Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013



Once again, we here at the DUNER BLOG have been searching the globe for important news stories you might have missed.  This week, we're off to East Africa!  On Saturday, the heads of state from five nations signed a major trade agreement.  Standing united at a press conference in Kampala, the five large men announced the formation of a new common market and a single currency.  Soon, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi will operate as a giant, united, economic powerhouse. 

Called the East African Community (EAC), the new group will be impressive.  The EAC boasts a population of 135 million people and $85 billion in total Gross Domestic Product.  By uniting their economies, the coalition hopes to change the negative aspects of the region that ultimately deter foreign investment.  "The promise of economic development and prosperity hinges on our integration," said Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta

Currently, the only outside nation investing heavily in the region is...you guessed it...CHINA!  The PRC is currently co-funding a $13.8 billion dollar railroad in Kenya linking Nairobi with Mombasa.  The plan is to replace the archaic British line which first opened in 1891.  When completed, it will provide a much needed connection to the sea for the three landlocked nations in the group.  Now, they will be able to get their goods to the outside world.

You ask: "What does Rwanda export anyhow?"   The good news: It isn't just sugar and bananas anymore!  Large petroleum deposits have recently been discovered in Central Uganda and Western Kenya.  Likewise, Tanzania has vast, untapped natural gas reserves.  However, all five nations lack the infrastructure needed to exploit these natural resources.  The single currency will change all that.  It will "provide the absence of currency risk and a present a greater incentive to invest and trade in East Africa" said Kenyatta.

Interestingly enough, the EAC is not the first super-currency on the African continent.  Elsewhere, the Central African Franc is the currency of six nations.  Meanwhile, the West African Franc is the money used in eight nations.  With plans underway in Southern Africa for a similar plan, a most exciting event in African politics is occurring.  Nations are moving away from the arbitrary lines drawn by European powers 150 years ago.  Today, they are shifting towards larger, more logical, economic entities.  And...they are also forgetting about the issues that used to divide them.  Included in the EAC are both Hutus and Tutsis and both Christians and Muslims.  What a future! 

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