Somalia Joins East African Community as 8th Member

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Somalia Joins East African Community as 8th Member

The East African Community (EAC) Somalia has officially admitted Somalia as its eighth Partner State, marking a significant advance in regional cooper

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The East African Community (EAC) Somalia has officially admitted Somalia as its eighth Partner State, marking a significant advance in regional cooperation.

The official deposition of Somalia’s instrument of ratification of the Treaty of Accession at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, concludes the admission process, as outlined in EAC procedures.

During the ceremony, Somalia’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Jibril Abdirashid Haji Abdi, presented the country’s ratification instrument to the EAC Secretary General, Peter Mathuki.

“The roadmap will detail how the Federal Republic of Somalia will implement various EAC Commitments such as the Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union and Political Federation,” said Dr. Mathuki.

Representatives from Somalia and the EAC institutions attended the ceremony, which emphasised the shared commitment to creating a more integrated and prosperous East Africa.

This step concludes the accession process by officially recognising Somalia as a full member of the Community.

Dr. Mathuki emphasised Somalia’s role in shaping the EAC’s future, highlighting the country’s commitment to regional integration principles and objectives.

The application process, started by former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in 2011, had been long and arduous with some member states allegedly hesitant to bring Somalia into the fold.

The process finally yielded fruit last year after the current president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, appointed a special envoy to accelerate the admission process not long after he came into office in August 2022 for a second time.

Mohamud, who was also president from 2012 to 2017, was a key backer of regional integration during his first term.

“We are a significant country in the region which can contribute a lot, and we will also benefit from them,” Mohamud said as he landed in Mogadishu after an EAC summit in Arusha, Tanzania, where Somalia was admitted into the bloc on Friday, November 29th, 2023.

The president said Somalia’s membership will also benefit EAC members Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.

Critics of the move said the admission of Somalia, a country of more than 17 million people and a long history of conflict, could introduce security challenges for the bloc, which now has a combined population of more than 300 million people, or a fourth of Africa’s population.

However, experts argued that Somalia has taken significant strides in its fight against the armed group al-Shabab and point to security challenges in other EAC members such as the DRC, where at least 120 armed groups are fighting in its volatile east, and South Sudan, which has been in and out of a civil war since before its independence.

Critics of the move said the admission of Somalia, a country of more than 17 million people and a long history of conflict, could introduce security challenges for the bloc, which now has a combined population of more than 300 million people, or a fourth of Africa’s population.

However, experts argued that Somalia has taken significant strides in its fight against the armed group al-Shabab and point to security challenges in other EAC members such as the DRC, where at least 120 armed groups are fighting in its volatile east, and South Sudan, which has been in and out of a civil war since before its independence.

Still, analysts said, Somalia, which has Africa’s longest coastline and an estimated two million citizens in the diaspora, is ripe for economic integration with its neighbours.

“I think EAC countries also see Somalia’s … successful investments by Somalis in EAC countries,” Mohamed Abdi Waare, political analyst and a former president of Somalia’s Hirshabelle state, told Al Jazeera. “They also see its vast blue economic potential in its long coastline, the opportunities to participate in the reconstruction of Somalia and to leverage Somalia links with its diaspora, its links with the Middle East and its strategic location.”

“With massive natural resources, the rebuilding and reconstruction boom after the defeat of al-Shabab, Somalia will provide an excellent opportunity for regional investment in its blue economy, its infrastructural rehabilitation and its real estate and construction industries,” he added.

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