of “economic supremacy” – and they don’t care much about the origin of the products - they just want quality products and services at the right price, period. If, for instance, Kenya Airways can’t provide the service worth their money, SAA or Ghana Airways should always be available to fill the void. Therefore, lets not appear to speak too much on behalf of Kenyan business or Tanzanian business etc. We should really focus on the interests of East Africans instead. The business lobbies will fight it out to the end, as they should because they do have a role to play (as the Kenyan lobby seem to be doing at the moment, using Kenyan media sources to shape opinions of Kenyans and recruiting their support). Governments, on the other hand, should ensure a level playing field before jumping into major decisions by creating economic programs to address areas that will be negatively impacted, creating new economic sectors, ensuring continued stability etc

Finally, you had asked me the following:

“The fact that you raised some issues about Kenya(ns) especially the State media in muddling the name of TZ clearly shows how deep this issue is & leads me to ask How come only you see things that way?”

Clearly, I’m not the only one seeing things this way. I’m probably one of the few who was fed up enough to bother responding to such articles. Don’t take silence of others as being lack of opinions. You only need to go out, look and listen, especially to credible sources.

Like I said previously, I personally think the real problem with such concerted and accelerated attacks on TZ’s position is that they analyze this issue solely from the eyes of business people, and from one country’s interest against the other, not of citizens of East Africans as a whole. I have no tangible evidence to substantiate whether the Kenyan media is in the pockets of certain business people, but by mere observation of this pattern it just makes me wonder for whose benefit all this bashing on TZ is for because it certainly doesn’t help the cause of integration, and doesn’t seem to care about TZ economic interests.

N. Chiume

Anonymous said...

Indeed, as Chiume says, we should debate EAC regional integration from the perspective of the wananchi and not the business community. TZ stands to loose in the fast tracking of the EA federation. I would like my fellow EAs to be rest assured that Tanzanians are very much interested in the federation, but the causes for forbia of the federation are obvious! But what is worse still is the lack of seriousness among TZ politicians to address the issues seen as a threat by the wananchi!

Anonymous said...

Its suprising tom see that now Kenyans and Ugandans want the federation badly, yet when Tanzania was ready for this kind of grand plan no body seemed to care. We tried our best, but we were branded all kinds of names and we know the price we paid for our insinstency on the federation. So what makes Tanzanians believe these people at this point in time? have they changed? I have strong reservations.

Once beaten...twice shy. We have been there and we dont want in anyway to repeat the mistakes which we took long to heal! Lets go kidogo kidogo. Because naturally I dont trust our neighbours. Not that the idea is bad, but we really want somethig which will outlive short term gains.

We want the federation but at our own terms and conditions!

branded said...

Keeping in mind you earlier suggestion that we should discuss EAC regional integration from the perspective of the wananchi and not the business community: I can say with confidence that the biggest issue that is facing EA region is business not the people. Why else would any country associate with others if not from the benefit they will gain, Material or otherwise. TZ is strongly "attached" to SA becase of the economic gains not its people. East Africans want to come together because of business so taking your direction will amount to running away from the problem. If we can discuss how business will improve the region fine but not people. As people we are already friends infact East Africans have relatives in different parts of the region.

Yes I view SA as competition in the region - with TZ acting almost as an accomplice in efforts to
undermine EA’s “economic supremacy”. Of course they are pretty strong accusations.

I dont support your argument that TZ is caught between a rock and a hard place i.e Kenya and South because its a matter of choice. My biggest problem with TZ is the fact that it never comes out clean as regards this matter and wastes considerable amount of time with the rest of the region discussing economic intergration while its agendas are clearly directed elsewhere. If today TZ were to say the truth so that the rest of the region could proceed am sure that such discussions would end and it would be business as usual.

muungwana - you clearly pointed out that TZ has intergration phobia which we all know and that is why Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are giving you guys time to sort out the phobia before you come on board if still interested. But as I pointed out earlier Time waits for no one. By the look of things we risk waiting forever if at all the phobia is to fade away.

Anonymous 2
Like most comments that TZ are giving "Lets go kidogo kidogo" because of several reasons one of them being The issue of trust. just like you pointed that you dont trust your neibhours.
To be specific business is based on trust, if there is no trust, no business can exist.