Somalia’s Membership To East African Community (EAC)


Is Somalia ready to join the East African Community (EAC)? Would Somalia’s political, economic, and social fragility put it in a weak position and negate any benefits derived from the EAC? Given inadequate labor export capacity and critical domestic skills shortages, would the match-touted labor mobility between the EAC members help Somalia? Somalia might be aligning its domestic regulatory practices in services with those in EAC, but does Somalia have the regulatory institutions required by the EAC? Somalia is not ready for deep integration into the EAC Community. Still, after reforming its national institutions, a variable geometry—incremental approach to EAC membership could usher in new fast-tracked reforms for Somalia regarding financial regulations, healthcare modernization, and small industry development. Given weak institutions, Somalia can be given longer transition periods to conform with EAC regulatory requirements.

This article will review Somalia’s readiness for the EAC in light of the challenges Somalia is facing and will recommend that Somalia not join the EAC now.  However, after reforming its institutions, gradual approach is the most prudent way to integrate Somalia into EAC.

Brief History of EAC

The Treaty for reestablishing the East African Community was signed by the heads of state of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania and entered into force on July 7, 2000. Two new members, Rwanda, and Burundi, acceded to the Community in 2007 and the Republic of South Sudan in 2016, bringing its membership to six. In 2022 the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was added, opening the Community to the ports of Atlantic Ocean trade.

As the following chart shows, based on 2022 estimates, Somalia’s population will be the fifth largest of the Community, with one of the smallest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of US$544. Overall, with Somalia joining, the Community will have a population of 320 million with a whopping GDP of US$330 billion (US$1,030 per capita).


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