Somalia joins Community of East African States

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Somalia officially joined the Community of East African States (EAC) on Friday, the regional organisation with a single market allowing the free movement of goods and people announced.

The EAC, which has its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, now comprises 8 countries, including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The DRC was the last member to join the regional organisation, in 2022.

The member countries have “decided to admit the Federal Republic of Somalia under the accession treaty”, declared Burundian Head of State Évariste Ndayishimiye, outgoing President of the EAC.

The announcement was made from Arusha in the presence of Somali President Hassan Cheikh Mohamoud, who expressed his “deep gratitude”.

“This moment is not just the culmination of an aspiration, but a glimmer of hope for a future full of possibilities and opportunities”, he said.

Founded in 2000, one of the aims of the EAC is to facilitate cross-border trade by abolishing customs duties between its member states. It established a common market in 2010.

Excluding Somalia, the EAC countries cover an area of 4.8 million square kilometres and have a combined gross domestic product of 305 billion dollars, according to the organisation’s website.

With a population of some 17 million, Somalia has the longest coastline on the African continent (more than 3,000 km), bringing the EAC’s potential market to more than 300 million people.

The Somali government, supported by the international community, has been fighting the insurgency of the radical, a group affiliated with al-Qaeda, for over 16 years.

Kenya and Uganda are contributing troops to an African Union force deployed in Somalia to fight the rebels.

Somalia’s entry into the EAC is “a decisive step in the bloc’s expansion into East Africa”, notes the Mogadishu-based Heritage Institute for Policy Studies think-tank, but points to “Somalia’s poor record on governance, human rights and the rule of law” which could hamper its integration into the bloc.

Africanews/Hauwa M.