Somalia welcomed to East African Community bloc in Ugandan ceremony

 Somalia was welcomed Friday to the East African Community (EAC) in a ceremony in Uganda.

The Treaty of Accession was signed by Somalian President Sheikh Hassan Mohamud and the Chairperson of the Summit of EAC Heads of State, Salva Kiir Mayardit, who president of South Sudan.

The ceremony was witnessed by Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Also in attendance was EAC Secretary General Peter Mutuku Mathuki.

The EAC was established in 2000 to foster economic growth by eliminating customs duties among member states, among other measures. It established a common market in 2010 and is headquartered in Tanzania.

Mohamud expressed gratitude to EAC member countries for admitting Somalia to the bloc. He said the community symbolizes the realization of their collective aspirations and it is a beacon of hope for the future filled with possibilities.

“Somalia is grateful for acceptance shown by the brotherly states that were in the community. We are also hoping that many more countries could join the community,” said Mohamud.

Museveni described the entrance of Somalia as a boost to the efforts of the regional bloc to ensure the prosperity and strategic security of its people. He said through integration, the people of East Africa will be able to have sustainable prosperity that comes from producing and selling a good or service.

Kiir said admitting Somalia into the community signifies the commitment of Somalia and the EAC in coming together in the spirit of African unity for the mutual benefit of its people.

Mathuki reiterated the need to expedite the common East African currency, describing it as an opportunity to facilitate trade in the region.

“With our common currency, we are going to reduce the cost of production by 0.5% of our GDP and that is the only way we can do business,” he said.

The combined annual economy of the EAC is estimated at more than $300 billion, with over 300 million people living in member states.

The EAC is a regional intergovernmental organization of seven partner states — Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and now -Somalia – with headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

Under the 1999 EAC Treaty, member states have visa-free entry to EAC countries and are eligible for East African passports, as well as tax-free access to EAC markets.

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