Monday, 15 July 2013

Donor interests shaping East African regional integration?

" [...] the aid effectiveness paradigm notwithstanding, donors have been and continue to be motivated by their own strategic [...] interests and aspirations" (Ravi Kanbur)

Since its re-establishment in 2000, the East African Community (EAC) has experienced a surge in Official Development Assistance (ODA). Between 2005 and 2013, the volume of ODA disbursed to support the EAC budget increased by 800% from US$8.5 million to US$76.1 million and the portfolio of donors expanded to constitute over 25 development partners. In the 2013/14 financial year budget estimates, ODA constitutes 65.0% of total EAC income. 

There are concerns that the prominence of ODA in EAC revenue streams might be negatively influencing the trajectory of the integration process. Article 132 of the EAC treaty requires that the EAC budget be funded by equal contributions from Partner States. The Secretariat has, however, not succeeded in sufficiently consolidating such funding. Though contributions from member states more than doubled between 2005 and 2013, its proportion of the total EAC budget declined by 21.7% while the share of ODA increased by 21.7% over the same period. Both the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the Secretary General of the EAC have cautioned that the continued dependence on donors may deflect the EAC from its primary objectives and urged Partner States to raise the bulk of funding for the EAC budget in order to remain adequately in charge of the integration agenda.

" [...] the result maybe and experience shows that it infrequently is, a concentration of operational work on particular themes that correspond more to donor preferences than to overall programme priorities defined at national or international levels ..." (UN Publications)

Studies on resource flows for multilateral institutions in the past have indicated that whereas ODA significantly expands and diversifies revenue streams for recipients, it can be exploited to exert influence over policy, legislative and operational conduct of recipient multilateral organisations. Donors may capitalise on their patronage to skew operational work to their political and strategic aspirations thereby failing to align their resources to the priorities of the recipient. This might frustrate effective execution of an institution’s mandate and undermine the achievement of its core objectives. 

The question is: 
  • What has motivated the surge in donor interest in the East Africa Community?
  • How much have donors influenced the conduct of the EAC integration process thus far?
  • To what extent has the over reliance on donor support to finance the EAC budget impinged on the ability of the institution to objectively drive through its agenda?
  • To what level have donor interests and preferences occupied and and shaped the EAC integration agenda?
  • Are there any accountability mechanisms within the EAC framework to manage donor interests?

“ [...] developmental or humanitarian concerns including poverty receive relatively low or zero weight” when donor motivations for aid delivery are considered" (Mark McGillivray)


  1. i noted this too, a while back, and i thought it was pretty odd. there should be some policy to have member states contribute at least eighty percent of the funds. unfortunately i dont have answers to any of the questions ypou asked, but i admit there is a concern of aid being used to fund donor interests. perhaps you can tell us more.

    1. Look at it this way; the EAC could be enacting legislation largely beneficial to foreigners at the expense of East Africans in the name of sourcing funding for integration. Case example is the EAC anti-counterfeits bill - "An act of the community to prohibit trade in counterfeit goods ...". Sounds very noble from the superficial perspective, until you interrogate it further and establish that the bill was financed by the Investment Climate Facility (ICF) for Africa. ICF is a project of development partners (Germany, Ireland, Nertherlands, United Kingdom etc) some of whom have big multinational corporations trading in pharmaceuticals threatened by generic drug producers. While WHO has recognized that both generic and brand-named drugs can be counterfeited, generic drugs have no IP rights.The design of the anti-counterfeit act could be to lock out such products without IP rights. Practically what the act would do is stifle access to generic drugs especially for the many living with HIV/AIDS in East Africa who cannot afford original drugs produced by Pfizer, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Server etc. The ordinary East African is obviously oblivious of such possibilities.

    2. that is intriguing. considering such possibilities makes it imperative for your questions to be answered, post haste! though i doubt the eac laws and protocols could supersede what the individual nations have in place as laws,that is a bulwark to some extent, i think.

  2. As long as individual nations within the EAC cannot make autonomous decisions due to donor conditions, the decisions necessary to push the integration to light will be sluggish, or stalled. Most donors are capitalists, but drive in socialist vehicles, and would want a share of the resources (and market for their products) being discovered in the EA region hence the stampede. Keeping donor influence at bay, the goodwill for integration among the leaders of the region is not sufficient; a political environment that accelerates or abates corruption would be preferable to the current crop of leaders in the region, integration would minimise the vice, I think.

  3. Hydro-carbons.

    **The End**

  4. Very valid arguments right there!
    Unfortunately for us in EAC, and indeed the rest of the continent, our purses are not loaded enough to foot the integration bills.
    Remember, whoever pays the piper calls the tune!

    1. Why are people so obsessed about integration when they arent willing to fund it in the first place?

  5. Interesting data. Question is: why has the secretariat relied so heavily on ODA?