The East African Community (EAC) this week officially launched the verification mission to assess Somalia’s readiness to join the regional bloc.
A team of experts from the partner states will be in Somalia from January 25 to February 3, 2023.
The team will, among other roles, seek to establish the country’s level of conformity with the criteria for admitting countries as provided in the Treaty establishing the EAC.
Speaking during the official launch on Wednesday, EAC Secretary-General Peter Mathuki disclosed that the technical team in Mogadishu will prepare a report to be presented to the EAC Council of Ministers for consideration before forwarding it for decision at the 23rd Summit of EAC Heads of State scheduled for the end of February.
“The verification team is set to make findings relating to the institutional frameworks in place, legal frameworks, policies, strategies, projects and programmes, areas of cooperation with other EAC partner states and expectations from membership,” he said.
The team will assess Somalia’s development strategies and plans in key areas of collaboration, including infrastructure, energy, education and science, peace and security, and international cooperation.
“Somalia has the longest national coastline of over 3,000km in Africa, linking Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, which the region will tap into to increase intra-regional trade,” said Dr Mathuki.
The team will also review the status of Somalia in international law and establish the country’s readiness to join the EAC Customs Union, Common Market Protocol, Monetary Union and ongoing political confederation constitutional framework.
When admitted, Somalia will join the seven-member bloc, becoming the eight partner states.
EAC states are Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the latest entrant the Democratic Republic of Congo, which joined in April last year.
Somalia had applied to join the bloc two times before, but the Community never sent a team of experts to the country to determine if it qualified for membership.
Last July, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud attended the 22nd Ordinary East Africa Community Heads of State Summit where he made another bid to join EAC.
”I am here to make a formal bid for Somalia to join the East African Community,” Mohamud said.
The leader had initiated the bid during his first term between 2012 and 2017 together with DRC but members declined due to war and disorder in the Horn of Africa nation.
Somalia’s accession to the EAC could take up to two years with the final decision on admission resting with the Summit of the bloc’s Heads of State.
The Summit considers admission upon satisfying all the conditions under Articles 3 and 4 of the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC.
Article 3 which spells out the membership of the community sets the admission criteria to include an applicant’s acceptance of the Community as set out in this Treaty and adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice.
Other requirements include potential contribution to the strengthening of integration within the East African region; geographical proximity to and inter-dependence between it and the Partner States; establishment and maintenance of a market-driven economy; and social and economic policies being compatible with those of the Community.