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The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the East African Community (EAC) members’ Foreign Ministers discussed the possible merger of the two regional economic communities in a bid to establish a bigger economic coalition, which will speed up the integration process and ensure greater economic development and prosperity for the peoples of the East Africa Region.
Foreign Ministers of Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda and the Minister of Justice of Burundi, met here in Addis Ababa on October 12 at a side event of the 15th Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government at the African Union.
The Ministers deliberated on a range of issues that are of common interest and concern to the Eastern Africa Region.
At this consultative forum, the merger of the two communities is said to possibly establish a bigger economic coalition which will speed up the integration process and ensure greater economic development and prosperity for the peoples of the Eastern Africa region, according to the information obtained from the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
Dina Mufti (Amb.), spokesperson of MoFA, told journalists at the regular bi-weekly press briefing that the talk of union between these two communities of the same region is the first of its kind. “This is the first initiative between the IGAD and the EAC,” Dina said.
Heads of state of these two communities agreed that the preparation work should be laid out immediately in order to facilitate the union, according to Dina.
Seven members of the IGAD, which has a vision of achieving peace, prosperity and regional integration, have already started working on the integration via the Championship program, which focuses on infrastructure development, according to Dina. Ethiopia, for instance, is trying to improve its [economic] integration with Djibouti, Sudan and South Sudan, according to the spokesperson. “With Djibouti, it is trying to integrate via electric power and railway. We are building roads that connect Ethiopia to Sudan and South Sudan,” he told journalists.
IGAD, which has the objectives of promoting joint development strategies and gradually coordinating macro-economic policies and programmes in the social, technological and scientific fields has eight original member countries. Eritrea, however, isn’t actively engaged.
Some countries are members of both communities.
According to MoFA, the ministers welcomed the increasing trend of consultation and collaboration between the member states of IGAD and the EAC and stressed the importance of fast-tracking regional integration in the East Africa region in line with the Constitutive Act of the African Union and the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Regional Economic Communities.
According to Dina, the Ministers deliberated on a range of issues, including the Westgate Shopping Mall terrorist attack in Nairobi, the decision of their heads of state in relation to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the significant progress made in Somalia, on both the political and security fronts