Negotiations regarding Somalia joining the Arusha-based East African Community are going on in Nairobi, Kenya.
The nine-day negotiations involve experts from the seven East Africa Partner States, the EAC Secretariat, East African Legislative Assembly and East African Court of Justice.
Also in attendance at the Main Campus of the Kenya School of Government in Nairobi are officials from the Federal Republic of Somalia.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Community and Regional Development, Rebecca Miano, said that negotiations between the EAC and Somalia take place in accordance with a directive by the 22nd Extraordinary Summit to the Secretariat.
“The negotiations are expected to focus on, among others, the following clusters: Political, Legal and Institutional; Infrastructure, Productive and Social Sectors; and Economic and Trade Affairs,” she said adding that the EAC was keen on an expanded and vibrant bloc, with high volumes of trade within itself as well as with other blocs.
“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.
Somalia’s Minister for Planning, Mohamud Abdirahman Sheikh Farah, said Somalia acceptance into the East African Community would be an opportunity to take the integration process in East Africa to a new level, adding that his country was eager to join their brothers and sisters in Africa’s fastest integrating bloc.
Farah assured that Somalia would help to address the security challenges in the Horn of Africa, adding that the country’s entry into EAC would come with many benefits including a bigger market for goods produced in the region, improved infrastructure and investment opportunities.
East African Community’s Secretary General Dr Peter Mathuki said that joining the community would enable Somalia to benefit from the EAC’s regional infrastructure projects such as roads, railways, and energy networks.
“Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa measuring over 3000 kilometers and also links the continent to the Arabian Peninsula,” Mathuki stated, adding that the shoreline would bring immense benefits for the EAC through the exploitation of blue economy resources such as fish.
Regarding Mogadishu’s entry into Arusha, Dr Mathuki explained that the Heads of State would make the final decision on whether to admit Somalia into the Community.
The EAC verification mission is chaired by Mrs. Tiri Marie Rose from the Republic of Burundi while Dr Adbusalam Omer, Special Envoy of Somalia, is the Lead Negotiator for the Federal Republic of Somalia.
Also present at the event was Somalia’s Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Hon. Abdisalam Sharif, among other dignitaries.