Somalia has solidified its status as the eighth member of the East African Community (EAC), a development poised to shape the geopolitical contours of the region.
This achievement follows closely on the heels of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) entry into the bloc just over a year ago.
Mogadishu’s formal inclusion in the EAC received unanimous approval from the region’s leaders during the 23rd ordinary summit of heads of state held in Arusha, Tanzania.
The EAC now has a combined population of more than 300 million people and a land area of 2,104,210.82 Square miles.
“Somalia officially joins the East African Community, reinforcing ties and opening new doors for progress and partnership,” Daud Aweis, Somalia’s minister for information said on X.
The decision came after a protracted series of negotiations spanning nearly a year, culminating in a pivotal closed-door meeting that endured for more than five hours, according to the outgoing chairperson, Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye.
Somalia’s aspiration to join the EAC dates back to 2012, although it faced initial rejection due to internal challenges with Al Shabaab and a lack of a stable legal and political environment.
The tide turned in favor of Mogadishu when, in 2016, South Sudan, similarly beset by troubles, gained admission to the regional bloc.
The subsequent inclusion of the Democratic Republic of Congo, despite its internal conflicts, further fueled Somalia’s hopes.
The return of President Mohamud, who had spearheaded the initial attempt to join the EAC during his first term in 2012, marked a turning point.
Somalia renewed its bid to join the bloc, prompting the dispatch of a verification mission in January of the same year to assess its preparedness for membership.
Subsequent negotiations between Somali officials and EAC representatives in August paved the way for a comprehensive report. This report underwent scrutiny by the council of ministers before being presented to the heads of state summit convened on that historic Friday.
Somalia’s accession to the EAC not only solidifies its standing within the regional community but also opens the door for its neighbors, Eritrea and Djibouti.
The geopolitical landscape of the Horn of Africa undergoes a transformation with Somalia’s entry into the EAC, laying the groundwork for broader regional cooperation and diplomatic synergies.
The EAC consists of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.