Why Somalia needs to join Eeast African Community (eac): Tapping the untapped potential

23, August 2022

By: Abdullahi Mohodin Hassan (Abdullahi Yabarow)

1.1 Introduction

The “East African Community (EAC) is the regional intergovernmental organisation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha”, Tanzania . The aim of EAC is creating a successful, competitive, safe, steady and diplomatically united Eastern Africa and its Mission is to widen through augmented competitiveness, value added production, trade and investments .

The states forming the EAC formed a customs union in 2005 and a common market in 2010. The process of regional integration is highly developed as shown by the encouraging advancement of the East African Customs Union and the formation of the common marketing 2010 .

1.2 Why Somalia Join EAC

Somalia has been pushing and making efforts to joining the regional bloc. Somalia attempted joining the EAC between 2012 and 2017, though the corporation denied the application initially, alluding this to the fact that Somalia had intermittent conflicts and weak institutions . However, in 2022, Somalia has renewed its interest to join the East African Community (EAC), bolstering the desire of the current administration to stabilise ties with neighbours . On top of strengthening ties with neighbouring countries like Kenya, Somalia wants to join EAC for the following reasons.

1.2.1 Free movement of Somali people within EAC Bloc

Among the major goals of EAC is to increase growth and development in economy of the partner countries making sure that there by facilitating the free movement of people and workers by adopting shared policies and procedures. As per the article 104 of the EAC Treaty, “the partner states agreed to adopt measures to achieve free movement of persons, labour and services and to ensure the enjoyment of the right of establishment and residence of their citizens within the community”. by becoming EAC member state, Somali people would enjoy the right of free movement between the members countries like Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania among others without the need of having a VISA. This would facilitate their efforts to conduct business and invest in any country within EAC bloc without obstruction. Moreover, since there is harmonisation of Labour policies, this would enable Somali people to apply for jobs within the community.

1.2.2 Access to Single Customs Territory

The single customs territory has been enforced to ensure quick and fast clearance and movement of cargo along the two corridors (Northern and Central) and the new standard gauge railway line. The SCT enforcement have witnessed the development of essential tools, the enhancement of IT systems for responding to the new environment of operations and the capability of both the public and private sectors equally improved to make sure the smooth roll-out of the single customs territory (SCT). SCT entails inter-connectivity of customs systems for facilitating seamless information flow between stations of customs and a system of payment for managing revenue transfers between partner countries of EAC. Becoming a member state, Somalia would have full access to single customs territory which would enable them to reduce time and cost of transportation of goods from their port in Mogadishu to various ports within the region like that of Tanzania and Kenya.

1.2.3 Getting Insights on Laws and Policy Making

Since Somalia is still a growing democracy, it can borrow ideas from the EAC bloc members who have mature democracies like Kenya on how toin statelaws and good policies. Moreover, the common regulatory regime and frameworks make sure that best practice within the regional framework is both in place and adhered to. The market closeness “single” make sure that good procedures are established and practiced and hence creating a kind of unified markets.

More specifically, Somalia might get insights on how to come up with a strong employment law. Employment law controls the association amongst the employers and staff. It directs what employers could anticipate from employees, what employers could command employees to do, and rights of employees at work . With a strong employment law that protects workers from wrongdoing by their employers, Somalia would stand a chance to attract more competent employees from neighbouring countries.

1.2.4 Improved Market for their Products

EAC offers a chance for member countries to have access to regional markets and trade within the members. Contained in the common market of EAC are operational principles of the partner states including: “Non-discrimination of nationals of other Partner States on grounds of nationality; Equal treatment to nationals of other Partner States; Ensure transparency in matters concerning the other Partner States; and Share information for the smooth implementation of the Protocol”. Somalia would benefit immensely from joining the EAC as it will allow them to effectively export their products to the neighbouring countries who are members of EAC. This would assist in growing their economy.

1.2.5 Attract Foreign Direct Investment

Foreign “direct investment (FDI) is a purchase of an interest in a company by a company or an investor located outside its borders” .The partner countries of EAC continues promoting opportunities of investment to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) into the different priority sectors. The partner countries of EAC are committed to enhancing their economic environment with beset investments into infrastructure, industrial development, and oil production and refinery and investment in renewable energy, for reduction of the huge import bills and reliance on fossil fuels. The inflows of FDIs to the EAC have formerly been concerted in the manufacturing, construction, and services sectors. China and India continue to be the major sources of foreign direct investment to Eastern African Community. If Somalia succeeds in their quest to become a member of EAC, they would be assisted in promoting and attracting more foreign investors into the country. This would enable the existing companies in the country establish working partnerships with large companies in neighbouring countries like Kenya. This would go a long way in improving the GDP of Somalia.

1.3 Conclusion

There have been numerous attempts since 2011 by Somalia to join EAC. Though they are yet to be admitted as members, there is still hope and Somalia needs to continue making applications. This is because joining EAC comes with a lot of benefits both in terms of improved international relations and economic benefits. There are various conditions that countries need to satisfy to become members of the EAC bloc that were set out in the 1999 Treaty for the formation of the East African Community. Hence, Somalia needs to enhance respect for universal principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and other civil rights. Somalia also needs to strengthen its institutions and come up with more strategies to stabilise the country. There is also need for Somalia to increase its efforts in enhancing security and community reconciliation across the country.

This because after becoming a member state, Somalia would have full access to single customs territory hence it will reduce time and cost of transporting goods from Dar es Salaam and Mombasa ports. In addition, becoming EAC member state would enable the Somali people to enjoy the right of free movement between the member countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania among others without the need of having a VISA. This would facilitate their efforts to conduct business and invest in any country within EAC bloc without obstruction.

1. Katembo, B. (2008). Pan Africanism and Development: The East African Community Model. Journal of Pan African Studies, 2(4).

2. Kiprota, S. J. (2012). The East African Community (EAC) achievements and challenges since 2001 (Master’s thesis, University of Cape Town).

3. https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/news/east-africa/somalia-renews-push-to-join-east-african-community-3887168

4. Bagenstos, S. R. (2013). Employment law and social equality. Mich. L. Rev., 112, 225.

5. Clegg, J., & Voss, H. (2012). Chinese overseas direct investment in the European Union. London: Europe China Research and Advice Network.

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