The Federal Republic of Somalia may soon become the eighth member of the East African Community (EAC) following the commencement of talks in Nairobi on its admissibility.

The nine-day negotiations that began on Tuesday have brought together experts from the seven EAC Partner States, the Secretariat, East African Legislative Assembly and East African Court of Justice, and their counterparts from the Federal Republic of Somalia.

The negotiations between the regional bloc and Somalia are being held in accordance with a directive by the 22nd Extraordinary Summit to the Secretariat and the Council to commence talks with Mogadishu.

Members of the EAC and Somalia team that are taking part on the talks. (Photo EAC).
Members of the EAC and Somalia team that are taking part on the talks. (Photo EAC).

“The negotiations are expected to focus on, among others, Political, Legal and Institutional; Infrastructure, Productive and Social Sectors; and Economic and Trade Affairs,” said Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Community Rebecca Miano.

Ms Miano said the EAC was keen on an expanded and vibrant bloc, with high volumes of trade within itself as well as with other business blocs.

This, primarily, is because we intend to create wealth and prosperity for our people. A big and expanded market that the admission of Somalia will usher in will be a major boost for the private sector, itself a great milestone in the integration process, she said.

Somalia’s Minister for Planning Mohamud Abdirahman Sheikh Farah, said the entry of Somalia into the EAC would be an excellent opportunity to take the integration process in East Africa to a new level.

Mr Farah said Somalia being part of the bloc would help to address the security challenges in the Horn of Africa, adding that the country’s entry into EAC would come with many benefits including a bigger market for goods produced in the region, improved infrastructure and investment opportunities.

EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki said that joining the community would enable Somalia to benefit from the EAC’s regional infrastructure projects such as roads, railways, and energy networks.

“These projects aim to improve connectivity, enhance transportation links, and boost regional trade, ultimately supporting Somalia’s economic development and integration,” said Mr Mathuki.

“Somalia has the longest national coastline of over 3,000 kilometres in the continent, linking Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, which the region can tap into to increase intra-regional trade and improve the lives of East Africans,” he added.

Mr Mathuki said that during the negotiations this week, the EAC team would highlight to the Somali delegation, the benefits, obligations and commitments of Partner States under the Treaty which will be the basis for the negotiations in good faith by both teams.

Once the talks are concluded, the team will hand over the report to the Heads of State, who would then make a decision on whether to admit Somalia into the Community.