Somalia’s entry into the East African Community, EAC bloc has been deferred for one year pending verification and preparations, the regional bloc leaders said Wednesday.
In a communiqué Wednesday, EAC heads of states meeting in Arusha Tanzania for the 17th ordinary heads of states summit noted that verification exercise for Somalia had not been undertaken.
The Summit however directed the EAC council of ministers to undertake the verification exercise and report to the 18th Summit which will be convened early 2017.
South Sudan, the world’s newest state was during the summit admitted to the EAC expanding the bloc to 6 countries 16 years since its formation. Somalia submitted its application for EAC membership in March 2012 while South Sudan did the same immediately after its independence in 2011.
Before South Sudan’s entry Wednesday, the EAC was home to 145.5 million citizens, of which 22% is urban population. The bloc also had a land area of 1.82 million square kilometres and a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$ 147.5 billion (EAC Statistics for 2015).
South Sudan has an estimated population of 11.3 million based on 2013 census and its entry into the EAC will create and even bigger market and further movement of capital and human resources. It has a land mass of 619,745 km²
During the Summit, the leaders also launched the EAC international electronic passport which is expected to come into use by January 2017.
Electronic passports provide travellers with benefits such as use of automated border clearance or “E-gates”, automated issuance of boarding passes, and faster travel arrangements with airlines.
The work of the EAC is guided by its Treaty which established the Community. It was signed on 30 November 1999 and entered into force on 7 July 2000 following its ratification by the original three Partner States – Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Burundi acceded to the EAC Treaty on 18 June 2007 and became full Members of the Community with effect from 1 July 2007.