On Friday, it was announced that Somalia has officially become a member of the Community of East African States (EAC), a regional organization that promotes a single market allowing the free movement of goods and people.
With the inclusion of Somalia, the EAC now consists of eight countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Somalia.
The DRC was the most recent member to join in 2022. The decision to admit Somalia into the EAC was declared by Évariste Ndayishimiye, the outgoing President of the EAC, during a ceremony in Arusha, Tanzania, attended by Somali President Hassan Cheikh Mohamoud.
President Mohamoud expressed his gratitude and optimism for the future, stating that this moment represents hope and potential.
The EAC, established in 2000, aims to enhance cross-border trade by eliminating customs duties among its member states. It achieved the establishment of a common market in 2010.
Excluding Somalia, the EAC countries cover an area of 4.8 million square kilometers and have a combined gross domestic product of $305 billion.
Somalia’s entry into the EAC expands the potential market to over 300 million people, considering its population of approximately 17 million and its extensive coastline.
However, the integration of Somalia into the bloc may face challenges due to concerns about governance, human rights, and the rule of law in the country, as highlighted by the Mogadishu-based Heritage Institute for Policy Studies think-tank.
Despite these concerns, Somalia’s inclusion in the EAC marks a significant milestone in the bloc’s expansion into East Africa.