GOOBJOOG NEWS | ARUSHA: East African Community member heads of state are convening in Arusha, Tanzania for the 23rd ordinary summit with Somalia’s bid to join the bloc expected to form part of the agenda.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud arrived in Tanzania Thursday to bolster the country’s bid to join the regional bloc a move which will boost the country’s economic and social development.
Somalia has been pushing to have it admitted into the regional bloc for close to a decade now but various challenges key among them insecurity brought about by the Al-shabaab militants derailed the plan.
However, President Mohamud heads to the summit at a time when Somalia has made significant progress and achievements in restoring peace, security and governance, and also abundant natural resources and economic opportunities that can benefit the region.
Somalia got a glimmer of hope when a verification report was adopted by the heads of the state during the 21st Extra-Ordinary Summit in Bujumbura, Burundi, on February 4.
During the meeting, it was resolved that a report be tabled during the next (23rd) ordinary meeting where a final verdict will be issued.
“EAC heads of state deliberated and adopted the report and directed the EAC Secretariat and Council to commence negotiations with Somalia immediately and report to the next Ordinary Summit,” a communiqué signed by all the member states reads.
It was further agreed that the process be fast-tracked to on-board the country.
The report is from a mission team from the seven-nation bloc comprising DRC, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda who travelled to Somalia early this year to assess the country.
EAC secretary general Peter Mathuki said in a past meeting in Nairobi that the entry of Somalia will massively boost the EAC’s geographical reach, boost its efforts to improve its multilateral and fiscal standing, and the exploitation of Somalia’s blue economy resources such as fish will boost the regional economy.
The EAC, which was established in 2000, comprises Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
It aims to create a common market, a customs union, a monetary union and ultimately a political federation and has a combined population of about 177 million people and a gross domestic product of about $193 billion.