by Ismail D. Osman
Thursday March 2, 2023
East Africa Community conference in Mogadishu, Somalia - (Photo: SONNA)
Somalia has expressed interest in joining the East African
Community (EAC), which consists of six countries: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda,
Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. Several conditions must be completed before
Somalia may join the EAC.
First and foremost, Somalia must meet the EAC Treaty's
entrance conditions. This includes demonstrating the ability to uphold the
ideals of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights
respect. Somalia must also demonstrate a functional market economy and commitment
to regional integration.
East African Community (EAC) officially launches a
verification mission to assess Somalia's readiness to join the Community, it
would likely involve a team of experts conducting a comprehensive review of
Somalia's political, economic, and social systems.
The EAC verification team who visited Somalia last month
assessed Somalia's progress in meeting the criteria for EAC membership. The
team would also evaluate Somalia's economic performance, trade policies, and
its potential contribution to the EAC's integration efforts.
Based on the findings of the verification mission, the EAC
would decide on whether Somalia meets the criteria for membership and recommend
next steps, which could include further negotiations and reforms to meet the
requirements for joining the Community.
Second, Somalia must negotiate its membership terms with the
EAC member states. This includes committing to abide by the EAC's legal and
institutional frameworks, as well as negotiating tariff rates and other trade
regulations. Finally, Somalia must
address its worries about internal security and stability. For decades, the
country has been plagued by conflict and insecurity, and any upheaval might
jeopardize the EAC's overall stability.
To enable Somalia to join the EAC, the international
community must assist Somalia in addressing its concerns about internal
security and stability, promoting good governance and the rule of law, and
fostering economic growth and development. The EAC member states can also offer
Somalia with technical assistance to help it achieve the admission criteria and
negotiate its conditions of membership.
True, Somalia's potential EAC membership could open up
opportunities for foreign investment in a variety of sectors, including fishing,
agriculture, mining, livestock, food processing, construction, finance, airline
transport and hubs, health tourism, ITs & Telecom, digital economy, and
marine transport. This might potentially offer job opportunities for EAC
citizens, both skilled and non-skilled labors.
It is important to note, however, that the extent to which
these opportunities materialize will be determined by several factors, including
the level of investment attracted, the regulatory environment in Somalia and
the wider EAC, and the capacity of Somali businesses to capitalize on these
The latter is a sure bet given the large Somalia diaspora and
their access to Western Capital markets, Western power centers and Western consumer
markets. They believe they can create hundreds of thousands of jobs if security
is improved something the current president swears bye.
It is also critical to guarantee that any investment is
long-term and fosters inclusive economic growth, so that the benefits of
economic development are widely distributed and contribute to poverty reduction
and improved living conditions for all EAC residents, including those in Somalia.
This may necessitate tailored policies and initiatives to assist small and
medium-sized businesses, promote environmental sustainability, and secure
workers' access to fair salaries and decent working conditions.
The business community can help Somalia's desire to join the
EAC and President Hassan Sheikh's goal of eradicating Al Shabaab. The business
community can assist create jobs and enhance regional stability and security by
investing more in Somalia and supporting economic growth and development.
Furthermore, the business community can help Somalia improve
its governance and minimize corruption, which are critical for creating an
enabling climate for business and economic development. Advocating for reforms
to streamline company regulations and decrease bureaucracy, promoting the creation
of transparent procurement processes, and promoting corporate social
responsibility projects that benefit local communities are examples of such
One area that business community helped the government is
the use of mobile money transfers (MMT) used to collect taxes and other government
revenues that results government financial
accountability and transparence. Another area is the use of USD currency for
local transactions that eliminates currency depreciation anxiety and inflation.
However, it is critical to acknowledge that Somalia's
difficulties are complicated and varied, and that there are no simple
solutions. To eradicate Al Shabaab, for example, a mix of military action,
targeted social programs, and local community participation will be required,
among other things. On top of that the government must empower tribal leaders
to educate their followers the dangers of the Al Shabab and its obstacle to peaceful,
prosperous, and inclusive society. The business community can play an essential
role in assisting these efforts, but it will also necessitate coordination and
cooperation among a variety of sectors and players, both within Somalia and
Finally, the business community is encouraging the president
to push the EAC agenda to the forefront of his government and allocate
resources to accomplish this important mission.
Ismail D. Osman: Former Deputy Director of Somalia National Intelligence &
Security Agency (NISA) – Writes in Somalia, Horn of Africa Security and
Geopolitical focusing on governance and security. You can reach him [email protected]