The East African Federation (Swahili: Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki) is a proposed political union of the six sovereign states of the East African Community – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda – as a single federated sovereign state. In September 2018, a committee was formed to begin the process of drafting a regional constitution, and a draft constitution for the confederation is set to be written by 2021, with its implementation by 2023
At 2,467,202 km2 (952,592 sq mi), the East African Federation (EAF) would be the largest country in Africa and 10th-largest in the world. With a population of 183,625,246 as of 2019, it would also be the second most populous nation in Africa (after Nigeria) and eighth in the world. Its population would be greater than that of Russia, Japan and Mexico, and roughly half that of the United States.
Swahili would be the lingua franca while the second official language would be English. Dar es Salaam would be the most populous city in the proposed federation, by city limits, and Nairobi would have the most populous metropolitan area. The proposed capital is Arusha, a city in Tanzania close to the Kenyan border, which is also the current headquarters of the East African Community.
The union’s proposed currency would be the East African shilling, which according to a 2013 published report is slated to become the common currency of five of the six member countries by 2023.[ The GDP (PPP) estimate would be US602.584 billion and be the 34th largest in the world and the fourth largest in Africa, following Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa. The GDP (PPP) per capita estimate would be US$ 3,286, putting the EAF at 156th in the world.
Proposed East African Federation in the 1960s
In the early 1960s, around the time Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda and Zanzibar were gaining independence from the United Kingdom, the political leaders of the four nations had become interested in forming a federation. Julius Nyerere even offered in 1960 to delay the imminent independence of Tanganyika (due in 1961) in order for all of the East African territories to achieve independence together as a federation.
In June 1963, Kenyan Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta met with the Tanganyikan President Julius Nyerere and Ugandan Prime Minister Milton Obote in Nairobi. The trio discussed the possibility of merging their three nations (plus Zanzibar) into a single East African Federation, declaring that this would be accomplished by the end of the year. Subsequently, discussions on the planning for such a union were initiated.
Privately, Kenyatta was more reluctant regarding the arrangement and as 1964 came around the federation had not come to pass. In May 1964, Kenyatta rejected a back-benchers resolution calling for speedier federation. He publicly stated that talk of a federation had always been a ruse to hasten the pace of Kenyan independence from Britain, but Nyerere denied the veracity of this statement. Around the same time, Obote came out against an East African Federation, instead supporting pan-African unity, partly because of domestic political pressures with the semi-autonomous kingdom of Buganda’s opposition to being in an East African federation as part of Uganda but rather as a unit in its own right.
By late 1964, the prospects for a wider East African federation had died, although Tanganyika and Zanzibar did form a union in April 1964, eventually becoming Tanzania.
The federation of the current East African Community into a single state has been discussed, with early estimates of the founding of the federation in 2013. In 2010, the EAC launched its own common market within the region, with the goal of a common currency by 2013 and full political federation in 2015.
South Sudan was approved for membership of the EAC in March 2016, and acceded in September 2016. It would become the 6th member of the East African Federation. It is unclear how the potential accession of South Sudan to the EAC may affect the timeline for federation or the scope thereof, but given the infrastructure problems that persist in the fledgling country since President Salva Kiir Mayardit cut off oil commerce with Sudan, the South has decided to invest in constructing pipelines that circumvent Sudan’s, which it had been using until that time. These new pipelines would extend through Ethiopia to the ports of Djibouti, as well as to the southeast to the coast of Kenya. These collaborations could increase the likelihood of South Sudan joining the East African Federation at some point.
On 14 October 2013, the leaders of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi began a meeting in Kampala intending to draft a constitution for the East African Federation, but in December 2014, efforts for a full political federation had been pushed back to 2016 or later.
In February 2016, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni described the union as “the number one target that we should aim at”. In November 2016, the EAC Council of Ministers agreed to create an East African Confederation before the East African Federation is eventually created.
In September 2018, a committee of regional constitutional experts and drafters was formed to begin the process of drafting a regional constitution. The committee met for a five-day consultation meeting in Burundi from 14–18 January 2020, where it announced that a confederation constitution would be drafted by the end of 2021. Following approval of the draft by the six EAC states after a year of consultations, the East African Confederation would be established by 2023. The road map towards a full political federation will be discussed in detail at future meetings
Population and fertility rate
2019 Population statistics of constituent states
|EAC as a whole
Uganda: Protestant 45.1% (Anglican 32.0%, Pentecostal/Born Again/Evangelical 11.1%, Seventh-day Adventist 1.7%, Baptist .3%), Roman Catholic 39.3%, Muslim 13.7%, other 1.6%, none 0.2%. (2014 census)
Kenya: Christian 85.5% (Protestant 33.4%, Catholic 20.6%, Evangelical 20.4%, African Instituted Churches 7%, other Christian 4.1%), Muslim 10.9%, other 1.8%, none 1.6%, don’t know/no answer 0.2% (2019 census)
Tanzania: Christian 63.1%, Muslim 34.1%, folk religion 1.1%, other 0.1%, unaffiliated 1.6% (2020 Pew research est.)
Rwanda: Protestant 49.5% (includes Adventist 11.8% and other Protestant 37.7%), Roman Catholic 43.7%, Muslim 2%, other 0.9% (includes Jehovah’s Witness), none 2.5%, unspecified 1.3% (2012 census)
Burundi: Roman Catholic 62.1%, Protestant 23.9% (includes Adventist 2.3% and other Protestant 21.6%), Muslim 2.5%, other 3.6%, unspecified 7.9% (2008 CIA est.)
South Sudan: Christianity 60.5%, Islam 6.2%, Folk religions 32.9%, Others 0.5%. (2020 Pew research est.) Note: Last conducted census is a 2008 Sudanese census. Since data is old, CIA does not provide data on the composition of the population, and Pew does not provide projections.
East African Community: Christianity 77.64%, Islam 17.01%, Folk religions 3.38%, Unaffiliated 1.49%, Hindus 0.13%, Others 0.01%. (2020 Pew Research est.)
In The News
In 2018, leaders of the East African Community met in Arusha, Tanzania, the headquarters of this organization, and drafted plans to form a single country composed of all six member states – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. This new country will henceforth be known as the East African Federation, the largest country in Africa by area, with the eighth largest population, and an economy ranked below Chile and Kazakhstan in terms of GDP. A New African Nation: The East African Federation, 2021 will simulate the creation of this federation.
While this committee will deal with some of the current issues facing East Africa, it is first and foremost a committee about building a new country. Delegates will be tasked with creating a legislature, organizing a military, integrating economies, building governmental ministries and departments, and establishing an executive position.These five goals will be assigned to each of the five committee sessions, meaning delegates will have a short time limit to debate, compromise, and implement solutions.
This committee will be extremely technical, and research will involve not only understanding the current political and economic situation of all six member states, but also understanding those situations in other states around the world, with systems that may be implemented in the EAF. For example, in order to establish a legislature, delegates will need to understand the current legislative systems, and also learn about other systems that may be successfully integrated into the EAF.
The future and success of the newest African nation is in the hands of delegates.