In a significant development, Somalia has officially become the eighth member of the East African Community (EAC), marking a historic moment for the war-torn nation. The decision was approved during the 23rd ordinary summit of EAC heads of state held in Arusha, Tanzania. The move comes a year after the Democratic Republic of Congo was admitted to the regional bloc.
The approval follows months of negotiations and discussions, signaling a new era for Somalia’s economic and political landscape. Authorities in Mogadishu, along with the business community, anticipate that this integration will provide a much-needed boost to Somalia’s recovering economy.
President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi, the outgoing chairperson, announced the formal admission of Somalia into the EAC after an extensive closed-door meeting among regional leaders. This decision is seen as a positive step toward regional stability and cooperation.
Somalia had initially expressed its desire to join the EAC in 2012 but faced challenges due to internal conflicts, particularly with the presence of the militant group Al-Shabaab. Renewed efforts to join the bloc began with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s return to power. A verification mission in January assessed Somalia’s readiness for EAC membership.
Negotiations between Somali officials and EAC representatives took place in August, leading to the drafting of a report presented to the council of ministers for further deliberation. The heads of state summit’s approval now opens the door for Somalia’s neighboring countries, Eritrea and Djibouti, to potentially join the EAC in the future.
The EAC common market, established in 2010, currently includes Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. With the admission of Somalia, the EAC comprises nearly 300 million people, fostering economic integration and cooperation in the East African region.
This move is expected to have a transformative impact on Somalia’s economic recovery and regional collaboration, offering new opportunities for growth and development.