Income Convergence in the East African Community
MetadataShow full item record
The East African Community partner states aim to establish a Monetary Union by 2023. As advanced by the optimum currency area theory, countries seeking to enter into a monetary union should be as similar as possible to reduce their susceptibility to adverse economic shocks. The East African Monetary Union Protocol signed in 2013 stresses the need for convergence of macroeconomic variables as important preconditions before forming the monetary union. The benchmark macroeconomic indicators include a headline inflation rate of eight per cent, a fiscal deficit of three per cent of the country’s gross domestic product on net present value terms, a debt to gross domestic product ratio of 50 per cent and maintenance of a 4.5 months’ reserves of import cover. Article 82 (1) of the East African Community Treaty also compels partner states to work towards harmonizing their macro-economic policies especially those related to interest and exchange rates, fiscal and monetary policies. However, as argued by many scholars, nominal convergence alone cannot indicate how well countries will perform once they are in a monetary union. The criteria also fail to distinguish the countries that constitute an optimal currency area. An autoregressive distributed model was applied in regression analysis. Empirical findings supported the presence of conditional convergence and that per capita gross domestic product growth was positively influenced by physical capital and nominal exchange rate depreciation and negatively affected by human capital and inflation rate. From the foregoing, it can be concluded that reduction of income differences among the partner states can be fostered through increased investments in physical capital, maintenance of a competitive exchange rate regime and a low inflation rate regime.