Somalia Hosts East African Community Conference Amid Regional Tensions

Hosting a consultative conference of the East African Community (EAC) in Mogadishu on Monday, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia emphasized opportunities for businesses and civil society.

During his address, Mohamud highlighted Somalia’s dedication to fostering good neighbourly relations and regional stability. He reiterated his administration’s commitment to attracting investments and ensuring equitable distribution of opportunities among member states.

Focusing on Ethiopia’s interest in accessing Somalia’s water resources, President Mohamud declared that such ambitions undermine regional cooperation and peace. “I want to assure the Somali community and the world that Ethiopia’s attempt to reach our sea illegally is unacceptable. Ethiopia already has access to the Djibouti coastline,” Mohamud stated.

Marking a watershed moment for Somalia, the conference followed its full membership in the EAC on March 4, 2024. Somalia’s EAC membership was formalized during a ceremony in Arusha, Tanzania. The membership is anticipated to enhance Somalia’s economic prospects by facilitating trade, investment, and the free movement of goods and people within the region. The EAC, which includes Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, now aims to integrate Somalia into its four main pillars: the Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union, and Political Federation.

Given Somalia’s strategic location, featuring Africa’s longest coastline, the EAC’s market potential is significantly boosted. The EAC membership is expected to foster economic growth and job creation in Somalia, addressing high unemployment rates and reducing youth migration.

Despite these prospects, Somalia faces significant hurdles, including governance issues, human rights concerns, and the ongoing insurgency by Al-Shabaab. These challenges could affect its complete integration into the EAC. Additionally, the EAC’s expansion has faced criticism for potentially outpacing its capacity for effective integration, with political conflicts among member states, such as those between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, highlighting these concerns.

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