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    East African Federation: Prospects for Future Cooperation

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    The East African Federation is a proposed political union between several nations in East Africa. Uganda, Burundi, the DRC, South Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania seek to form a political federation, potentially uniting a large swathe of central and eastern Africa. This action will form a superstate stretching from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. If the project is successful, the EAF will rank as one of the most populous and largest countries in the world. There are major obstacles to the eventual goal of integration for the East African Federation, but the expected benefits are encouraging. The EAF’s predecessor organization, the East African Community, just conducted its first military deployment to the DRC. 

    KJ-1: There is a realistic probability that EAC member states will cannot complete a draft constitution in the next 12 months. 

    • The original proposal for an EAF originated in the 1960’s. The East African Community itself collapsed in 1977 because of infighting [source]. 
    • A committee with representatives from each country was formed in 2018, however, this process encountered many setbacks [source].
    • When Burundi hosted a committee meeting, Rwandan representatives boycotted the meeting. Burundi acknowledged that meeting the federation deadline without Rwandan support was nearly impossible [source].  
    • When Rwanda hosted a similar meeting, Burundian officials also declined to attend. Local disputes are a major challenge for future integration of the East Africa Federation [source]. 
    • A major step towards federalization is the implementation of a monetary union. The mechanism intended to implement that union by 2024 is now scrapped. Member states could not meet targets on public debt and inflation [source]. 
    • Rwanda and Uganda share a closed border, as both countries believe the other is sponsoring internal rebellion. This directly contravenes the point of a common market and free travel [source]. 
    • Kenya and Tanzania are in a dispute over COVID-19 restrictions and Kenyan flights to Tanzania. This led to a wider political row between the two countries’ leadership [source]. 

    KJ-2: It is unlikely that delays to federalization deadlines will end the EAF project in the next 12 months. 

    • Kenya and Rwanda are the greatest drivers behind integration policies among East African Community members [source].  
    • Although Kenyatta was replaced by William Ruto, Ruto explicitly supports the EAF [source]. 
    • Ruto claimed last month in Nairobi that the EAF “is no longer a wild imagination or an idle dream. It is no longer a matter of if, it is a matter of when” [source]. 
    • Ruto also claimed that as barriers to trade fell, trade volumes vastly increased [source]. 
    • Ruto further reiterated the need for a “borderless east Africa” while attending Uganda’s independence day celebrations [source]. 
    • The East African Community is highly integrated as a regional cooperative framework [source].
    • There is a community wide system of E-Passports which allows travel across the entire EAC [source]. 
    • The EAC also maintains strong links through a customs union, which significantly reduces barriers to trade [source]. 
    • In 2018, the EAC inaugurated a common market for all community members [source].
    • The DR Congo and Sudan joined the EAC in 2022 and 2016, respectively, showing that there is a strong interest in eventual federalization from other sub-Saharan African nations [source]. 

    KJ-3: It is likely the EAC military deployment to the DRC will strengthen inter-regional cooperation in the next 12 months.

    • DRC President Tshisekedi signed an agreement in Tanzania to allow the deployment of EAC troops to the DRC [source]. 
    • The deployment to the DRC is the first such military operation of the EAC. The proposed timeline for the deployment is currently 6 months, alongside UN peacekeeping forces [source]. 
    • Under the joint leadership of Kenyan and DRC officers, the EAC forces will follow meditation efforts in Nairobi between the DRC and several armed groups [source]. 
    • The mitigation of extremist activity in North Kivu will improve the contentious relationship between Rwanda and the DRC. This could be a major step forward for integration of the East Africa Federation [source].
    • A major motivation behind the regional force deployment is preventing such tensions from developing into a wider war between EAC member states [source]. 
    • Ugandan troops will be specifically tasked with combating elements of the IS aligned Allied Democratic Forces [source]. 
    • Tanzanian troops will join Burundi in South Kivu to fight RED-Tabara insurgents. Burundi was given permission to enter DRC territory to fight insurgents in December [source]. 
    • Besides this, South Sudanese soldiers have permission to engage the remaining elements of the LRA left in Haut-Uélé province [source]. 

    Intelligence Cut-Off Date: November 11, 2022

    Alec Smith
    Alec Smith
    Alec Smith is a graduate of the MSC International Relations program of the University of Aberdeen and holds an LLB in Global Law from Tilburg University.

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