Boost for Somalia as EAC membership bid progresses

Nairobi (Caasimada Online) – Somalia’s dream of joining the East African Community (EAC) has been given fresh momentum as EAC member states adopted a verification report that bolsters Somalia’s bid for membership.

The 21st extraordinary Heads of State summit chaired by Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye featured the development and provided the conflict-torn nation a beacon of hope.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has been instrumental in pushing for Somalia’s inclusion into the EAC, a quest he first initiated during his term from 2012 to 2017.

This was in conjunction with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which gained admission last year.

The membership bid came to the forefront again when President Mohamud attended the 22nd Ordinary East Africa Community Heads of State Summit in July of the previous year, reiterating, “I am here to make a formal bid for Somalia to join the East African Community.”

Implications of the verification report

The adoption of the verification report means that the EAC Secretariat and Council have been directed to initiate negotiations with Somalia and present a report at the next Ordinary Summit, where a final decision on the matter will be taken.

This information is captured in a communiqué signed by all member states.

Responding to the EAC’s decision, Somalia recognized the development as a significant milestone, stating that it is fully prepared to join the EAC.

The Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a statement highlighting that Somalia’s membership will significantly enrich the EAC sister countries and contribute to regional integration and prosperity.

“Somalia expresses its gratitude and appreciation to the heads of state and General Secretariat of the EAC for the communiqué that was made public and reaffirms its determination and desire to engage in productive negotiations that would hasten the EAC’s confirmation of its membership and formal admission,” the statement reads.

Criteria for Membership

Membership in the EAC is guided by the 1999 Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, which stipulates adherence to universal principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and civil liberties, among other things.

A verification team comprising senior officials from the seven member states visited Somalia in January to assess the nation’s preparedness for membership.

The team’s mandate involved evaluating institutional and legal frameworks, policies, strategies, projects, programs, areas of cooperation with other EAC Partner States, and expectations from its membership.

The Council of the Ministers’ Summit approved the report during its 43rd ordinary session in Burundi in February.

EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki underscored the potential benefits of Somalia’s membership.

He emphasized that the EAC could exploit Somalia’s coastline, the longest in Africa at 3,200 kilometers, to enhance trade.

Mathuki also acknowledged the growth in intra-EAC trade due to political goodwill among member states, reporting a surge to Sh1.2 trillion (US$10 billion) from US$7.1 billion in 2019.