Somalia officially became the eighth member of the East African Community (EAC) on Nov. 24, 2023, a move aimed at boosting regional trade.
EAC leaders made the decision during the 23rd ordinary summit of heads of state in Arusha, Tanzania.
- The EAC is one of Africa’s most integrated regional economic communities, with a well-developed customs union and common market.
- The East African Community (EAC) member states include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Somalia.
- According to reports, Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye announced Somalia’s admission during a closed-door meeting of over five hours.
- President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, referred to the accession as a “beacon of light” for the country.
- According to him, this will extend the bloc’s reach to an additional 17 million people and acquire more than 3,000 kilometers of coastline, opening substantial economic opportunities.
President Mohamud said:
“Our journey to this day has been one of resilience, perseverance, and unduly belief in the power of regional unity and operation as Somalia joins the East African community. We are not merely entering a regional bloc, but we are joining a family of nations.”
Why it matters
- Although Somalia submitted its application in 2012, it took 11 years to grant its request due to lingering security concerns. These concerns continue to challenge the country’s stability and economic development.
- Somalia has been battling an insurgency by al-Shabaab militants since 2006, while the breakaway region of Somaliland in the north seeks full autonomy.
- Some officials have expressed concerns that Somalia’s cross-border movement associated with EAC integration could facilitate the movement of militants and contraband within the region.
- Kenya abandoned its plans to reopen its border with the country this year due to an increase in attacks in northern Kenya by suspected al-Shabab fighters.