Somalia’s inclusion in the EAC is multifaceted

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  • Economically, Somalia stands to gain from increased trade opportunities, access to a larger market, and the potential for foreign investment.

Somalia’s Integration into the EAC is a catalyst for Economic Development, Security Cooperation, and Regional Unity. The East African Community traces its roots back to the early 1960s when the East African Common Services Organisation laid the groundwork for regional cooperation.  However, it was in 1967 that Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda officially established the East African Community with the signing of the Treaty for East African Cooperation.

The initial vision was to create a customs union and a common market, fostering economic integration and shared development goals. Over the years, the EAC has evolved, facing challenges such as political differences and the dissolution of the community in 1977.

Nevertheless, the commitment to regional cooperation prevailed, leading to the re-establishment of the EAC in 2000. The revitalised community expanded its membership, reflecting a renewed dedication to creating a prosperous, stable, and integrated East Africa.
The prospect of welcoming Somalia into the EAC is a momentous occasion that holds great promise for the region’s economic development, peace, and unity. As the EAC expands its membership, it reinforces the commitment to fostering collaboration and mutual growth among member states.

 With Somalia joining the EAC, there is optimism that the country will benefit from the collective momentum of the community and expedite its development process. Economically, Somalia stands to gain from increased trade opportunities, access to a larger market, and the potential for foreign investment. The EAC’s common market principles and customs union will facilitate smoother cross-border trade, contributing to Somalia’s economic rejuvenation. Moreover, the sharing of knowledge and best practices within the EAC can aid in addressing specific challenges that Somalia faces in sectors such as agriculture, technology, and infrastructure.

The implications extend beyond economics, as joining the community can play a pivotal role in enhancing peace and security in Somalia. The collaborative efforts of EAC member states have previously contributed to peacekeeping missions and diplomatic interventions in the region. By integrating Somalia into this framework, the community can provide a platform for dialogue, conflict resolution, and the establishment of sustainable peace. The shared commitment to security within the EAC will undoubtedly create a more stable environment for Somalia’s growth.

Despite Uganda playing a crucial role in supporting the Federal Government of Somalia in terms of security, it also supports Somalia economically even when transporting cargo from Uganda to Somalia and vice versa is still high given that there are no open routes for water transport and the cargo airlines are limited, Somalia offers a vast range of investment and trade opportunities with Uganda, especially in agriculture and agro-processing, manufacturing especially building materials, and trade-in dairy products, tobacco and Khat among others.

The Ugandan government’s commitment to Somalia’s development is evident through its participation in peacekeeping missions under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and bilateral economic cooperation. This longstanding partnership has laid the foundation for a strong bond between the two nations, which will be further reinforced with Somalia’s formal entry into the EAC.

As the East African Community has journeyed from its reestablishment to the present day, remarkable achievements have been realized. The Community has successfully implemented a customs union, promoting the free movement of goods within the region and reducing trade barriers. The establishment of a common market has further facilitated the movement of people and capital, fostering economic opportunities and collaboration.

Moreover, the community has made significant strides in areas such as infrastructure development, health, and education. The achievements of the community are a testament to the collective determination of member states to overcome challenges and work toward a shared vision of a harmonious and prosperous East Africa.

The author, Mr  Bishop Samuel, Head of Communication and Media Relations
Ministry of East African Community Affairs Uganda