Mogadishu(Mogadishu24)-Somalia has officially been admitted to the East African Community, becoming the 8th member of the regional bloc alongside Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan.

The EAC Heads of States unanimously supported Somalia’s full entry into the bloc at the 23rd Ordinary Summit held in Arusha, Tanzania, on Friday.

“The Summit considered the report on the negotiations for the admission of the Federal Republic of Somalia into the East African Community, and decided to admit the Federal Republic of Somalia as a full member of the East African Community,” reads the Joint communique of the EAC leaders.

Somalia’s Journey to Join the East African Community

Somalia started the process of joining the EAC community in 2012 during President Hassan’s first term. This year marks 11 years of dedication, commitment, and a tedious journey to join the EAC.

After President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s re-election in 2022, the federal government prioritized its pursuit to join the EAC community.

In July this year, a report on Somalia’s application to join the East African Community was adopted at the 21st Extraordinary Summit held in Bujumbura, Burundi, following a 6-month-long verification process. 

In August, a nine-day meeting between Somalia and experts from the seven EAC Partner States, the EAC Secretariat, East African Legislative Assembly, and East African Court of Justice held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Somalia’s acceptance into the regional bloc was achieved through negotiations and verification processes chaired by Mrs. Tiri Marie Rose from the Republic of Burundi. Dr. Abdisalam Omar, Special Envoy of Somalia, served as the lead negotiator for Somalia throughout the processes.

Global Applause: International Partners and Regional leaders commend Somalia’s EAC’s membership

Somalia’s admission into the regional bloc has been welcomed by both international partners and regional leaders, highlighting its positive impacts on regional development and economic growth.

“Somalia has been admitted to the East Africa Community. It is a significant step towards improving peace and prosperity. As Somalia’s debt relief champion, Britain is looking forward to seeing the positive impact of this on the economy and regional integration,” the UK in Somalia stated.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni congratulated President Hassan Sheikh for his persistent efforts to work on Somalia’s quest to join the bloc.

“I congratulate President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia upon joining the EAC as its eighth member,” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said.

The United Nations in Somalia has congratulated the federal government of Somalia and its people, stating that it promotes regional integration.

“The UN in Somalia congratulates the Somali government and people on their country officially becoming a member of the East African Community (@jumuiya) today – another milestone in Somalia’s return to its rightful place in the international community and engagement with its neighbors,” the United Nations in Somalia said.

Potential Opportunities

Somalia’s entry into the EAC would play a vital role in Somalia’s state-building efforts, economic growth, trade partnerships, infrastructural development, regional peace, and security, promoting intergovernmental relations and maritime access.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud urged the Somali people to be prepared for engagement with a community of 300 million people from the countries of the East African Community, which now includes eight countries following Somalia’s accession.

“Let the Somali people be prepared to engage with a community of 300 million individuals. This market spans from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea; otherwise, we stand to miss out on the benefits,” President Hassan said.

He added, “Our membership in the regional bloc will give us opportunities to expand our market, considering our natural resources, including the maritime economy, as well as giving other countries the opportunity to benefit from our resources.”

In a statement, the Kenyan Presidency (Statehouse) underscored the importance of Somalia’s membership in the region, considering access to the blue economy through the longest coastline in Africa.

“Somalia’s entry into the Community presents an opportunity to the region to further integrate, expanding opportunities to the people. The move will boost connectivity, enhance trade and accelerate Somalia’s transformation plan,” reads the statement from the Kenyan presidency.

EAC’s Contribution to Somalia’s Peace and State-building Efforts

Somalia, once a stable government with military power, peaceful and secure, collapsed in 1991, leading to civil war.

This resulted in the formation of terrorist groups and tribal functions and widespread destruction of essential government institutions that served the nation.

Over the past three decades, Somalia has been taking necessary efforts aimed at rebuilding a stable government and revitalizing its government institutions such as defense, security, and finance.

Since 2006, Somalia has been grappling with security threats posed by Al-Shabaab terrorist that became a threat not only to Somalia but its neighbouring countries.

The Federal government has already enjoyed the positive contribution of the regional bloc and the African Union in its peacekeeping mission through the African Union Mission in Somalia (now ATMIS) for the past 15 years with the approval of the UN Security Council.

The East African Community provided the majority of the troops in ATMIS, with its member states such as Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi among the troop-contributing countries.

Somalia has recently increased its regional presence by actively engaging in regional affairs and pursuing membership in regional blocs.

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

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