Background Of The East Africa Region
The East Africa region of the continent of Africa first experienced foreign control and colonialization in the early 1500s by the country of Portugal after Portuguese voyager Vasco De Gama sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, making several stops in Africa, on his way to India to establish a trade route. This colonialization by the Europeans was done by the Portuguese, the British, and the Dutch who all controlled this area at different times. In approximately 1700, the Omani Arabs came in to the East Africa region and defeated the Portuguese and controlled the area for decades until the later part of the 1800s when European colonialists moved through the continent of Africa dividing and dominating the continent. Therefore, due to these colonialization efforts, Europeans had firm control over the region of East Africa. Portugal had a strong hold in the area of East Africa. The British controlled the areas of present day Uganda and Kenya which were considered to be the more fertile areas of the continent. The Germans controlled the areas of Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania, an area which the termed German East Africa. The area of East Africa did not gain its independence the beginning of the 1960s.
By the time that the East African area finally gained its independence, a great deal of British influence had been bestowed upon the area. The governments that were set up emulated that of the governments of Europe. This phenomenon had been established before the time of independence. Because of the influence of the colonial powers, the countries of the East Africa region were encouraged to form co-operatives to advance trade in the region. The type of co-operative that was formed during the early part of the 1900s was a customs union between the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Towards the middle of the 1900s, British colonialists encouraged the formation of the East African High Commission. This organization made what can be considered the first attempts at integrating the region; however, due to its connection to colonialism this organization found itself to have little effectiveness in these efforts after the region gained its independence. Subsequent efforts to establish integration in the area met challenges because the organizations were not distinct enough in operation from the imperialists that colonized the area and because colonialism had left the area in a poor economic state with struggling countries trying to stabilize local economies before they could attempt to deal with the regional economy.
Today, the countries that make up the East African Community are struggling economies, some of which have the infrastructure for success with some cooperation from neighboring states, and some like Burundi need a great deal of reform in order to become economically viable. It is important to note that valuable natural resources and well as fertile land is present in this area which can be exploited by the inhabitants of the area for economic success. In addition, tourism draws people to the area, an industry which can be used to help spur economic growth in the region along.