East African Community (EAC) Secretary General Peter Mathuki has termed the anticipated inclusion of Somalia in the regional bloc as a key step towards enhancing economic integration and intra-regional trade.
Speaking on Wednesday after launching a week-long Verification Mission to review Somalia’s bid to join the seven-member regional bloc, Mathuki said Somalia’s bid is timely.
He cited Somalia’s expansive 3,000-kilometre coastline linking Africa to the Arabian Peninsula as a crucial asset the region could tap into.
“Somalia has the longest national coastline of over 3,000 kms in Africa, linking Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, which the region can tap into to increase intra-regional trade and improve the lives of East Africans,” he said.
Somalia’s Foreign Minister Abshir Omar said the bid to join the regional bloc only seeks to formalize existing cooperation between Somalia and its neighbors in the region.
“Somalis are already present in the EAC. The Somalis started integrating with their brothers and sisters of the region way before the request of formalizing the decision of joining the EAC,” he stated.
The verification team comprising representatives from all EAC Members States is expected to make an assessment to be condensed into a report on Somalia’s readiness to be admitted to the bloc.
Mathuki said the verification team will interrogate the country’s institutional and legal frameworks and strategies in place to enhance cooperation.
“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 its membership,” he said.