Somalia’s potential accession to EAC may occur by December, says secretariat

Somalia's Potential Accession To Eac May Occur By December, Says Secretariat
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Date: Wednesday, August 23, 2023

The East African Community (EAC) has announced that Somalia may finally become a member by the end of this year, putting an end to over a decade of waiting. Negotiations have begun in Nairobi, with the EAC Heads of States emphasizing the need for an expedited process.

This milestone follows a thorough assessment of Somalia’s readiness to join the EAC. Between January and February, experts from member states visited Mogadishu to evaluate the country’s adherence to the criteria outlined in the EAC’s establishment treaty. They scrutinized Somalia’s development strategies in various areas of collaboration, such as infrastructure, energy, education, science, peace and security, and international cooperation. The team also examined the country’s institutional frameworks, legal regulations, policies, and expectations for membership.

The onboarding process gained momentum during the Heads of State Extra-Ordinary Summit in Bujumbura, Burundi, where member states collectively decided to accelerate Somalia’s integration. Now, negotiations are underway with the goal of reaching a conclusion by the end of November, just before the next Heads of States Summit. Ultimately, a report will be submitted to the Council of Ministers, leading up to the Summit scheduled for November 30, when Somalia is expected to officially join the EAC.

While agriculture, livestock rearing, forestry, and fishing continue to drive Somalia’s economy, the nation aims to revive its manufacturing sector, construction industry, aviation industry, telecommunications and media sector, and financial sector. In fact, the Somalia Stock Exchange signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kenya’s Nairobi Securities Exchange last year, seeking assistance in technical development to establish sharia-compliant sukuk bonds and halal equities.

With a GDP of Sh1.1 trillion, Somalia aspires to become the sixth-largest economy in the EAC, following Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda. Somalia’s extensive coastline positions it as a major fish supplier in the region, and it is believed to possess significant oil deposits. Furthermore, the country’s blue economy resources, combined with its 3,300-kilometer coastline (the longest in Africa), have the potential to bring substantial benefits to the EAC.

In 2022, the value of trade between Somalia and neighboring Kenya reached Sh99.2 billion, although it was slightly lower than the previous year. Somalia’s initial application to join the EAC was submitted in 2012, and it received approval from the Heads of States Summit in 2013. However, the process faced obstacles due to political instability within the country.

According to the EAC’s establishment treaty, new members are admitted if they uphold democracy, the rule of law, accountability, transparency, and social justice. Minister of Planning, Investment, and Economic Development of Somalia, Mohamud Abdirahman, expressed confidence in Somalia’s readiness and highlighted the political goodwill from both Somalia and the entire EAC region. He also described the Somali community as “entrepreneurial” and predicted significant contributions to the EAC’s growth.

Kenya’s EAC Cabinet Secretary, Rebecca Miano, discussed the vast opportunities in trade, human capital, and political stability that Somalia’s membership would bring. She emphasized the importance of building a strong foundation as the EAC prepares to enter the African Continental Free Trade Area, which would expand the bloc’s market population to over 317 million people.

In 2022, the EAC’s total trade value with other markets reached $74.1 billion (Sh10.7 trillion), with intra-EAC trade growing significantly to $10.9 billion (Sh1.5 trillion). These figures highlight the region’s potential as a strategic trading bloc and further underscore the importance of Somalia’s integration into the EAC.