Thousands of wildebeest wind through the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, Aug. 3, 2002. More than a million wildebeest annually cross the border between Tanzania and Kenya. (Pedro Ugarte/Getty Images)
Credit: Pedro Ugarte

Five east African countries have taken the first steps towards establishing a common currency.

At a meeting in Kampala, Uganda, the presidents of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda said they would adopt a single currency within the next 10 years. The five countries are part of the East African Community (EAC) regional economic bloc, formed in 2000.

On Saturday, the countries agreed to set up a monetary union modeled after the eurozone and open a single customs union by 2014.

More from GlobalPost: East Africans step up plans for their own “euro”

The single currency is designed to attract investors by reducing transaction costs associated with changing money.

"In a monetary union, the absence of currency risk provides a greater incentive to trade," Kenneth Kitariko, chief executive officer at African Alliance Uganda, an investment advisory firm, told Reuters.

“The promise of economic development and prosperity hinges on our integration," Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the new chairman of the EAC, said. "Businesses will find more freedom to trade and invest more widely, and foreign investors will find additional, irresistible reasons to pitch tent in our region.”

It took the European Union seven years to introduce the euro after it announced it would adopt a single currency.

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