Somali Magazine 31 Aug 2023- Somalia is likely to become the East African Community’s (EAC) newest member state, over 11 years after Mogadishu initially asked for admission.
It has already taken an important stride forward in the discussions and is likely to become the bloc’s eighth member after the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which formally joined in April 2022.
Already, discussions for Somalia’s admission began in August 2022 and will conclude on September 5.
According to Dr Abdusalam Omer, the Special Envoy of the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia to the EAC, the ultimate decision on Somalia’s accession to the EAC lies with the Heads of State Summit set for November.
The nine-day negotiations brought together specialists from the seven EAC partner nations, the EAC secretariat, the East African Legislative Assembly, the East African Court of Justice, and their Federal Republic of Somalia counterparts.
The move would greatly expand the EAC’s geographical reach, as well as Somalia’s attempts to enhance its multilateral and fiscal position. Additionally, the exploitation of Somalia’s blue economy resources, like as fish, will benefit the regional economy.
The EAC is already helping to Somalia’s peace and security through member nations such as Kenya, Uganda, and Burundi, with partner governments deploying soldiers as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Despite rare strikes by the terrorist group Al Shabaab, the operation has mostly kept the country quiet.
“The potential admission of Somalia into the East African Community represents a significant opportunity to strengthen ties, build bridges, and forge a future of shared prosperity,” stated Dr. Omer.
In late January of this year, a delegation from the DRC, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda flew to Somalia to examine the country’s readiness.
Later, the team assessed Somalia’s institutional and legislative frameworks, as well as its policies, plans, and programmes, as well as its areas of collaboration with the EAC.
According to Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the greater movement of products, services, and people throughout the bloc, as well as the expansion of intra-regional commerce, will benefit the country tremendously.
Somalia, with a population of 17 million people, is in the middle of an IMF programme that has so far disbursed over USD 400 million, and intends to finish the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries global debt forgiveness procedure this year.
Locals are also expected to confront significant levels of severe food insecurity, with hundreds of thousands more facing famine.
A severe drought, the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, Somalia’s sensitivity to climate shocks, and the threat of terrorism all compound the issue.
According to EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki, Somalia’s membership would allow it to benefit from the EAC’s regional infrastructure projects including as roads, railroads, and electricity networks.
“These projects aim to improve connectivity, enhance transport links, and boost regional trade, ultimately supporting Somalia’s economic development and integration,” he explained.
The EAC membership provides an important regional venue for collaborating on Somalia’s difficulties and developing solutions with its authorities.
The longest coastline
Because the bloc intends to complete the implementation of a unified customs territory by 2026, there will be free movement of products, people, labour, services, and money. A unified regional currency is also being considered. “Somalia has the longest national coastline in Africa, stretching over 3000 kilometres and connecting Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, which the region can use to boost intra-regional trade and improve the lives of East Africans,” Mathuki said in Nairobi.
Rebecca Miano, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Community, ASALs, and Regional Development, stated that the talks are taking place in compliance with a direction issued by the 22nd Extraordinary Summit to the Secretariat and the Council to begin talks with Somalia.
Dr. Abdusalam Omer, Special Envoy of the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia to the EAC.