The East African Community (EAC) is looking to expand its membership by admitting more countries, with Ethiopia being at the top of the list, according to EAC Secretary-General Dr Peter Mathuki.
In a recent interview, Dr Mathuki stated that the EAC is keen to have Ethiopia join the bloc, a topic that has been discussed in previous summits. He added that Ethiopia’s inclusion in the EAC would add value to the regional market of over 200 million people.
Currently, the EAC is working on the criteria for admitting new members, which will be based on various factors such as political stability, economic viability, respect for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
Dr Mathuki also noted that the admission process would involve consultations with the member states and would be guided by the EAC Treaty, which outlines the procedures for the admission of new members.
The EAC’s desire to expand its membership comes just a few weeks after Somalia submitted its application to join the bloc. The EAC is currently reviewing Somalia’s application, and a decision is expected to be made soon.
If Somalia’s application is successful, it will become the sixth member of the East African Community, which currently comprises Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi.
The admission of new members to the East African Community is viewed as a way of deepening regional integration and expanding the market for goods and services, which is expected to boost trade and economic growth in the region.
However, there are potential challenges in terms of harmonizing policies and regulations among the member states, as well as addressing issues of political and economic disparities among them.
Despite these challenges, Dr Mathuki stressed that the EAC remains committed to expanding its membership and deepening regional integration. The admission of new members will be done in a transparent and consultative manner, with the interests of all member states take into account.
In summary, the East African Community is looking to expand its membership by admitting new countries such as Ethiopia while ensuring the admission process is transparent and consultative. This move is expected to deepen regional integration and boost economic growth in the region.