East African Community begins talks on Somalia's membership

East African Community begins talks on Somalia's membership

Somalia sees EAC as gateway to vast market and solution to security concerns

By Andrew Wasike

NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - The East African Community (EAC) initiated discussions Tuesday in the Kenyan capital Nairobi with the aim of admitting Somalia into the regional bloc.

Speaking at the main campus of the Kenya School of Government in Lower Kabete, Nairobi, Rebecca Miano, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development, said the bloc is poised to benefit more from Somalia's membership.

"We intend to create wealth and prosperity for our people. A big and expanded market that the admission of Somalia will usher in will be a major boost for the private sector, itself a great milestone in the integration process," Miano said.

Miano expressed the EAC’s anticipation for Somalia's forthcoming inclusion within the regional alliance.

“The Community is already contributing to peace and security in Somalia, with Partner States providing troops as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia. The people of the rest of East Africa are eager to welcome their brothers and sisters from Somalia into the Community,” she added.

Set to span nine days, the negotiations in Nairobi will delve into key clusters such as political, legal and institutional aspects alongside infrastructure and productive and social sectors as well as economic and trade affairs.

Regarding the EAC as a gateway to an extensive market and a potential resolution for security issues, Somalia's Minister for Planning Mohamud Abdirahman Sheikh Farah hailed the opportunity for elevated integration in East Africa. He also stressed that Somalia's membership could contribute to addressing security challenges in the Horn of Africa.

Highlighting the significance of Somalia's coastline, EAC Secretary-General Peter Mathuki said "Somalia has the longest national coastline of over 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) in Africa, linking the continent to the Arabian Peninsula. This presents an opportunity to increase intra-regional trade and improve the lives of East Africans."

The EAC bloc's population reached 312 million in 2022.

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