By Peninnah Mbabazi
The East African Common Market Protocol was established in 2010 emphasising that the establishment of the East African Community Common Market is in line with the provisions of the EAC Treaty.
It provides for the free movement of goods; labour; services; and capital, which will significantly boost trade and investments and make the region more productive and prosperous.
East African Community (EAC) member states have been slow to implement the Common Market Protocol (C.M.P) and its key agreements, which affect the pace of free movement of goods and capital. The aim of the protocol was to significantly boost trade and investments that would make the region more productive and prosperous but failure to honour their obligation of reviewing their domestic legislation and ensuring compliance with the protocol will result in loss for all partner states.
Uganda’s effective participation in the East African Community provides numerous opportunities and benefits such as access to a larger market, lower costs of doing business, improvements in infrastructure, increased investment opportunities, enhanced access to education and health services, political stability, and peace and security. Regional integration will transform Uganda from a landlocked to a land linked country and provide connectedness at various levels, which will ultimately lead to better livelihood and greater opportunities for Ugandan people. As Uganda is becoming more engaged in the East African Community, we need to implement the common market to open new doors to Uganda’s economy.
It is essential to mainstream regional integration into Uganda’s development especially in connection with the effective functioning of the common market. This encourages more investment; successful firms will be able to increase their size by reaping the benefits of larger scale from serving a bigger market. This increase in investment leading to the level of economic growth will be higher. It also offers opportunities for all countries to gain provided that all elements are implemented.
The Common Market Protocol is a significant step towards the achievement of the next milestones in the integration process. With putting into consideration as the 3rd East African Legislative Assembly which took place in Kampala where President Museveni remarked that what the region now needed was to strengthen competitiveness, address costs of doing business and reduce risks. This will have an impact on people in EAC to business opportunities which will entice sustainable development.
Infrastructure is a prerequisite to development and emphasis should be put on improving roads, ICTs with emphasis to commence on the construction of the standard gauge railway from Malabala to Nimule and from Malaba to Kasese to Rwandan borders, which will reduce the cost on transportation enabling traders to carry out business, future investors throughout the country. This will have cited infrastructural advancements in rail, energy ports and harbours sub-sector as some of its achievements.
The challenge many people face, especially in times of the cost of transporting goods across borders, the time it takes to get a work permit to work in another country which all could be improved by careful monitoring of implementation and indicators of integration. With the common market, people will benefit from access to a wider range of goods and services and increased competition in an integrated East African market. People with skills will be able to sell their service which makes the region more attractive and reduce the outflows of key professionals to western countries. All these provisions have to be put into consideration to welcoming a new East Africa with common interests and aspirations.
The writer is an employee at Uganda Debt Network.