Regional Co-operation

South African Black Business Inspired By EAC
The East African Community (EAC) is looked upon by the rest of the continent as a model of regional economic integration, which, analysts say, holds the key to unlocking Africa’s potential. A cross section of South African business leaders at a recent investment forum in Johannesburg made reference to the steps taken towards integration in the EAC bloc and the outcomes, in terms of increased trade volumes. In 2010, the EAC began implementing the Common Market Protocol, allowing for free movement of goods, labour and capital. It is now working towards a Monetary Union that could see a common currency introduced..

COMESA to Boost Grain Sector
A shift towards the creation of strategic grain reserves by Kenya and other countries in the region will not guarantee high returns to farmers, experts said and called for the adoption of free market systems. In an attempt to cushion farmers hard hit by low returns on investment due to price volatility and inefficient market systems, several regional states, Kenya included, have taken to creating strategic grain reserves (SGRs), which stabilise prices, while providing stocks to mitigate against drought.

Kenya’s reserve is managed by the National Cereals and Produce Board. Some analysts with the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa, an agency of COMESA, however, warned that the reserve schemes risked distorting commodity markets in the region.

EA to Integrate Small Markets
If East Africa is to flourish, it must integrate its small markets. Deepening regional integration and expanding trade are key drivers of sustained economic growth, new business and new jobs, given that around 40 percent of East Africa’s population is under 30 years of age. Good progress is being made in increasing trade volumes across the region.

Besides, the EAC has been one of the best performing regional economic blocs in Africa. The main trade corridors are burdened with rapidly increasing traffic, inadequate infrastructure and inconsistent management policies which affect the price of goods and make the region uncompetitive

EA Okay Plans for Monetary Union in 2012
The EAC states have agreed to fast-track the harmonisation of macroeconomic and financial statistics ahead of 2012’s launch of the EAC Monetary Union. This should see all the countries adopt a common monetary and financial statistics system, as opposed to the current situation, where each economy runs its own system. The agreement followed a third meeting of the High Level Task Force to negotiate the East African Monetary Union that was held in Mwanza to take into account the progress towards the establishment of the Monetary Union.

The partner states have been cautious in pushing for the Monetary Union, with analysts saying they needed to study the implication of transferring all their monetary powers to the regional level, since, after implementation of the Monetary Union, any problems would jeopardise the entire region