Somalia has officially become the eighth member of the East African Community (EAC), marking a significant development in the regional trade bloc. The announcement was made during a summit in Tanzania by the outgoing EAC chair, Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye.
The EAC, founded in 2000, is dedicated to promoting trade by eliminating customs duties among its member states. It achieved a major milestone in 2010 with the establishment of a common market. Somalia’s admission to the bloc adds a crucial player to the existing membership, which includes Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
This expansion brings the EAC market to over 300 million people, enhancing the potential for economic collaboration and growth within the region. Additionally, Somalia, with its lengthy coastline, contributes over 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) of shoreline to the bloc, extending from the Atlantic through the Indian Ocean up to the Gulf of Aden.
However, the move comes amid challenges for Somalia, particularly its ongoing struggle against the Al-Shabaab insurgency. The security concerns associated with the insurgency pose additional complexities for the EAC as it welcomes Somalia into the fold. Despite these challenges, the admission of Somalia signifies a notable step forward in regional cooperation and economic integration within East Africa.