Negotiations between the East African Community (EAC) and the Federal Republic of Somalia to welcome Somalia into the EAC commenced in Kenya’s capital Nairobi on Tuesday. The nine-day negotiations have brought together experts from the seven EAC Partner States, the EAC Secretariat, the East African Legislative Assembly, the East African Court of Justice, and their counterparts from the Federal Republic of Somalia.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Community, ASALs (Arid and Semi-Arid Lands), and Regional Development, Rebecca Miano, inaugurated the negotiations at the Kenya School of Government in Nairobi. She noted that the negotiations followed the directive of the 22nd Extraordinary Summit and the legal framework of the Community.
The discussions will focus on various areas including Political, Legal, and Institutional matters; Infrastructure, Productive, and Social Sectors; and Economic and Trade Affairs. Miano highlighted the goal of a robust and expanded bloc that enhances trade within itself and with other regions, aiming to generate wealth and prosperity for the people.
Notably, EAC Partner States already contribute to peace and security in Somalia through their involvement in the African Union Mission in Somalia. The expansion of the community with Somalia’s inclusion is eagerly anticipated by the people of East Africa. Somalia’s Minister for Planning, Hon. Mohamud Abdirahman Sheikh Farah, expressed enthusiasm for Somalia’s integration into the EAC. He noted the potential of this step to elevate East Africa’s integration and address security challenges in the Horn of Africa.
He emphasized the benefits of access to a broader market for goods, improved infrastructure, and investment opportunities. Somalia’s entrance into the EAC could also stimulate the blue economy, given its extensive coastline. Dr. Peter Mathuki, EAC Secretary General, highlighted how Somalia’s coastline can contribute to the region’s economic development through ventures like the exploitation of marine resources.
During the negotiations, the EAC Team aimed to present the benefits, obligations, and commitments of Partner States under the Treaty to the Somali delegation. The negotiations would also clarify matters identified during the verifications exercise.
Ultimately, the Heads of State would make a decision regarding Somalia’s admission into the EAC based on the outcomes of these discussions. The prospect of Somalia’s extensive coastline promises to strengthen intra-regional trade and cooperation between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.