The East African Community Cooperatives Bill 2014, Now Just Waiting For Signing
One thing that the five East African Community (EAC) member countries share is that they all heavily rely on agricultural production as the backbone of their economies and chief export. The five countries Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi, have slowly been integrating their economies into one economic block over the past decade.
A new bill dubbed the East African Cooperatives Bill 2014 was passed in January this year and was to a large extend unnoticed by the average citizen of the EAC. The bill geared towards ushering in a new dawn for the EAC’s economies and people to a higher level of socio-economic development and integration. It is now just waiting for the five presidents of the EAC countries to append their signature for it to become a law.
The bill seeks to harmonize the legislative framework that will facilitate the cooperative societies within the economic bloc. Many view the bill as a vote of confidence in the East African Community and a tool that will propel their socio-economic development to a higher level.
One Mike Sebalu moved the Bill, a Member of Parliament in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) from Uganda, who believes the bill addresses the East Africans needs to catalyze their economic and social development.
Sebalu said, “The spirit of the EAC’s integration agenda is that it is people-centered, private sector led and market-driven process that aligns itself with the potential of cooperative organizations that have hitherto not been exploited for the benefit of the entire region.”
According to Sebalu, the cooperative as ‘people-owned’ institutions have the power to change the EAC into an economic powerhouse.
“The synergy between the EAC’s vision and the principles of the region’s co-operative movement was instrumental in stoking up the support from EALA parliaments for the creation of a regional law governing cooperatives,” Sebalu further explained.
Sebalu went further to explain that cooperatives have the potential to not only transform the societies, but also reduce the unemployment levels. “They are an entry point for primary producers to engage in regional trade and maximize the benefits of a common market.”
The cooperatives are at the very heart of the East African region and are viewed as an ideal model for running businesses especially for agro-based businesses. They are said to be also scalable and have a great capacity to exploit various opportunities being created by the regional integration process within the EAC common market.