Putting Lessons Learnt to the Test During Challenging Times: The East African Community And The Covid-19 Pandemic

Publication Date: 
Publication Place: 
Publication Language: 
UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
Series Title: 
UNU-CRIS Working Papers
Working Paper Type: 

The East African Community (EAC) celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2020. Overshadowing and bringing the joyous occasion to a halt, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic only depicts the most recent and challenging crisis for the regional organization (RO). This paper discusses how and in what ways the current EAC has implemented mechanisms in its institutional design which can be traced to lessons learnt from its past; that is the first EAC (1967-1977). It uses the concept of transnational diffusion to analyse the impact of the first EAC on the current one and highlights which shortcomings still prevail and come to light – especially – during times of crises. Focusing on four aspects of institutional design, the article points to the most vulnerable aspects of the RO and puts them in the context of the rough patch that the EAC is going through. Here, the Covid-19 pandemic functions as a magnifying glass for the greater underlying problems.

Covid-19 Pandemic, Diffusion, East African Community, Regionalism