NAIROBI – The negotiations to consider the admission of Somalia to the East African Community concluded in Nairobi on Thursday.
EAC in a social media post said the report of the negotiations will be submitted to the EAC Council of Ministers for consideration before the Summit makes the final decision on admission of Somalia into the Community.
The negotiations, which were launched on August 22, sought provide clarifications to the EAC and Somalia on matters that were identified during the verifications exercise that started in January 2023.
The EAC- Somalia negotiations also focused among others political, legal and institutional clusters, as well as infrastructure, productive and social sectors; and economic and trade affairs.
“During the negotiations this week, the EAC team will highlight to the Somali delegation, benefits, obligations and commitments of partner states under the treaty which will be the basis for the negotiations in good faith by both teams,” EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki said during the launch.
Dr Mathuki added that joining the EAC would enable Somalia to benefit from the community’s regional infrastructure projects such as roads, railways and energy networks.
“These projects aim to improve connectivity and ultimately supporting Somalia’s economic development,” he said.
On her part, Kenya’s EAC Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano said the regional bloc looks forward to an expanded trade within itself as well as with other blocs.
“This, primarily, is because we intend to create wealth and prosperity for our people,” Miano said.
The verification mission was tasked with assessing Somalia’s readiness to join the Community. The objective of the verification team comprising of experts from the EAC partner states was 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.
Article 3 of the EAC Treaty provides that the criteria for the admission of new countries into the community shall include: Acceptance of the community as set out in the Treaty; adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice.
The 21st EAC Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State Summit in Bujumbura, Burundi, adopted the verification report and directed the Council of Ministers and EAC Secretariat to commence the negotiations with Somalia and report to the next Summit.
The 22nd Ordinary Summit directed the Council to expeditiously fast-track the verification and report to the 23rd Ordinary Summit.
Somalia made its first application to join the EAC in 2012 and when admitted, it will be the eight member after Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, DRC and Tanzania.
It has, however, faced various hurdles in the process largely due to its insecurity and governance challenges.
Somalia’s political landscape is still weak due to many years of conflict since the collapse of the state in 1991.
As a result, worsened by terrorism, Somalia’s government still grapples with ineffectiveness in various sectors, creating a challenge for the country in meeting the EAC’s political admission criteria, such as maintaining peace, stability, and good governance.