The East African Community (EAC) has been ranked the most integrated bloc among eight regional economic communities (RECs) by the African Regional Integration Index for 2019.
All eight RECs are recognised by the African Union.
The index assesses how countries and regional blocs are making progress towards their integration agendas based on 16 indicators, grouped into five dimensions. It also measures the state of regional integration for the continent as a whole.
The eight RECs are the EAC, Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), Community of the Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“The five dimensions are in respect to free movement of people; infrastructure integration; macroeconomic integration; productive integration; and trade integration,” EAC said in a communique.
EAC was the highest scoring bloc, with an index score of 0.537 followed by AMU (0.488), ECCAS (0.442), Igad (0.438) and Ecowas (0.425).
The CEN-SAD scored 0.377, Comesa 0.367 and SADC 0.337
“The EAC Secretariat is highly pleased with this evaluation,” said EAC Secretary General Liberate Mfumukeko.
“This is a clear indication that we are truly on course to the community’s intended objective of transforming the region into a single market for all factors of production for enhanced welfare and economic prosperity of the people of East Africa.”
Experts say regional integration expands markets and trade, enhances co-operation, mitigates risk, and fosters socio-cultural co-operation and regional stability.
It has also been shown to maximise the benefits of globalisation while countering its negative effects, and stimulate development in least-developed countries by improving productive capacity and encouraging investments in infrastructure projects that hold the most economic potential.