Somalia is soon going to join Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the other four EAC Member Countries to become the eighth partner state of the East African Community.
Democratic Republic of Congo, which got admitted in 2022, is currently the newest East African member.
Before DR Congo, it was South Sudan, which used to be EAC’s new baby. Juba is also the world’s youngest country.
Rwanda and Burundi joined the East African Community in 2007.
Founding members, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania revived the Community in November 1999.
The three countries started the East African Community in 1967 before it collapsed ten years later in 1977. The EAC would again be revived 22 years later.
The outgoing chairperson for the Summit of the East African Heads of State, Uhuru Kenyatta, affirmed that soon Somalia will be joining the EAC fold.
The Kenyan Head of State made the remark in Arusha during the ceremony to officially launch two road sections constructed under the auspices of the EAC.
The Tanzanian President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, the Ugandan Head of State, Yoweri Museveni, the Burundian Leader Évariste Ndayishimiye and the Kenyan President participated in the inauguration of the Sakina-Tengeru road stretch, as well as the Arusha By-pass highway, in Ngaramtoni area of Arusha City.
“Apart from peace and tranquility, the second most important factor in the development of our community is strong and well-developed infrastructure,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He added that, the sections of the road being inaugurated were part of the more ambitious Arusha-Holili-Voi expressway which will also extend to Mombasa.
“And eventually across the border to as far as Somalia and we are glad that soon the country will also join us in the East African Community,” Kenyatta added as he bid Arusha farewell, on that he is retiring from the Ikulu of Nairobi in three weeks’ time.
The new President of Somali, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was also in attendance, having previously participated in the High-Level Retreat for the Summit of the East African Heads of State also held in Arusha to take stock of the 11 years of the East African Community Market Protocol.
During that Summit Meeting President Mohamoud revealed that, it was always in Somali interest to be part of the East African Community and the country could have joined the EAC much earlier were it not for some internal conflicts in Mogadishu.
“But now we have solved most of our problems and we may start re-considering our application to join the East African Community,” said President Mahmoud, pointing out there are Somali people in Kenya and Tanzania who have blood relations to the people in Mogadishu.
Besides, Somalia has always been described internationally as ‘East African Country’ when not addressed as the ‘Horn of Africa!’
As for the roads being inaugurated, the Arusha Bypass measuring 42.4 km circumnavigate the Northern Tanzania City and forms an expressway link connecting Kenya and Tanzania from Arusha all the way to Holili.
The multinational 230 Kilometers long Arusha – Holili -Taveta – Voi Road Project, co-funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Africa Trade Fund and the Governments of Tanzania and Kenya to the tune of USD 173.86 million.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan expressed concern over the ongoing vandalism targeting road infrastructures.
“These projects cost billions of money and it is the responsibility of each one of us to jealously protect them as they are important components to our development and wellbeing,” she stated.
The other section of the road is the 14 kilometers long Sakina-Tengeru part of the Arusha (Tanzania) to Athi-River (Kenya) via Namanga highway, measuring 272 Kilometers.