The East African Community (EAC) Secretary-General, Peter Mathuki, has shared his vision for the bloc to become the most integrated regional economic bloc in the world. He emphasized the need for a borderless Africa that includes opening up the skies and cheaper travel within the region. In an interview with the East African, he also revealed plans to develop a Community city that will accommodate everyone. Moreover, Mathuki observed that the alliance is looking to move from being a secretariat to a commission.
Somalia in the EAC
Mathuki explained that Somalia’s upcoming admission into the Community would benefit the region due to its 3,000km coastline, which is the longest in Africa. Combined with Kenya’s 1,400km and Tanzania’s, it will create a 5,000km coastline, reducing the cost of transporting goods.
This was a decision of the heads of state, and I can tell you it’ll come with benefits. Somalia has a 3,000km coastline – the longest in Africa. Combine that with Kenya’s 1,400km and Tanzania’s and you have a 5,000km coastline. This means that the cost of transporting goods will become cheaper because there will be a bigger marine service line. We’ll deal with insecurity once it joins the Community.
It will be regulated by the instruments we have. In fact, it’s more dangerous for Somalia to be out there. They’re not an EAC member, therefore we have no mandate to deal with their security issues. If we go to the Security Council and ask for resources they will listen to us but if Mogadishu goes on its own, they’ll probably not listen to them.Peter Mathuki, EAC Secretary General.
Additionally, he stated that the next country that should think about joining the bloc after Somalia is Ethiopia. He said that if Ethiopia is admitted, the EAC market would grow to more than 500 million people.
What about DRC?
When asked about the DRC’s membership and the current situation in the country, he explained that the DRC being allowed to join the bloc was the best decision made.
DRC is a game-changer. It has brought in close to 100 million people into the population of East Africa. But it has also connected the Atlantic Ocean with the Indian Ocean, so that new corridor becomes critical to supporting the movement of goods. The inclusion of DRC remains one of the best decisions the heads of states have made. It has changed the global dynamics – how people perceive East Africa. When the UN Security Council is seated, when the African Union is seated, there’s an agenda about East Africa. And this is something we need to appreciate.Peter Mathuki, EAC Secretary General.
Regarding manufacturing, the secretary general confirmed that the EAC had the capacity to produce enough goods for a 300-million-people market thanks to the Common External Tariff. He reiterated that the tariff was worked on to encourage local manufacturing, enabling the production of enough East African goods.
Finally, the secretary General expressed enthusiasm at the member states remittances to the bloc. He remarked that Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda have given 100% of their contributions for the fiscal years 2021 and 2022. Mathuki added that while South Sudan and Burundi owed $40 million in contributions, South Sudan has given $15 million, and the EAC is still engaging with them to pay up.