Frédéric Boyenga-Bofala
The End Of The Great Lakes Crisis

The Creation of an Economic Area for the
Alliance of Great Lakes States
An imaginative, ambitious, forward-looking
and progressive scheme

It is emphatically not the case that an organisation covering the Great Lakes region could ever be beneficial or productive if it were to be merely political in nature and devoid of any economic basis. In a region like the Great Lakes, economic interdependence is a reality. Just like security, prosperity is collective and, just like peace, it is indivisible. It is obviously the security and economic and social prosperity of the peoples of the region that are my central concerns. The maintenance of peace in the Great Lakes region is inextricably linked to the progress of solidarity between our peoples.

In economic terms, the task of the Alliance would be to create a common economic area and, by progressively harmonising the economic policies of Member States, rebuild all the areas devastated by warfare. To this end, I consider that a united economy of the Member States of the Alliance that is strong and prosperous to be essential for safeguarding individual freedoms, increasing general well-being and contributing to the maintenance of peace. I believe that only close, durable cooperation between our states would restore and maintain the prosperity of the Great Lakes Region and rebuild the ruins of war.

Economic interdependence between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes states, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, would seem to be the logical result of all the relations subsisting between the peoples of our regional area. However, we must recognize that, sadly, due to the unrest, economic and trade exchanges between the countries of the region suffer from a clear lack of ambitious coordination; something which the CPGL should have provided. Strengthening these links is therefore a prerequisite for the economic development of our countries. To sum up, I think that just basic coordination of our countries' economic policies would not be enough. For this reason, we have to move beyond our existing experience. From this point of view, the creation of an effective economic area is a response to two needs: first, the need to rebuild devastated economies; and second, the need to adapt to a new post war reality by giving the countries of the future Alliance a genuine potential for growth and competitiveness.

The Alliance would have the task, by means of the establishment of a common economic area comprising a common market and later on, an economic and monetary union, of promoting the harmonious and balanced development of economic activities throughout the Alliance, continuous and balanced economic expansion, increased stability, sustainable non-inflationary growth that also respects environmental concerns, a good degree of convergence of economic performance, a high level of employment and acceptable social protection, the raising of general standards and quality of life after a decade of wars and human disasters; and finally, economic cohesion and solidarity among Member States. This commitment must be enshrined in a solemn agreement on ending the crisis in the Great Lakes.

1. A Common Market for the Alliance

To my mind, the concept of a common market for the Alliance would focus on the elimination of all trade barriers within the Alliance. This would merge all the national markets into one common market, thereby bringing about conditions as close as possible to those of a genuine internal market. The dismantling of internal borders, which serve as a symbol of the divisions and fratricidal struggles that have left our people bereaved, would be the most significant sign of a new reality, unprecedented in the history of our area.

The states of the Great Lakes Alliance would adopt as a matter of priority the full and final completion of a common market in which people, goods, services, capital circulate freely under conditions similar to those prevailing within a national territory; with the aim being to enhance the efficiency and dynamism of productive systems. Our priorities are to promote growth and increase employment, as well as to strive to bring the standard of living of our people up to the maximum average level possible.

The common market that we aim to achieve would affect every citizen of the Alliance. We would be leading a quiet revolution in the certainty that it meets a real need and a hope: an Alliance between our states and the union of our peoples, our final goal.   The creation of the common market would be complemented by a number of accompanying policies: the agricultural policy of the Alliance and close cooperation between the members of the Alliance in the joint exploitation and management of shared natural resources and assets.

But this common market of the Alliance would not come about all at once, nor in the form of a single structure, but rather, through specific, careful achievements. For this reason, it is appropriate to adopt a cautious yet determined approach; whereby specific stages must be defined, so as to avoid any brutal and harmful setbacks.