Somalia has joined the East African Community (EAC) in a move intended to boost economic growth in the country following three decades of war.
The EAC, which has its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, now comprises 8 countries, including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The DRC was the last member to join the regional organisation, in 2022.
The member countries have “decided to admit the Federal Republic of Somalia under the accession treaty”, declared Burundian Head of State Évariste Ndayishimiye, outgoing President of the EAC.
The announcement was made from Arusha in the presence of Somali President Hassan Cheikh Mohamoud, who expressed his “deep gratitude”.
“This moment is not just the culmination of an aspiration, but a glimmer of hope for a future full of possibilities and opportunities”, he said.
Founded in 2000, one of the aims of the EAC is to facilitate cross-border trade by abolishing customs duties between its member states. It established a common market in 2010.
Excluding Somalia, the EAC countries cover an area of 4.8 million square kilometres and have a combined gross domestic product of 305 billion dollars, according to the organisation’s website.
With a population of some 17 million, Somalia has the longest coastline on the African continent (more than 3,000 km), bringing the EAC’s potential market to more than 300 million people.