By Reuben Olita
Former Prime Minister and Azimio La Umoja Presidential candidate, the Rt Hon Raila Odinga has said the implementation of the East African Federation (EAF) will boost the economy of seven states of the East African Community.
Speaking in Busia, Raila said an EAF which is a single federated sovereign state will remove all Non Tariff Barriers which have been a bottleneck for residents of EAC’s to traverse the region without restrictions.
” We want seamless trade among member states executed without conditionalities to match those yesteryears when one could cross to Uganda with possession of only a driving license” he said, citing arbitrary arrests of Kenyan fishermen exporting their fish to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Rt Hon Raila noted that Kenya and Uganda used to enjoy one common currency unlike the current trend when we have each of the member states possessing its own currency.
He added: ” There was common means of transport, the East African Railways and Harbours and OTC Bus company which used to ferry passengers and goods from Nairobi to Kampala and back.We want this back.”
He said with Democratic Republic of Congo becoming the latest country to join the EAC, Kenya especially Busia County will benefit immensely from the economies of scale should the dream for an EAF become a reality.
He went on:” Busia is a strategic centre with prospects of having an Export Processing Zone. With construction of a bridge in Juba, Kenya will have direct trade links with Southern Sudan, thus boosting trade of the border county.
Following approval of the draft by six EAC states after a year of consultations, the EAF would be established by 2023 to herald a new dawn for the region which is among the poorest in Africa.
East African Federation is a proposed political union of the seven sovereign states of the East African Community – Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda – as a single federated sovereign state.
In September 2018, the East African Community appointed a twelve member Committee of Experts to begin drafting a new constitution for an EAF as a step towards full federation by next year.
The cherished dream that spans over two decades will give birth to a new nation that would encompass a large part of East Africa and provide a hopeful future for one of the poorest regions of Africa.