Nairobi (Caasimada Online) – High-level talks aimed at Somalia’s potential integration into the East African Community (EAC) are in their final stages.
Held at the Kenya School of Government in Nairobi, these nine-day negotiations involve representatives from the EAC Secretariat, the East African Legislative Assembly, the East African Court of Justice, and their Somali counterparts.
“Incorporating Somalia into the EAC is not just another tick on the agenda; it’s about enhancing our collective wealth and security,” says Cabinet Secretary for East African Community Rebecca Miano.
She emphasized that the negotiation complies with directives from the 22nd Extraordinary Summit and falls within the legal framework governing the EAC.
Importance of Somalia’s entry
Somalia’s Minister for Planning, Mohamud Farah, framed his country’s possible admission as an opportunity to elevate the EAC’s overall integration efforts.
“Our entry doesn’t just symbolize unity; it’s a practical way to address the Horn of Africa’s security challenges and bring tangible benefits such as expanded markets and investment,” he said.
He also pointed out Somalia’s unique offerings: a youthful population, abundant natural resources, and untapped agricultural potential. “We’re not just beneficiaries; we are contributors. Our integration would be mutually beneficial,” Farah added.
Rebecca Miano, Cabinet Secretary for the East African Community, cited economic imperatives as a driving force for the talks.
“The EAC aims for a vibrant, expanded bloc that actively trades both internally and with external partners. Somalia’s inclusion can act as a catalyst for private-sector growth, marking a significant milestone in our collective journey,” she said.
She also noted the EAC’s existing engagement in Somalia, where partner states have committed troops to the African Union Mission.
“The people of East Africa are eager to welcome their Somali brothers and sisters into the community. It’s a continuation of our peace-building initiatives,” Miano highlighted.
The logistics of integration
According to EAC Secretary-General Dr. Peter Mathuki, the negotiations will cover various topics, from political and legal issues to social sectors and economic and trade affairs.
“Our objective is to present a well-thought-out report to the next summit,” he stated, adding that the summit’s heads of state would then decide on Somalia’s admission.
Mathuki was particularly optimistic about leveraging Somalia’s blue economy, specifically its extensive 3,000-kilometer coastline linking Africa to the Arabian Peninsula.
“This is not just a coastal advantage; it’s an economic multiplier for the entire EAC, potentially uplifting the lives of East Africans through increased trade and fishing opportunities,” he noted.
What is next?
Mr. Tiri Marie Rose leads the EAC verification mission from Burundi. At the same time, Dr. Adbusalam Omer serves as the Lead Negotiator for Somalia.
Also present were other Somali dignitaries, including the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Abdisalam Sharif.
While the outcomes of these discussions are yet to be finalized, both sides have expressed optimism.
“We want to ensure that both parties understand the benefits, obligations, and commitments under the treaty,” Mathuki said, affirming that the goal is a mutually beneficial partnership.
The stakes are high, but the optimism is palpable. As leaders from both sides converge on the details, the broader East African community watches closely.
A favorable decision could be pivotal for regional integration, economic advancement, and long-lasting peace.