In March 2016 the Tanzanian-German Centre for Eastern African Legal Studies (TGCL), one of East Africa’s leading think-tanks on regional integration law, organised a three-day Seminar on East African Community and Comparative Regional Integration Law. The participants drew from various East African law faculties, from non-governmental organisations as well as from law firms.
It was a unique feature of the seminar that it discussed the East African integration process from a comparative perspective. This enabled the participants to gain additional and transferable insights into the functioning of regional integration. Whereas Dr Wanyama Masinde from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Kenya gave an overview on the law of the East African Community, Professor Jörg Gundel from the University of Bayreuth in Germany, which is the TGCL partner university, discussed the relevant legal aspects from the European perspective. Professor Richard Oppong from Ghana, who is teaching at the Thompson Rivers University in Canada, looked at the legal regimes of various regional economic communities in Africa. Finally, Professor Palamagamba Kabudi from the University of Dar es Salaam analysed aspects of East African Community Law from the Tanzanian national perspective.
This seminar was conducted in a highly participatory manner. Each resource person was given about 30 minutes of presentation. This was followed by questions, discussions and inputs which largely added value to the seminar and knowledge of participants. Discussions centered on the need for having a more workable regional cooperation. A call for harmonisation of the laws of the East African Partner States, policies and practice was made with a view to facilitating the operation of the customs union, common market, monetary union and the proposed political federation. There was also a call for the establishment of mechanisms within the EAC to solve all actual and potential conflicts among or between partner states that may threaten the East African cooperation.
There was also an in-depth presentation and discussions on the EAC institutions, especially on the role of the East African Court of Justice in the integration process. It was noted that there is a need for advocates within the EAC countries to familiarize themselves with the Court’s Rules and Procedures to enable them to utilise the services of the Court with a view to ensuring that growth among member states is balanced.