Nairobi(Mogadishu24)-The Federal Government of Somalia is just a few steps away from joining the East African Community (EAC) as nine days of negotiations between the leaders of EAC member States and a team from Somalia began in Nairobi on Tuesday.

The leaders include experts from the seven (7) EAC Partner States, the EAC Secretariat, members of the East African Legislative Assembly and East African Court of Justice, and representatives from Somalia.

During the opening of the negotiations, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Community, ASALs, and Regional Development, Hon. Rebecca Miano expressed that the East African Community (EAC) is determined to achieve an expanded and vibrant bloc, with high trade volumes both internally and with other regional blocs.

“This, primarily, is because we intend to create wealth and prosperity for our people. A big and expanded market that the admission of Somalia will usher in will be a major boost for the private sector, itself a great milestone in the integration process,” said the CS.

“The Community is already contributing to peace and security in Somalia with Partner States providing troops as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia. The people of the rest of East Africa are eager to welcome their brothers and sisters from Somalia into the community,” she added.

Somalia’s Minister for Planning, Hon. Mohamud Abdirahman Beenebeene stated that Somalia’s entry into the EAC would play a crucial role in addressing security challenges in the Horn of Africa.

He also highlighted that it would transform the East African market into a larger market for regionally produced goods, thus promoting developments such as improved infrastructure and investment opportunities.

“Somalia’s admission will expand current EAC market size, geographical coverage, diversity and inclusive/sustainable growth for all partner states as Somalia gains immeasurable gains once admitted,” said Mr Abdirahman Beenebeene, Somalia’s Minister of Planning.

EAC Secretary General Hon (Dr.) Peter Mathuki pointed out that Somalia’s coastline would enhance intra-regional trade and support Somalia’s economic growth.

“These projects aim to improve connectivity, enhance transportation links, and boost regional trade, ultimately supporting Somalia’s economic development and integration,” said Dr. Mathuki.

“With Somalia’s longest national coastline of over 3000km in Africa, linking the continent to the Arabian Peninsula, the region can tap into this potential to increase intra-regional trade and improve the lives of East Africans,” he added.

He stated that the EAC delegation will engage in discussions with representatives from Somalia about the potential benefits, obligations, and commitments of the East African States. A report will be submitted for the next Summit, during which the heads of member States will make a decision on admitting Somalia into the community.

The EAC verification process is being chaired by Mrs. Tiri Marie Rose from the Republic of Burundi, while Dr. Adbusalam Omer, Special Envoy of Somalia, serves as the Lead Negotiator for Somalia.

Despite challenges such as the threat posed by Al-Shabaab, Somalia is currently demonstrating a growing regional presence by actively engaging in regional affairs and pursuing membership in regional blocs.

Earlier, the Federal Government of Somalia had officially joined the Great Green Wall Initiative with a launching event held in Mogadishu.

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