With the launch of East African Community Common Market on July 1, 2010 by the Heads of State of the five member countries, the region has therefore ushered in free movement of goods, persons, labour and services.
The common market provides for the right of establishment, the right of residence, free movement of services and free movement of capital within Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi.
The free market will also widen and deepen cooperation among the partner states in economic and social-cultural fields.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki together with Presidents Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda and Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi are spearheading the regional integration process.
With the common market in place, East Africans stands to benefit a lot from a variety of goods and services including the newly discovered Ugandan oil and other mineral resources in the region.
Economic growth and development of partner states will also be accelerated by the common market through the attainment of free movement of goods, persons, labour, services and capital.
In addition, the partner states are obliged to guarantee free movement of persons who are citizens of other member states as well as to ensure non-discrimination of the partner sates.
East African nationals shall enjoy the freedom to apply for employment, accept offers for employment and to move freely within territories of the partner states for employment. National governments, shall, however, limit the free movement of persons on grounds of public policy, public security or public health but must appropriately notify partner states.
The common market will no doubt unlock many benefits among the East African citizens in addition to driving the integration process union being spearheaded by European Central bank and collaboration with the East African Community Secretariat.
The East African regional integration will enter the third stage of roadmap in 2012 and thereafter take the appropriate steps so as to achieve the desires of our people in 2015 on Political Federation of East Africa.
East African Community will therefore usher in a free market of over 126 million people in a vast region of more than 1.8 million square kilometres. This might even be bigger in future when Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somali join the Community.