Photograph — techjaja

In a sentiment that reaffirms the group’s motto of One People One Destiny, the East African Community has outlined a transformative and communal budget, with the six-member nations planning to spend $111,450,529. The budget, themed “Transforming lives through industrialization and job creation for shared prosperity,” was presented at the East African Legislative Assembly by Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Damas Ndumbaro.

Top on the EAC’s expected spending is the secretariat, which will receive over $53.3 million, about 11.5 percent of the entire budget, followed by the East African Legislative Assembly, which will receive $18.9 million. Lake Victoria Basin Commission will get $13million, while the Inter-University Council for East Africa will receive $9.6 million. The East African Court of Justice and the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization will receive $4.2 million and $4.1 million respectively, while the East African Health Research Commission will spend $4 million. East African Science and Technology Commission and East African Kiswahili Commission will be allocated $1.9 million and $1.5 million respectively.

Of course, everybody getting something out of the budget is also putting something into it. The six-member nations will provide about $49.8 million through their designated ministries in charge of EAC, while their respective education ministries will contribute $4.4 million, and the fishery ministries adding $2 million. The EAC cannot completely feed itself, so development partners like Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, and the World Bank among others, will provide $54 million. Universities from member nations will contribute about $468,300.

One big obstacle to the fulfilment of all these lovely and noble fiscal planning is the desperate individual situations of member nations. There’s one half of the bloc doing well: Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. There’s another half on the extremely poor and restlessly violent spectrum: cue South Sudan, Burundi, and Uganda. It is no surprise that by the end of March this year, last year’s budget was still hampered by poor member nation due compliance, especially Burundi and South Sudan. If the EAC is to make any significant progress with this ambitious budget, chairman Paul Kagame and his friends will need to first align the realities of that other half with his country’s, Tanzania’s and Kenya’s stability.

Even though the EAC remains the fastest-growing region in Africa, with Somalia and DRC reportedly soliciting membership, there are also genuine concerns about the rising debt profile of all the countries on the bloc, even the ones who are doing well.

By Caleb Ajinomoh

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