The East African Community: Everything You Need to Know

The East African Community: Everything You Need to Know

What is the East African Community?

The East African Community (EAC) is the regional intergovernmental organisation of the Republics of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The Treaty for Establishment of the East African Community was signed in 1999 and it entered into force in 2000 following its ratification by the Partner States. Download EAC Treaty

What are the areas of co-operation between the Partner States?

The regional co-operation and integration envisaged in the East African Community is wide ranging, involving co-operation in political, economic, social and cultural fields, research, technology and skills development, defence, security and legal affairs for mutual and equitable development in the region.

How is the East African Community managed?
The main Organs of the East African Community are the Summit of Heads of State, the Council of Ministers, the Co-ordination Committee, the East African Court of Justice, the East African Legislative Assembly, and the Secretariat. Autonomous Institutions of the Community include the East African Development Bank (EADB), Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO), Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), the Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA), The East African Health and Research Commission (EAHRC), The East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTCO), the East African Kiswahili Commission (EAKC), and the East African Competition Authority (EACA).  Read more about EAC Organs  | Read more about EAC Institutions

What are the aims and objectives of the East African Community?

The East African Community aims at widening and deepening co-operation among the Partner States in, among others, political, economic and social fields for their mutual benefit. To this extent there shall be established a Customs Union as the entry point of the Community, a Common Market, subsequently a Monetary Union and ultimately a Political Federation of the East African States. Read more about the EAC pillars of integration

How do I find a report, protocol or publication I'm looking for?

EAC reports or publications that have been made available online are organised by sector. That means if you are looking for a report on a subject that is health-related, you will access it from the dedicated EAC Health section. Reports posted to these websites may not be signed, even if they are an accurate representation of the signed equivalent. For signed copies, visit the EAC Resource Centre.  Access EAC Publications  |  Access EAC Information Repository  |  Access EAC Reports Database

EAC Emblems

What do the colours in the EAC Flag represent?
The blue background (representing Lake Victoria) signifies the unity of the EAC Partner States, while the white, black, green, yellow and red represent the different colours of the flags of each of the EAC Partner States.

When did the EAC get an anthem?
The EAC Anthem was adopted by the EAC Summit of Heads of State during their 12th Ordinary Meeting held on 3 December 2010 in Arusha, Tanzania. The Anthem is in Kiswahili and has three stanzas. Both choral and brass versions are available on this website. Download EAC Anthem

During which occasions is the EAC Anthem played?
East Africans citizens can sing or play the Anthem on occasions of regional significance. The Anthem is also played or sung on any of the following occasions: EAC Summit meetings; EAC Council meetings; commemoration of EAC days; when a Head of State addresses EALA; opening of EALA Sessions; opening of the EACJ Law Year; and on national occasions in Partner States.

How is the Anthem applied?
All three stanzas of the Anthem are played at EAC Summit meetings and EAC Commemoration days. Two stanzas are played at any occasion of the Community where a Head of State is present. At any other occasion only one stanza of the Anthem is played. See Guidelines on EAC Anthem use here


Office of the Secretary General

What is the Secretary General's role? Who appoints the Secretary General? How long is the term of the Secretary General?
The Secretary General is appointed by the EAC Summit of Heads of State upon nomination by the relevant Head of State under the principle of rotation among the Partner States.

What are the functions of the Office of the Secretary General?
The Secretary General is the principal executive officer of the Community and in this capacity is charged with heading of the Secretariat; the Accounting Officer of the Community; sits as the Secretary of the Summit; and carries out such other duties as are conferred upon him by the Treaty or by the Council from time to time.

How long does the Secretary General's term last?
The Secretary General of the Community serves a fixed 5-year term.

How are the Deputy Secretaries General of the Community appointed?
Upon the appointment of the Secretary General, the Partner State from which he or she is appointed forfeits the post of Deputy Secretary General.

Thereafter, the Deputy Secretaries General are appointed by the Summit on recommendations of the Council and on a rotational basis.

The Deputy Secretaries General are charged with deputizing for the Secretary General and performing such other duties as may be prescribed by the Council.

How long are the terms of the Deputy Secretaries General?
Each Deputy Secretary General serves a 3-year term, renewable once.

How many Deputy Secretaries General are there?
The Council determines the number of Deputy Secretaries General (DSG). Currently there are 2 Deputy Secretaries General:

  • DSG in charge of Customs, Trade & Monetary Affairs, and
  • DSG in charge of Infrastructure, Productive, Social and Political Sectors


Travelling in East Africa

What do I do if I urgently need to travel between EAC states but have no passport?
East African citizens may freely travel from one EAC state to another using the following documents:

Passports: East Africans may use valid national passports to travel within the region, or use the East African Passport, which was introduced as a travel document to ease border crossing for East Africans. Currently, the East African Passport may be used for travel within the EAC region only. It has a six months’ multiple entry validity, which is one of the privileges it accords the holder.

Other travel documents:

Certificates of Identity/Inter-state Passes, issued by local immigration authorities to citizens who cannot be readily issued with a passport in emergency situations, may be used to travel across the EAC in place of a passport.

National Identification Cards are also recognized as travel documents by Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda and can be used when travelling between the 3 Partner States.

Visas: Nationals of East African Community Partner States (with the exception of DRC) do not require visas to travel to the other EAC member states (with the exception of DRC).

Do I need a visa to travel from one EAC country to the next?

If you are a citizen of any one of the 6 EAC Partner States you will not need a visa to travel to any of the countries within the EAC bloc. For visitors from outside East Africa, please check individual EAC Partner State Immigration/Home Affairs websites for visa information.

Which documents do I need to carry along with me when travelling to any EAC state?

Standard travel documents such as national passports apply for East Africans and non-East Africans alike, although East Africans may use temporary travel documents or National Identification cards in place of the national passport where applicable.

I would like to use my vehicle in another EAC country; what should I do?

East Africans are allowed to drive private cars across borders and across the entire EAC region, free of charge, for visits no longer than 7 days. All you have to do is fill a form, obtainable at border crossing points, which grants you the free access.

Do I need to acquire a local driver's licence to drive my car in another EAC state?

Citizens of EAC states need not acquire a new licence to drive in another EAC country. Driver’s licences from any of the Partner States apply anywhere in the EAC region. Suffice it to say that your licence must be valid.

As a resident of East Africa, can I use my current mobile phone number when I travel through the region?

Yes. Thanks to a series of inter-operator roaming agreements and the East Africa One-Network Area, East African residents may continue to use their local mobile phone numbers, sometimes without incurring roaming charges. *Please check the availability of this service with your operator.

What should I do if I lose my travel documents while visiting another country?

If you lose your travel documents, report to the nearest police station as soon as possible. With the Police's help you should be able to access temporary travel documents from your country's diplomatic mission.

I want to learn more about the culture(s) and people. What activities can you recommend?

There is a myriad actvities/events to avail yourself of while in East Africa. From the arts to sport to music and cultural festivals, the options are unlimited.

I am a citizen of Tanzania living in the United Kingdom, I have UK right of abode in my United Republic of Tanzania passport, do I need a visa to visit Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi or Uganda?

A citizen of any of the East African Community Partner States (with the exception of DRC) does not require a visa to travel to or through East Africa.  Also note that East African citizens pay the same rates as locals in a given EAC country to access any tourist or accommodation facilities.

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