Somalia Hopes To Join East African Community – OpEd
The East African Community (EAC) is currently reviewing and assessing the Republic of Somalia’s institutional and legal frameworks to determine its readiness to become a member of the regional bloc. The EAC is a regional intergovernmental organization of seven African countries.
The team of experts reviewing the institutional capabilities and necessary legal requirements and areas of cooperation are representatives from the seven member countries. It has the primary responsibility to establish the country’s level of conformity with the criteria for admitting foreign countries as provided in the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC.
The team will also review the status of Somalia in international law and establish the country’s readiness to join the EAC Customs Union, Common Market Protocol, Monetary Union and ongoing political confederation Constitutional Framework. Somalia shares borders with one EAC Partner State, namely Kenya, and has strong historical, linguistic, economic and socio-cultural links with all the EAC Partner States.
Abdulsalam Omer, Special Envoy of the President of Somalia to the EAC, reaffirmed President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s call for quick admission. “Somalia will benefit significantly through the increased movement of goods, services and people across the bloc in addition to expanding intra-regional trade.” he said at the meeting.
EAC membership would also boost Somalia’s efforts to improve its multilateral and fiscal standing. Somalia is in the middle of an IMF programme which has disbursed $393.2m to date, and this year hopes to complete the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries global debt forgiveness process, which could reduce debts to $550m from $5.2bn.
As well as amplifying the voice of its member states on a global level, the EAC offers a crucial regional forum for working collaboratively on Somalia’s challenges, from the food and climate crises it faces to its security challenges.
It also brings Somalia closer to a range of benefits including membership of the common market and customs territory, and perhaps even a single currency. Ultimately, EAC membership will send an important signal that Somalia’s concerns are those of East Africa at large.
EAC officially launches the Verification Mission to assess Somalia’s readiness to join the Community on 25th January, 2023.
Speaking during the official launch, EAC Secretary General, Dr. Peter Mathuki disclosed that the technical team in Mogadishu will engage Somalia to ensure that the verification was finalized and a report completed in time in readiness for presentation to the EAC Council of Ministers who will table it for consideration by the 23rd Summit of EAC Heads of State scheduled for the end of February 2023.
“The verification team is set to make findings relating to the institutional frameworks in place; legal frameworks; policies, strategies, projects and programmes; areas of cooperation with other EAC Partner States and expectations from membership,” he said.
According to him, the team will assess Somalia’s development strategies and plans in key areas of collaboration including infrastructure, energy, education and science, peace and security, and international cooperation. “Somalia has the longest national coastline of over 3,000 kms in Africa, linking Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, which the region will tap into to increase intra-regional trade,” he added.
In addition, Somalia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abshir Omar expressed enthusiasm for the team set to assess Somalia’s readiness to join the bloc, saying that Somalia will benefit greatly because of the free movement of people from Somalia and other countries without a visa, if they are fully in the EAC.
“Somalis are already present in the East African region. The Somalis started integrating with their brothers and sisters of the region way before the request of formalizing the decision of joining the EAC,” he explained.
Somalia will become the 8th member of the EAC. It submitted the application to join the EAC in 2012, but the matter has been pending due to various reasons, according to official reports. The EAC verification mission is being chaired by Mrs. Tiri Marie Rose from the Republic of Burundi.
The criteria for admission include adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice, potential contribution to the strengthening of integration within the East African region, and geographical proximity and the final collective decision of the East African Community (EAC) Partner States.