East African Federation

The East African Federation (Swahili: Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki) is a proposed political union of the six sovereign states of the East African Community – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda – as a single federated sovereign state.[4] In September 2018, a committee was formed to begin the process of drafting a regional constitution,[5] and a draft constitution for the confederation is set to be written by the end of 2021, with its implementation by 2023.[6]

East African Federation
Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki
Nine horizontal strips coloured (from top to bottom): blue, white, black, green, yellow, green, red, white, then blue. The logo of the EAC is placed in the centre.
Motto: "One People One Destiny"
Anthem: "EAC Anthem"
An orthographic projection of the world, highlighting the proposed East African Federation's territory (green).
An orthographic projection of the world, highlighting the proposed East African Federation's territory (green).
Largest cityDar es Salaam
Official languagesEnglish[1]
Lingua francaSwahili[1]
Demonym(s)East African
TypeProposed federation
7 July 2000
• Total
2,467,202 km2 (952,592 sq mi) (10th)
• Water (%)
• 2019 estimate
183,625,246 [2] (8th)
• Density
68.4/km2 (177.2/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2020 estimate
• Total
US$ 602.584 billion [3] (34th)
• Per capita
US$ 3,286
GDP (nominal)2020 estimate
• Total
US$ 220.783 billion (50th)
• Per capita
US$ 1,184.87
HDI (2019)0.540
CurrencyEast African Shilling (EAS[citation needed])
Time zoneUTC+2 / +3 (CAT / EAT)
Driving sideboth


At 2,467,202 km2 (952,592 sq mi), the East African Federation (EAF) would be the largest country in Africa and 10th-largest in the world. With a population of 183,625,246 as of 2019, it would also be the second most populous nation in Africa (after Nigeria) and eighth in the world.[2] Its population would be greater than that of Russia, Japan and Mexico, and roughly half that of the United States.[2]

Swahili has been proposed as an official lingua franca.[1] Dar es Salaam would be the most populous city in the proposed federation, by city limits, and Nairobi would have the most populous metropolitan area. The proposed capital is Arusha, a city in Tanzania close to the Kenyan border, which is also the current headquarters of the East African Community.[4]

The union's proposed currency would be the East African shilling, which according to a 2013 published report is slated to become the common currency of five of the six member countries by 2023.[7] The GDP (PPP) estimate would be US602.584 billion and be the 34th[3] largest in the world and the fourth largest in Africa, following Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa. The GDP (PPP) per capita estimate is 3,286 USD, putting the East African Federation at 156th in the world.[citation needed]


1960s proposalEdit

Proposed East African Federation in the 1960s

In the early 1960s, around the time Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda and Zanzibar were gaining independence from the United Kingdom, the political leaders of the four nations had become interested in forming a federation. Julius Nyerere even offered in 1960 to delay the imminent independence of Tanganyika (due in 1961) in order for all of the East African territories to achieve independence together as a federation.

In June 1963, Kenyan Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta met with the Tanganyikan President Julius Nyerere and Ugandan Prime Minister Milton Obote in Nairobi. The trio discussed the possibility of merging their three nations (plus Zanzibar) into a single East African Federation, declaring that this would be accomplished by the end of the year.[8] Subsequently, discussions on the planning for such a union were initiated.

Privately, Kenyatta was more reluctant regarding the arrangement and as 1964 came around the federation had not come to pass.[9] In May 1964, Kenyatta rejected a back-benchers resolution calling for speedier federation.[9] He publicly stated that talk of a federation had always been a ruse to hasten the pace of Kenyan independence from Britain, but Nyerere denied the veracity of this statement. [9] Around the same time, Obote came out against an East African Federation, instead supporting pan-African unity, partly because of domestic political pressures with the semi-autonomous kingdom of Buganda’s opposition to being in an East African federation as part of Uganda but rather as a unit in its own right.

By late 1964, the prospects for a wider East African federation had died, although Tanganyika and Zanzibar did form a union in April 1964, eventually becoming Tanzania.

2010s-2020s proposal, through the East African CommunityEdit

In the early 2010s, a federation of the current East African Community into a single state began to be discussed, with early estimates of the founding of the federation in 2013.[10] In 2010, the EAC launched its own common market within the region, with the goal of a common currency by 2013 and full political federation in 2015.[11]

South Sudan was approved for membership of the EAC in March 2016, and acceded in September 2016. It would become the 6th member of the East African Federation.[12] It is unclear how the potential accession of South Sudan to the EAC may affect the timeline for federation or the scope thereof, but given the infrastructure problems that persist in the fledgling country since South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit cut off oil commerce with Sudan, the South has decided to invest in constructing pipelines that circumvent Sudan's, which it had been using until that time. These new pipelines would extend through Ethiopia to the ports of Djibouti, as well as to the southeast to the coast of Kenya.[13] These collaborations could increase the likelihood of South Sudan joining the East African Federation at some point.[14]

On 14 October 2013, the leaders of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi began a meeting in Kampala intending to draft a constitution for the East African Federation,[15] but by December 2014, efforts for a full political federation had been pushed back to 2016 or later.[16]

In February 2016, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni described the union as “the number one target that we should aim at”.[17] In November 2016, the EAC Council of Ministers agreed to create an East African Confederation before the East African Federation is eventually created.[18]

In September 2018, a committee of regional constitutional experts and drafters was formed to begin the process of drafting a regional constitution.[5] The committee, led by retired Ugandan Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki,[19] met for a five-day consultation meeting in Burundi from 14–18 January 2020, where it announced that a confederation constitution would be drafted by the end of 2021. Following approval of the draft by the six EAC states after a year of consultations, the East African Confederation would be established by 2023. The road map towards a full political federation will be discussed in detail at future meetings.[20][6]


Population and fertility rateEdit

2019 Population statistics of constituent states[21]
Name Population Population Growth (Annual %) TFR
Uganda 44,269,594 3.6 5.0
Kenya 52,573,973 2.3 3.5
Tanzania 58,005,463 3.0 4.9
Rwanda 12,626,950 2.6 4.0
Burundi 11,530,580 3.1 5.4
South Sudan 11,062,113 0.8 4.7
EAC as a whole 190,068,673 2.8 4.5


  Uganda: Protestant 45.1% (Anglican 32.0%, Pentecostal/Born Again/Evangelical 11.1%, Seventh-day Adventist 1.7%, Baptist .3%), Roman Catholic 39.3%, Muslim 13.7%, other 1.6%, none 0.2%. (2014 census)

  Kenya: Christian 85.5% (Protestant 33.4%, Catholic 20.6%, Evangelical 20.4%, African Instituted Churches 7%, other Christian 4.1%), Muslim 10.9%, other 1.8%, none 1.6%, don't know/no answer 0.2% (2019 census)

  Tanzania: Christian 63.1%, Muslim 34.1%, folk religion 1.1%, other 0.1%, unaffiliated 1.6% (2020 Pew research est.)

  Rwanda: Protestant 49.5% (includes Adventist 11.8% and other Protestant 37.7%), Roman Catholic 43.7%, Muslim 2%, other 0.9% (includes Jehovah's Witness), none 2.5%, unspecified 1.3% (2012 census)

  Burundi: Roman Catholic 62.1%, Protestant 23.9% (includes Adventist 2.3% and other Protestant 21.6%), Muslim 2.5%, other 3.6%, unspecified 7.9% (2008 CIA est.)

  South Sudan: Christianity 60.5%, Islam 6.2%, Folk religions 32.9%, Others 0.5%. (2020 Pew research est.)[22] Note: Last conducted census is a 2008 Sudanese census. Since the data is old, CIA does not provide data on the composition of the population, and Pew does not provide projections.

  East African Community: Christianity 77.64%, Islam 17.01%, Folk religions 3.38%, Unaffiliated 1.49%, Hindus 0.13%, Others 0.01%. (2020 Pew Research est.)[23]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Olukya, Godfrey (25 October 2013). "Swahili to become East Africa's official language". Archived from the original on 28 September 2020. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "The World Factbook". cia.gov. Archived from the original on 31 July 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects". imf.org. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  4. ^ a b "One president for EA by 2010". Sundayvision.co.ug. 28 November 2004. Archived from the original on 31 October 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Ready for a United States of East Africa? The wheels are already turning". The East African.
  6. ^ a b Havyarimana, Moses (18 January 2020). "Regional experts draft confederation constitution". The EastAfrican. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  7. ^ "East African trade bloc approves monetary union deal". 30 November 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2019 – via Reuters.
  8. ^ Arnold 1974, p. 173; Assensoh 1998, p. 55; Kyle 1997, p. 58.
  9. ^ a b c Arnold 1974, p. 174.
  10. ^ Shikwati, James (14 June 2006). "The Benefits of the East Africa Federation to the Youth. The African Executive". Africanexecutive.com. The African Executive. Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  11. ^ "FACTBOX: East African common market begins". Reuters. 1 July 2010. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  12. ^ "South Sudan admitted into EAC". Daily Nation. 2 March 2016. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  13. ^ "South Sudan Oil Transit to Resume, Lamu Project will continue". GroundReport. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  14. ^ "EAC prepares to admit South Sudan". theeastafrican.co.ke. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  15. ^ Sudan Tribune (15 October 2013). "Uganda hosts meeting of experts to fast-track political federation of East Africa". SudanTribune.com. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  16. ^ "East Africa: Further Delays for the EAC Political Federation". 20 December 2014. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  17. ^ "Ahead of election, Museveni says he wants to build East African superstate #UgandaDecides". Newsweek. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  18. ^ Ubwani, Zephania (30 November 2016). "East Africa: Finally, East African Nations Agree to Disagree On Federation". The Citizen (Dar es Salaam). Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  19. ^ Ubwani, Zephania (6 May 2021). "EAC must raise $3.5m to keep confederation plan on course". The Citizen. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  20. ^ Havyarimana, Moses (11 January 2020). "Regional experts gather for federation law". The EastAfrican. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  21. ^ 2019 World Bank estimates. TFR|Growth rate|Total Population
  22. ^ Most data is derived from CIA estimates, based on national censuses conducted. Instead of naming CIA as a source, date of the conducted censuses are provided.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain. For Tanzania, CIA has relied on Pew research data, and for South Sudan the only source providing data on the religious composition is Pew's "Religious Composition by Country, 2010-2050". For Burundi, CIA estimates are relied upon.
  23. ^ Pew's "Religious Composition by Country, 2010-2050", accessible in this xlsx file. This data is not directly derived from conducted censuses or CIA estimates mentioned above. Instead, it is based totally on Pew's 2020 estimates for the number of adherents of the respective countries. Pew's estimate of the population of the union (196m) is also used instead of World Bank's.


  • Arnold, Guy (1974). Kenyatta and the Politics of Kenya. London: Dent. ISBN 0-460-07878-X.
  • Assensoh, A. B. (1998). African Political Leadership: Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah, and Julius K. Nyerere. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company. ISBN 9780894649110.
  • Kyle, Keith (1997). "The Politics of the Independence of Kenya". Contemporary British History. 11 (4): 42–65. doi:10.1080/13619469708581458.