Wednesday, June 19, 2013


The  Eastern African countries comprising of  Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda now wants to have one common currency. Before they finally do that, they need to learn from the EU(European Union). Those of us who are following what is lately taking place in Europe know very well that countries like Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain are struggling to stay a float economically due to urge debts they are struggling to offset. One reason why this is so is due to the fact that once they joined the Euro, those countries are held captive as far their money handling is concerned. For example, they cannot devalue the currency they are using(Euro) because they have no power to do so. This scenario makes their exports expensive , hence no money is coming in. How did this happen?
           The  Maastricht treaty which brought the 27 EU counties together was signed in December 1991. Of the 27 countries that signed the treaty, 26 gave up their currencies, but Britain declined to give up its currency; the sterling pound, by seeing an opt-out. The British argued that if they gave up their currency, they will at the same time give up its sovereignty.The EU countries are now struggling to maintain the Euro, and some are now suggesting that they sign a new treaty , which the British will definitely  oppose( Britain is already pulled out of the 27 countries), and even if the new treaty will be signed, those remaining countries will have to face their constituents through a referendum to adopt the new treaty.
         In 1989, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation(APEC), was established. Its aim was to facilitate trade and investment and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. When it was formed, there was a time frame allocated : 2010- 2020. Another reason why APEC was formed was to reduce the gap in economic development of the region(those countries that comprise APEC).
       In 1967, ASEAN was established. The countries that now comprise ASEAN are: Indonesia, Malaysia,The Philippines, Singapore,Thailand(these were the original five which comprised ASEAN) Brunei , Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar(Burma), and Cambodia. The objective of these 10 countries were:
  - acceleration of economical growth,
  -social progress,
  -cultural development, and in addition, ASEAN countries promote regional peace and stability through respect for the rule of law, and encourages the adherence to the principles of UN Charter.
      One thing all these regional groups of countries have in common save those of EU is that they did not give up their currencies. They knew that if they did so, they would have given up their sovereignty  too. If a country gives up its sovereignty, it knows that it will have to be dictated in all that it does. As former Chinese President Jiang Zemin once argued in 2000 at the UN Millennium Summit that " History and reality tell us that sovereignty  is the only premise and guarantee of human rights within each nation".
    As EA residents, we must be careful not to be rushed to accept a common EA currency like that of the Euro. People must be told the effect this will have on the economy if we decide to adopt it. We must learn  from what is happening in Europe, an dhow some countries in that common currency union are suffering now and they do not have any way out now. As a Kenyan, I will oppose the common currency for EAC  as it will not be of any help to me, but may create more problem than what it is intended to solve. Any thoughts?

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