Supporting market-driven and people-centred integration in the East African Community

Project description

Title: Support to East African Market-Driven and People-Centred Integration (SEAMPEC)
Commissioned by: Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union
Country: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda
Lead executing agency: Secretariat of the East African Community (EAC); Arusha (Tanzania)
Overall term: 2019 to 2022

Photo 1: Industrial food processing in the EAC. EAC-GIZ/Roshni Lodhia


The East African Community (EAC) is the most integrated regional economic organisation in Africa according to the Africa Regional Integration Index. Indeed, trade-related integration is more advanced than in other regional economic communities in Africa, as demonstrated by the introduction of common external tariffs, for example. Nevertheless, non-tariff barriers are still an obstacle for implementing the Customs Union and the Common Market. Agreements on the liberalisation of regional trade in service and the mobility of labour are in place, but their implementation is still pending. On top of that, both the private sector and civil society are often not well-informed about the state of integration. They also lack regional networks required to play an active role in the integration process.


The framework conditions for increasing added value in selected regional economic sectors of the East African Community have improved.

SAUTI MarketTraining1


SEAMPEC supports a market-driven and people-centred integration process on three levels. 
Economically, it works to foster economic growth in the EAC, among other things by improving the legal framework to remove trade barriers, for example, in tourism, ICT and professional services. The programme also assists the business sector in developing policy recommendations. Additionally, SEAMPEC helps the EAC to jointly formulate harmonised positions in the negotiations for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Furthermore, it facilitates the implementation of regional agreements in selected economic sectors to bring more added value to the economic activities in those sectors. The GFA Consulting Group is subcontracted to implement parts of the support measures. The programme receives co-funding from the European Union to implement the “Market Access Upgrade Programme” (MARKUP). This promotes the development, implementation and harmonisation of standards and customs procedures. 

To foster social integration, the programme supports the EAC under the initiative “Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa” (IIDEA). IIDEA promotes small-scale projects run by non-state actors that consolidate regional integration and showcase its tangible benefits for the people of East Africa. A special focus lies on youth and women. 

At the level of organisational development, SEAMPEC develops the capacities the EAC Secretariat to implement the fifth EAC Development Strategy. The goals are increased value-addition, industrial development, innovation and investment. Special attention is thus given to EAC departments relevant for achieving the programme goals. Another focus is regional initiatives and trainings related to digital change and, as part of this, an online course was provided on good manufacturing practices (GMP) for medicines and healthcare products.

Lastly, the programme works at the level of individual capacity development to provide the staff of the EAC and the relevant regional organisations with the knowledge and skills they need to push regional integration towards the goals outlined in the EAC Vision 2050. This includes training for EAC staff on how to better communicate the impacts of integration.

Fiebig EAC Rwanda-43


Training courses and technical advice have led to the resumption of stalled negotiations on trade in services between EAC Partner States. As a direct result, more than 50 per cent of service sectors were given new opportunities for cross-border trade. On the AfCFTA national consultations on the development of draft schedules were held in 2019 in all Partner States. An initial EAC offer on trade in goods to reduce tariff lines has been developed and submitted to the African Union Commission. 

The East African pharmaceutical manufacturing sector has grown by an annual growth rate of 12 per cent since 2016. Now, 20 per cent of medicines purchased in the region are provided by regional companies. 
Since 2018, MARKUP has trained more than 470 small and medium sized enterprises (SME) and cooperatives on EU market requirements. It also developed a training manual on developing and harmonising standards and trained EAC National Standards Committees in this area.

37 civil-society and private-sector projects have received funding and guidance by IIDEA since 2016. By March 2021, 58,000 people had benefited directly through increased income, improved trading conditions and better awareness of their rights. A total of 90,000 people participated in IIDEA events.

SEAMPEC supports women in particular in carrying out cross-border trade. EAC-GIZ/Roshni Lodhia

Last update: May 2021