East Africa: Logistical Problems Mar Start of Single Visa Zone in East Africa

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The single visa scheme is expected to boost wildlife tourism in East Africa

Should Tanzania and Burundi eventually decide to join the three other EAC member states, the region will have a joint market of 130 million people.

Chris Opoka, a member of the East African Legislative Assembly, the regional parliament, believes the participation of all states is crucial for the success of the integration process.

"It should not be limited, we are East Africans, it is not three countries. It is five countries," he declared, adding that the necessary confidence still had to be created. One way to do this was to establish joint programs and activities, underlining the unity of the region.

Plans for a single currency

The EAC is also committed to the establishment of the East African Monetary Union, which foresees the adoption of a single currency in ten year's time. The leaders of all five countries signed a protocol to this effect in the Ugandan capital Kampala last December. However a number of problems have yet to be resolved and independent institutions to support such a monetary union have yet to be set up.

IMF Director Christine Lagarde with Kenya's President Kenyatta

On a visit to Kenya at the start of the new year, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, warned the region not to move too hastily in the implementation of the EAC Monetary Union, saying it should learn from mistakes made by the European Union when the single European currency, the euro, was introduced in 2002. She told Kenyan leaders they should take their time "in order to make sure that all the steps are taken and all the boxes are checked. Do not rush, make sure you learn from our mistakes and that the East African Monetary Union can actually teach the Europeans how to do it right."

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