The Horn Of Africa States: What Population Of Somalia Doesn’t Understand About The EAC – OpEd


The East Arica Community was first recreated on November 30th, 1999, in Arusha, Tanzania and entered and became effective on July 7th, 2000, following the ratifications by the governments of the member countries then and deposit of the  Instruments of Ratification with the Secretary General of the EAC. Only the original three countries of the East Africa Community of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, were members then. Members are referred to as the Partner States. The EAC originally collapsed in 1977 when Kenya then asked for more seats in the decision-making organs of the community and disagreements and differing economic models primarily between Kenya and Tanzania got in the way.

The East African Community (EAC) formed a Customs Union, which allows for free trade within the Community and common tariffs for external trade in 2005.  It then moved on to a Common Market status with free movement of goods, services, and labor in 2010.  The ultimate goal of the EAC is to create a full federation, which basically is a new country that would have a single government and common foreign and security policies. The EAC currently consists of seven countries that have all ratified and are full members of the Community. They include the original countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and newer members like South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and the DR Congo. It is a vast territory of some 5.2 million square kilometers and an estimated population of some 300 million people i.e., market.

In the coming ordinary meeting of the EAC planned for November 23-24, 2023, the EAC is expected to move onto a confederal state, which is expected to unify the region’s security and foreign policies before forming a central governing body to be set up in Arusha, Tanzania.  The EAC is to complete the formation of a common Monetary Union with a single currency by 2024, in the hope this would create a major African country, without realizing that the central authority to be created could be manipulated like anything African by outside forces from beyond the continent.

So far, the EAC has remained an elitist organization run and managed by governments of the Partner States, and the citizens of the region, the 300 million people have not been consulted through referenda. No one knows if this would be carried out or if carried out if the citizens of the region would ratify it.

Perhaps the only good thing about the EAC is that it is the home of the Kiswahili world, which most of the citizens of the region speak. The Community also introduced in 2018 a machine-readable e-passport to replace the national passports of the Partner States. This had already boosted the ease of travel within the Community.

The EAC claims to be people centered but this is not true for the people of the region have yet been consulted. It claims it would primarily work for the benefit of the citizens of the region but so far this has not been demonstrated by any factual activity or actions of the organization. It remains a club of the governments of the region and those who support it. Most citizens of the region do not even know of the planned East Africa Federation, their future country.

The current leadership of Somalia is pushing to become a member of that EAC, which it hardly understands, and which the current citizens of the Partner States do not even know much about and/or their future country, the East Africa Federation, and where to date, they remain uninformed and perhaps unconvinced of its benefits. 

The Partner States of the EAC are sovereign nations today, each with a modicum of control over its territory, enjoying a national constitution and legal frameworks and fallback on judicial instruments and courts. The integration of the Partner States, as noted earlier rests on four key factors, namely, a Customs Union, a Common Market, a Monetary Union and eventually a Political federation. The first to has already been achieved and there is a fairly effective integration although there are still many pitfalls. The third pillar of Monetary Union is to be completed in 2024, while the Political federation is to start with a confederal state to be passed within thin this month of November 2023.  Swahili has already been chosen as the lingua Franca of the new country under formation and the seven countries of partner States are already advanced in several respects including trade, infrastructural integration and movement of people. 

Somalia is not a Swahili-speaking country and remains a fragile country, not fully in control of its total territory, let alone have infrastructures and other pillars of a robust integrated economy within itself, let alone with others. However, there seems to be other forces at play and Somalia seems to being pushed into the EAC without the necessary protocols of any normal organization. It appears, therefore, that there is a hidden agenda. What could be this hidden agenda?

Despite the seemingly advanced nature of the community into an integral unit, it is not self-sufficient in many areas such as food security, where countries like the DR Congo, Rwanda and even Tanzania, import more than half of their food requirements from the warring countries of Russia and Ukraine. The Eastern regions of the DR Congo also remains as volatile as it was and the diplomatic rifts between some of the countries continues such as political rifts between Rwanda and DR Congo and/or Rwanda and Uganda and the continual slow-burning economic and political rifts between Kenya and Tanzania.

The EAC which plans to become Africa’s largest country and the fourth largest in the world through the political federation of the current seven-member partner States appears only to be a trap for these countries with one single governing body and bureaucracy that can be easily controlled from one place, Arusha, Tanzania, the expected capital of the East Africa Federation. None of the populations of the seven countries appears to have been consulted yet and an elitist group keeps pushing the frontiers. How it would succeed remains to be seen.

It is perhaps time all Somalis across the board, both within Somalia and outside, with one uproar, said “NO” to the machinations of the present federal government of the country, which seems to have lost its ability to think properly on matters of such serious magnitude and aftereffects, thereof.

It is fairly known that Somalia is currently described as a failed, corrupt and a confused state. Who would allow such a state into its fold? That is what most Somalis should think of seriously before the blunder is committed and it is just about ten days away. We are on the countdown.

Dr. Suleiman Walhad

Dr. Suleiman Walhad writes on the Horn of Africa economies and politics. He can be reached at [email protected].

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