Arusha, Tanzania: Somalia on Friday officially became the eighth member of the East African Community (EAC) after the EAC heads of state summit endorsed its decade-long application to join the regional bloc.
The EAC leaders endorsed Somalia’s membership into the bloc during the 23rd Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State held in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha.
Somalia joins Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.
“I am overjoyed beyond expression as today we have opened a new chapter as a new member of the EAC,” said President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Mohamud thanked the EAC heads of state for the trust they extended to Somalia to approve its application to join the bloc, saying: “Let’s work together for the prosperity of the regional bloc and the world in general.”
Peter Mathuki, the EAC secretary general, said the entry of Somalia will massively boost the EAC’s geographical reach, boost its efforts to improve its multilateral and fiscal standing, and the exploitation of Somalia’s blue economy resources such as fish, boosting the regional economy.
Somalia’s entry into the Community is a product of negotiations directed by the 22nd Extraordinary Summit. It presents an opportunity to the region to further integrate, expanding opportunities to the people.
The move will boost connectivity, enhance trade and accelerate Somalia’s transformation plan. The Somalia coastline — among the longest in Africa — presents massive blue economy resources such as fish to EAC.
Besides the admission of Somalia into the bloc, the Summit also deliberated on the progress of the EAC-led Nairobi Process on Restoration of Peace and Stability in Eastern DRC.
The meeting that followed the EAC High-Level Forum on Climate Change and Food Security also saw President Salva Kiir elevated to the Chairperson of the Summit of EAC Heads of State.
He takes over from his Burundi counterpart Évariste Ndayishimiye whose tenure has come to a close.
The Summit also asked Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to expedite the conclusion of the EAC Political Confederation public consultation by mid next year.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been named as the EAC’s rapporteur.