Heavy agenda on the table for EAC heads of state

Wednesday February 17 2021
EAC Summit.

EAC heads of state at a past summit. Somalia and DRC want to join the bloc. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Covid-19 challenges, Somalia’s application to the join the East African Community, ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement and consultations towards attaining a Political Federation will be top on the agenda at the Heads of State Summit scheduled for February 27.

“We are planning to have a Council meeting just before the Summit. There are issues like the challenges posed by Covid-19 in the EAC, the working of the institutions and others, though it is too early to come up with all the issues,” said Prof Manasseh Nshuti, Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of the EAC and also the chairperson of the Council of Ministers. The pandemic made it difficult for the EAC Summit to meet last year, delaying discussions on Somali’s admission to the Community.

Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are seeking to join EAC and the former put its application to the Secretariat in 2013. “We have the applications of both Somali and DR Congo. The summit shall give direction,” said Prof Nshuti. The Community currently consists of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda Burundi, and South Sudan.

In July 2018, Somalia got a boost when it was granted membership into the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), a free trade zone comprising of 21 African nations. The move has improved its chances of getting into EAC. The AfCFTA agreement, so far ratified by 35 countries on the continent, will also be discussed.

“Drawing from the EAC experience which has been a success, the AfCFTA means a lot to Africans whether in the East, South or West.

This is a huge market that we can tap into,” said Prof Nshuti. However, of the six EAC partner states only three — Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda — have ratified the AfCFTA agreement. The Political Federation, which is the ultimate goal of the EAC regional integration is on the summits agenda. On May 20, 2017, the EAC Heads of State adopted the Political Confederation as a transitional model of the East African Political Federation.