Somalia has taken a significant step toward becoming the eighth member of the East African Community (EAC), according to Peter Mathuki, secretary-general of the organization.
The EAC chief claimed Mogadishu had reached the negotiating stage during a news conference on Wednesday in Arusha, Tanzania. He also expressed optimism that Somalia will be admitted to the group this year.
The Somalia admission is one of the main topics on the agenda of a number of meetings that will take place in Nairobi.
“The EAC conducted a verification mission to assess the readiness of Somalia to join the bloc and the report was deliberated on and shared with all partner states. Negotiations for admitting it will begin on the 22nd of this month to the 5th of September,” Dr. Mathuki said.
In order to determine Somalia’s suitability, the EAC initiated a verification mission on January 25, 2023, after it submitted an application to join the Community back in 2012.
The report of the verification team was approved by the EAC Heads of State on June 6, 2023, in Bujumbura, allowing the Council of Ministers and the EAC Secretariat to start talks with Mogadishu.
According to Dr. Abdusalam Omer, the current Presidential Special Envoy to the East African Community and a former minister of foreign affairs for Somalia, the discussions would cover all of the EAC’s integration pillars while contrasting them with Somalia’s regulations and laws.
“This will also include setting the time frame for Somalia to implement and harmonize the laws with that of the region,” Dr. Abdusalam said.
He added, “The way forward for Africa and East Africa is the regional integration and opening up markets, as this will help lower the cost of products. Integration is the nemesis of the new type of terrorism, and, with regional integration and cooperation, terrorism will be defeated.”
With a coastline of more than 3,000 kilometers connecting Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, and Kenya share a border.
“There are a lot of Somalia hopes to gain but also the region has a lot to gain from Somalia because of its connectivity to the Middle East as well as the diaspora in Europe, America, and everywhere,” he said.
Abdullah Ibrahim, a Nairobi-based government consultant for Somalia, was a member of the group that assisted the EAC verification team in Somalia at the beginning of the year.
The Council of Ministers will review the negotiating report from the EAC Secretariat, and the Council of Ministers will then present the report to the Heads of State Summit later this year.
The East African Community will welcome Somalia as its eighth member state when the Summit adopts the report and issues a political statement. Prior to being admitted, Somalia must first ratify the accession agreement by signing it, after which Mogadishu must lodge the necessary ratification documents with the EAC Secretariat.