FAREWELL TO THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY

(From a speech delivered by President Julius Nyerere on the occasion of the formal dissolution of the East African Community in Arusha on 14th. May, 1984)

Nearly seventeen years ago we met in Kampala and signed the Treaty establishing the East African Community. Today we are meeting to sign an Agreement, which formally brings that Community to an end. Therefore I cannot pretend that this is a very proud day for East Africa! But the past has passed. We have to learn from its mistakes and move forward again.

The existence of the Community was not itself a mistake. On the contrary, in the East African Community our three countries possessed something which was good, which was useful to all our peoples and each of our nations. As a result of it we had a coherent East African infrastructure, which could support a common market and which was an essential prerequisite to the development of large-scale industrial units. None of our East African corporations or institutions worked perfectly. I do not know of any national ones that do either. And just as faults within our domestic economies are dealt with and overcome, to be replaced by new problems, so the inevitable problems in international cooperation structures can be tackled. It was not organisational faults which led to the break-up of the Community.

Nor did the different ideologies adopted in our three countries make cooperation impossible. All of us in practice operate mixed economies; it is only the proportions of public and private enterprise and that underlying philosophies which differ. And all of us cooperate with both capitalist and publicly owned enterprises and institutions outside East Africa. The only reason why the Community broke up was a lack of political will to deal with it in a spirit of unity and in the awareness of our interdependence, with the inevitable difficulties of international cooperation between poor countries.

I think we have now learned this basic lesson. For the break-up of the Community was very expensive for each of our countries as well as for East Africa as a whole. It led to some essential infrastructural facilities being unnecessarily duplicated. Trade patterns were disrupted. We Buffered from trying to provide in isolation those public utilities which require regional action. And we found that in our separate economic discussions with other countries of the world the interests of East Africa could be even more easily disregarded.

Thus, we now know from bitter experience that our countries need each other. Isolation follows from separation and in its turn increases that separation as each country tries in vain to find alternative sources of strength. The result is greater weakness, or at least a failure to grow in strength.

Some of the problems arising from the break-up of the Community were recognised very quickly. A Mediator was appointed early in 1978 and charged with the function of distributing the assets and liabilities of the East African Community. The Agreement we are Signing today is his achievement and our achievement. It is a very real one. There has been an amicable settlement of very difficult and contentious issues and during the negotiations our awareness of being basically East African has been reinforced.

Today’s Agreement puts into legal form the decision of our three Governments about the proportion of the Community assets and liabilities which will be taken over by our respective countries. It marks the acceptance by all our creditors of this arrangement. Bilateral agreements have been made between each of our three East African countries and the creditors concerned. In addition, Kenya and Tanzania have agreed with Uganda on the compensation payments to be made for Uganda’s shortfall in assets. And last but not least, all East African Community pensioners and stockholders have been assured of their due money. Today we are transferring the East African Community to the history books.

As we do so, however, I want to record my sincere thanks to all those who have made our fresh start possible. I cannot mention everyone who contributed. ~t I must repeat my thanks to Dr. Victor Umbricht for his patient perseverance and the way he put his great intellectual and diplomatic abilities to our service. The World Bank and the UNDP financed the work done under his leadership and the British Government provided invaluable technical assistance to hill and therefore to us. The Ministers and Officials of our three Governments have also done an incredible amount of detailed work as well as giving the necessary advice to their respective Presidents. To all these people and institutions I offer my thanks. At the same time I would like to thank our creditors for their cooperation. Some of them have taken that even further by deciding to cancel East African Community debts so as to facilitate the renewal of cooperation in this region. We greatly appreciate this action.

So we in East Africa can now plan our future together. As we do so, we have to recognise the changes which have taken place since 1977 and which prevent the revival of the East African Community in its old form. Some of these changes have taken place within our separate countries, some relate to the different world environment in which we now have to operate. But while none preclude new forms of cooperation, some make it even more imperative than it was in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

In particular, the states of East Africa are now being forced to recognise and revalue their common interests in relation to the industrial world. All of us have been hit by deteriorating terms of trade, by the international economic recession and the monetarist policies which have been adopted to deal with it and by the resurgence in powerful countries of the doctrine that might is right. We have all experienced our individual weakness in negotiation, with its danger of giving away more than we need to do- or should do- because of the desperation of our need. We have therefore come to realise that while standing together will not, for the present, make us strong, it can make us stronger. And in our present weakness every accession of economic or political strength is important.

Trilateral and bilateral discussions about the form of new East African cooperation are getting under way; it is not for me to prophesy their results. There are a few institutions, most notably the East African Development Bank, which we have already decided to carry over from the Community. Some essential tasks so clearly need to be operated on a regional basis that the technical problems of organising cooperation are not likely to create political controversy; the meteorological services and most if not all kinds of research are obviously in this category. But apart from this I can only throw my own ideas into the common pool.

The advantages of East African cooperation, coordination, or joint ownership, in respect of really large scale economic enterprises or public utilities does not need any elaboration. Some energy projects, for example, have technically to be created on a large scale, or not at all, yet our domestic economies, while needing to be supplied, may not be sufficient to justify their size. International transportation enterprises, whether by air or sea, are ruinously expensive for small nations like ours however advantageous it may be to have such a thing under your own control. In the new climate of deliberate and conscious East African cooperation the complex problems of creating these things for our common benefit can be looked at anew.

But why should we stop there? Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have all supported resolutions at the OAU and the Non-Aligned Conference calling for greater South-South economic cooperation. And we are all poor countries. Our national income is low because our output per head of our population is very low. What all of us need is, first, increased production of the goods which can be traded and, secondly, arrangements encouraging regional trade. Is there no way in which through East African cooperation we can improve our level of production?

For example, all three countries have acknowledged that agriculture is the basis of its economy and the starting point for any self-reliant development. And agricultural output in our peasant societies as much as in other forms of agricultural organisation depends on better seeds, on the availability of fertiliser, insecticides and pesticides and on the provision of agricultural implements and machinery. Surely we should investigate the potential benefits to our nations and to East Africa of cooperation in such areas.

Or again, some consumer goods and services can with advantage be produced on a small scale, even at village or district level. The economic viability of other manufacturing processes demands what is for each of us at present a national market. However, some essential manufactured goods can only be produced economically on a scale which none of our economies can at present support. Why cannot we designate, or establish, ‘East African Industries’ for this purpose? These would have to be organised in such a way that we all have a genuine and continuing interest in them and their efficiency and, politics being what they are, their geographic distribution will have to be in rough balance. They could be, but do not have to be, joint enterprises; shares in them could be publicly or privately owned according to the preferences of the host or participating country. Certainly I am convinced that Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania could all gain from such cooperation in large scale production and that we have among our citizens the ability to work out modes of operation and ownership appropriate to our common needs and differing economic structures and organisations.

Colleagues and friends, our purpose here is formally to wind up the East African Community so that we can move to the new task of organising and implementing East African cooperation for the 1980’s and beyond. Our Ministers have already been instructed to begin the new work. Now that they are relieved of the burden of the past I am confident that they will bring to their new duties the same commitment and energy which they have recently devoted to the Agreement we are signing today. I look forward to the summit meeting at which we shall approve the implementation of new cooperation arrangements. For decisions relating to our economies are being made every day. If we do not make them in the context of East African cooperation our countries will be constantly moving further and further away from each other and along different routes to the same destination of economic stagnation.

Julius K. Nyerere

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