International Cooperation and Development

East Africa

East African countries have made considerable progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but still face important challenges in key areas. EU development cooperation with East Africa is complex and combines national, regional, and thematic programmes, which allow us to best tailor our support to our partners’ development priorities.

East Africa is composed of 9 countries, most of which have made progress towards sustainable development. Several East African countries experience continuous GDP growth, high levels of entrepreneurship, and steady foreign direct investment flows fuelling, among others, the development of mobile payment systems and the creation of organic product delivery networks.

Considerable challenges remain however, especially when it comes to reducing poverty and inequalities, ensuring decent jobs and food security, building resilience to climate change, enforcing the rule of law, and fighting violent extremism. These are all grounds for many to leave their country or even the region, as indicated by the unprecedented numbers of forced displaced people and migrants for this region.

Our cooperation work in East Africa is framed by the EU strategic framework for the Horn of Africa (2011) and regional action plan (2015), complemented by the Valletta Summit on migration’s political declaration and action plan (2015).

We cooperate at different levels with our East African partners and our actions in the region are mainly funded by the EU budget and the 11 th European Development Fund, through different methods like budget support or investment mechanisms. Additionally, the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa finances actions to promote stability and address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement.

In East Africa, we address cross-regional issues in 3 priority areas:

  • regional management of natural resources
  • regional economic integration
  • peace and security

Moreover, we support the development of regional infrastructure, such as roads, sustainable energy and water infrastructure, and information and communications networks.

Our programmes

Our cooperation with East Africa derives from different types of programmes, the combination of which allow us to optimise our support, in line with our development effectiveness approach.

At regional level, our development cooperation in East Africa entails mainly:

  • the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, Indian Ocean (EA-SA-IO) regional indicative programme
  • the Pan-African programme
  • thematic programmes, including the ‘Global public goods and challenges’ programme, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), and the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP)

At the wider level of the EA-SA-IO region, East African countries are members of one or more key regional organisations, that benefit from our support:

  • the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) including 6 East African countries – Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda
  • the East African Community (EAC) including 3 East African countries – Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda
  • the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) covering all East African countries except Tanzania (Eritrea suspended its membership in 2007)

EU development cooperation also involves bilateral cooperation with partner countries. Our national country programmes address specific national challenges and priorities, commonly agreed on in a spirit of partnership, ownership, and mutual responsibility, and in line with the Cotonou agreement.

More information on our bilateral partnerships in East Africa is available via the below section ‘Countries in the region’.