President Mohamud inaugurates EAC conference in Mogadishu, condemns Ethiopia’s water ambitions

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President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia inaugurated a consultative conference of the East African Community in Mogadishu on Monday. The conference focused on opportunities for businesses and civil society.

During his speech, President Mohamud reiterated Somalia’s dedication to fostering good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation. He emphasized his administration’s commitment to attracting investments and ensuring the fair distribution of opportunities among member states.

President Mohamud also addressed Ethiopia’s interest in accessing Somalia’s water resources, stating that such ambitions undermine regional cooperation and stability. “I want to make it clear to the Somali community and the world that Ethiopia’s attempt to reach our sea illegally is unacceptable. Ethiopia already has access to the Djibouti Sea,” Mohamud said.

The conference marks a watershed moment for Somalia, following 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 boost 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.

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

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