Dr. Paul Katuse From Different Corners
East African Federation: BRICs New World Order missing Weft
The emergence of the BRICS nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa - as the world's foremost emerging economies has generated a substantial amount of collective influence to firmly anchor Chinese President Xi's Global Development Initiative.
This is made possible by trade and health programs and investments, increased food security, decreased poverty, and other financial mechanisms for economic development and growth. This is in addition to the expansion and interconnectedness of the digital economy, global industrialization, and sustainable development (Munene, 2022).
Given the similarities between the three countries, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania signed a treaty in July 2000 with the singular purpose of establishing a regional community. Burundi and Rwanda joined in 2007, with South Sudan joining in 2016 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo joining in June 2022. The impetus was the establishment of the East African Federation (EAF), a new sovereign state. The new federation is proposed to have its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, which is also proposed to act as the new state's capital. Approximately 300 million individuals would inhabit an area of 4,8 million square kilometers in the EAF. The federation is projected to be the largest nation-state in Africa in terms of land area and population, as well as the fourth most populous nation in the globe (Johnson, 2022). Prior to the signing of the treaty, the EAC founding states had completed all phases of economic integration except for the final two: formation of a preferential trading area, formation of a free trade area, formation of a customs union, the realization of a common market, the establishment of an economic union, formation of an economic and monetary union, and complete economic integration. According to the EAC monetary union protocol, the monetary union will be implemented in 2024 (East African Community, 2020). Federation could occur in the future.
Collectively, the BRICS countries are home to more than 3.2 billion people, or 42% of the global population, and account for 25% of the world's land area. Furthermore, they account for over 31% of the global GDP. Currently, the BRICS nations contribute 31.5 per cent of the world's gross domestic product, while the G7 nations contribute 30 per cent. According to economic forecasts (Devonshire-Ellis, 2023), the BRICS nations will account for more than fifty per cent of the global GDP by 2030. Several additional nations have applied for membership in BRICS, and the proposed expansion will unquestionably increase their global GDP contribution.
This discussion focuses on the East African Federation's position; will it provide the lacking weft in the BRICS configuration? Will the region's continued exclusion from global affairs strengthen the current global order? With the addition of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the East African region, which now spans the entire African continent from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean via the Great Lakes region and the Great Rift Valley, presents an abundance of opportunities. Some of these are as follows;
A Young Population
According to the Worldometer (2023), Sixty-five per cent of the population of the EAC's constituent countries is under the age of thirty and the total population is approximated at 500 million. As a result of the increase in the juvenile population, 75 per cent of the region's population will be under 25 years old by 2030. This demonstrates the region's vitality and potential in comparison to the global average of 42 per cent at the same ages. The significance of these opportunities for the region has been cited as a motivating factor for the union (Balongo, 2015).
Agriculture and natural resources
The region is widely recognized as one of the world's regions with abundant reserves of minerals in high demand by global manufacturing industries, such as cobalt, diamonds, platinum, and uranium, among others. The region contains 65 per cent of the world's cultivable land and 10 per cent of its renewable freshwater (Kaume, 2021), which are underutilized.
A perfect market for finished products
The region has a ready market for manufactured products due to its large youth population and rising birth rate, as well as its developing economic ecosystem, arable land, and stable leadership.
Harmonization of immigration and fluidity of international commerce
Multiple strategies have been devised by the federation to encourage cross-border investments. Among these is the seamless migration of the EAC Common External Tariff (CET), which simplifies the administration and management of the duty remission scheme, and other measures influencing the digitalization process of the Common External Tariff (CET). This digitalization process aims to expand private sector participation in international trade and access to trade information. The East African Pass is a complementary measure that eliminates the need for citizens to use passports. Multiple national constitutions in the region now allow dual citizenship. Establishment of the One-Stop Border Post (OSBP), which integrates into a single procedure the control functions of two border offices of neighbouring countries, thereby centralizing exit and entry border control functions. The Diaspora Desk of the EAC is another initiative that will facilitate communication between the federation and its diaspora community by facilitating networking opportunities for commerce and investment and by supporting diaspora-led development initiatives (East African Community, 2022).
Balongo, S. (2015). Afrobarometer Policy Paper No. 16 | January 2015. Accra: Afro Barometer.
Devonshire-Ellis, C. (2023). The BRICS Has Overtaken The G7 In Global GDP. Hong Kong: Silk Road Briefing.
East African Community. (2020, January 28). East African Community website. Retrieved from East African Community Website: https://www.eac.int/press-releases/1657-plans-to-put-in-place-east-african-single-currency-by-2024-well-underway
East African Community. (2022, May 21). Education, Science & Technology. Retrieved from East African Community website: https://www.eac.int/education
Johnson, M. (2022, August 24). THE EAST AFRICAN FEDERATION: A POTENTIAL NEW ECONOMIC SUPERPOWER LOOMS. Retrieved from International Banker website: https://internationalbanker.com/news/the-east-african-federation-a-potential-new-economic-superpower-looms/
Kaume, K. (2022). The East African Federation: An African Powerhouse? The East African Federation: An African Powerhouse?: African Association of Entrepreneurs.
Munene, D. C.-0.-2. (2022, June 23). It's time for more African representation in BRICS. Retrieved from China Daily Global website: https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202206/23/WS62b3c3f7a310fd2b29e6808a.html
Worldometer. (2023, Jun 30). Eastern Africa Population (Live). Retrieved from Worldometer website: https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/eastern-africa-population/