Somalia’s recent admission to the East Africa Community (EAC) marks a pivotal moment in the country’s history, opening doors to a wealth of opportunities and economic growth. With its vast untapped resources, Somalia is poised to play a significant role in the EAC’s future, contributing to regional prosperity and food security. This article explores Somalia’s potential within the EAC framework, focusing on the strategic significance of its extensive coastline along the Gulf of Aden, and how it can harness maritime resources for livestock production and agricultural development.
Agriculture and Food Security
Somalia’s agricultural potential has long been hindered by conflict and instability (FSNAU, 2023). However, with the support and expertise available within the EAC, the nation can revitalize its agricultural sector. The sharing of best practices, technology, and collaborative research can enhance productivity and ensure food security for the growing population. The EAC’s successful experiences in sustainable agriculture and agribusiness can serve as a blueprint for Somalia to harness its fertile lands and contribute to regional food self-sufficiency.
With one of the longest coastlines in Africa, Somalia possesses immense potential in the fishing industry. Joining the EAC allows for the establishment of sustainable fishing practices through cooperation with member states. Shared policies on fisheries management, the prevention of illegal fishing, and the promotion of responsible aquaculture can pave the way for a thriving Somali fishing industry. According to Glaser, Roberts and Hurlburt, (2019), illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing by foreign fishing vessels in Somali waters has been problematic for decades. However, by joining the EAC can be a valuable tool for Somalia in its fight against IUU fishing. By working together with other EAC member states, Somalia can take advantage of the EAC’s resources and expertise to improve its monitoring, surveillance, and enforcement capabilities, and to reduce the incentives for fishers to engage in IUU fishing. This not only provides a source of livelihood for coastal communities but also contributes to the region’s overall economic growth.
Somalia’s energy capacity is around 344 MW, mainly generated from imported diesel fuel (Samatar et al., 2023). However, some Electricity Service Providers have installed grid-connected solar PV systems. Somalia is undergoing political stabilization and reconstruction after years of conflict. Its economy is improving due to urbanization, population growth, technological advancement, improved security, and the return of the diaspora. Access to reliable and sustainable energy is crucial for economic development. Somalia’s untapped energy potential, including renewable sources such as wind and solar, can benefit from the EAC’s collective expertise and investment. Collaborative projects can lead to the development of efficient energy infrastructure, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and promoting environmentally friendly alternatives. This synergy can contribute to Somalia’s energy independence and support the region’s broader commitment to a green and sustainable future.
Currently mining in Somalia is primarily for production of non-metallic minerals which consist of gemstones, salt, sepiolite, gypsum and kaolin. Somalia is endowed with diverse mineral resources, including untapped reserves of oil, natural gas, and minerals. The mining sector has an immense potential, and there are countless options and opportunities to those who intend to invest in Somalia. The geological evolution of Somalia, together with abundance of mineral deposits and its diversity are pointers towards rich and massive potential destined for discoveries. Untapped and unexploited deposits include gold, anhydrite, bauxite, columbite, copper, feldspar, iron ore, kaolin, quartz, silica sand, tantalum, thorium, tin and uranium (Szczesniak, 2019). The EAC can offer technical expertise, investment opportunities, and regulatory frameworks to facilitate responsible and sustainable mining practices. By aligning with the EAC’s commitment to ethical resource extraction, Somalia can harness its mining potential to boost economic growth, create employment opportunities, and contribute to the region’s prosperity.
Somalia’s livestock products for consumption and export are Camel, Cattle, Sheep, Goat, and Fish. Despite the ban imposed by Saudi Arabia in 2000, livestock exports continue to be the largest traded commodity for Somalia (FSNAU, 2023). Somalia has a long-standing tradition of livestock farming, and its livestock exports hold significant economic potential. Joining the EAC provides a platform for enhanced regional cooperation in the livestock sector. Standardized protocols for disease control, improved transportation infrastructure, and streamlined cross-border trade mechanisms can unlock new markets for Somali livestock. This collaboration not only diversifies Somalia’s export portfolio but also strengthens the region’s position in the global livestock market.
Gulf of Aden Strategy
The Gulf of Aden, with Somalia boasting the longest coastline in Africa along this strategic waterway, presents a unique opportunity for maritime development. Collaborative efforts within the EAC can formulate a comprehensive strategy for the sustainable use of maritime resources. This includes effective management of shipping lanes, combating piracy, and leveraging the maritime environment for economic activities such as fisheries, tourism, and transport. Somalia’s strategic location can be harnessed for the mutual benefit of EAC member states, fostering economic growth and stability in the region.
Significance of Maritime Livestock Production and Agricultural Land
The Gulf of Aden’s strategic significance extends beyond traditional maritime activities. The collaboration between Somalia and the EAC can explore innovative approaches to integrate maritime resources into livestock production and agriculture. Utilizing the coastal areas for aquaculture, integrating seaweed farming, and exploring synergies between marine and terrestrial agriculture can create a sustainable and interconnected food production system. This holistic approach not only ensures food security but also promotes environmental conservation and resilience in the face of climate change.
As Somalia embarks on a journey towards stability and economic prosperity, the decision to join the East African Community emerges as a pivotal step. The collaborative framework of the EAC offers Somalia a platform to leverage its untapped potential in agriculture, fishing, energy, mining, and livestock exports. By embracing regional cooperation, sharing expertise, and aligning with the EAC’s commitment to sustainable development, Somalia can chart a course toward a brighter and more resilient future. The strategic significance of Somalia’s extensive coastline along the Gulf of Aden adds an extra layer of opportunity, making the EAC partnership a catalyst for transformative growth and prosperity in the Horn of Africa.