Somalia is on the verge of becoming the East African Community’s (EAC) eighth member, with a decision expected at the Ordinary Heads of State Summit scheduled for November 23-24 in Arusha.
EAC Secretary-General Peter Mathuki expressed optimism about Somalia’s accession during a panel discussion at the Africa Investment Forum in Marrakech, Morocco, on November 9. He stated that the EAC’s presidents are anticipated to support Somalia’s admission during the upcoming summit.
“This November, we are likely to admit Somalia into the Community,” Mathuki declared. “The coastline of the East African Community will stretch almost 500,000 kilometers.”
With Somalia’s inclusion, the EAC’s market will expand to encompass nearly 300 million people. The bloc, which currently comprises Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, aims to encompass the entire Horn of Africa.
Mathuki further revealed that Ethiopia has also expressed interest in joining the EAC, paving the way for a potential market of close to 700 million people.
The panel discussion, which included leaders of the Southern African Development Community, Ecowas, Comesa, EAC, and Comesa, focused on the overarching goal of integrating Africa.
Mathuki emphasized the crucial role of the private sector in driving intraregional trade and integration. He noted that the EAC’s intra-regional trade has grown from less than 10% to nearly 20% over the past decade, highlighting the bloc’s people-centered approach.
Panelists underscored the significance of transport corridors in unifying Africa and accelerating the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Burundian Minister of Infrastructure Dieudonne Dukundane pointed to the transformative potential of the standard gauge railway connecting the port of Dar es Salaam to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Upon completion, the railway is expected to save Burundi approximately $70 million in transportation costs and facilitate the exploitation of the region’s rich mineral resources.