The East African bloc includes the six countries of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Over the past two years, Uganda and Rwanda have cut bilateral relations, and Rwanda closed its borders in March 2019. The countries accuse each other of harboring elements intending to destabilize national security. Mediation efforts were called off when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. Recently, Uganda announced it would not allow Ugandans to travel to Rwanda, a move that surprised many who had anticipated the normalization of relations in the near future. Rwanda has reported the defection of an active military officer to the Ugandan army. Meanwhile, according to The Observer, a Ugandan media outlet, on August 11 Uganda accused seven of its active security officers of sharing secret intelligence with Rwanda. Given the ongoing quarrels, the much-anticipated opening of the border for trade will need to wait a little longer.

To add fuel to the regional fire, Burundi’s relations with Rwanda have also been tumultuous, with the Burundi government accusing Rwanda of supporting rebels trying to organize a coup to topple the late president Nkurunziza. At the same time, the Rwandan government is accusing Burundi of protecting the terrorist Force Democratic de Liberation du Rwanda, or FDLR. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda recently said that Rwanda is ready to normalize relations with Burundi’s new president, Evariste Ndayishimiye. However, Ndayishimiye has declined the offer, demanding that organizers of the coup first be turned over to face justice.

Meanwhile, the relatively stable Kenya and Tanzania are trading tit-for-tats as they cautiously open their economies, with Al Jazeera reporting that Kenya had not listed Tanzanian citizens among those able to fly into Kenya, and Tanzania in turn banning Kenyan Airways from flying into Dar es Salaam.

In recent years, the East African Community bloc has touted a common market, a single currency, open borders, and big infrastructure projects like the Standard Gauge Railway. But with feuds continuing between Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi, the future of the organization appears unpredictable. In 2019, Tanzania recorded growth of 7%, making the country among the fastest-growing economies in Africa. By jumping up to the lower-middle income ranking, Tanzania joins Kenya as one of only two East African countries to have achieved lower-middle income ranking.

Tanzania aims to achieve middle-income ranking by 2025, which would indicate a competitive economy capable of sustainable growth; high-quality jobs; peace, stability, unity, and good governance; and a well-educated society.

Hassan Abbasi also stressed that the reinforcement of ethics in government, the implementation of flagship projects, and investment in human development helped the country earn the upgraded status.