Somalia has officially been admitted into the regional trade bloc, East African Community (EAC) as the eighth member as it seeks to expand free trade across the region.

“We have decided to admit the Federal Republic of Somalia under the treaty of accession,” outgoing EAC chair, Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye, said at a summit of the group in Tanzania on Friday.

Somalia is battling prolonged threat by Islamist group, al-Shabab occupying a large swathe of land in the country.

Somalia whose President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was at the summit joins Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda in the membership.

The EAC is headquartered in the Tanzanian town of Arusha where the summit took place.

The bloc was founded in 2000 and works to encourage trade by removing customs duties between member states. The bloc established a common market in 2010.

The admission of the fragile Horn of Africa nation with a population of 17 million will boost the EAC market to more than 300 million people.

Somalia also has the longest coastline of a mainland African country and will add more than 3,000 kilometres (1,800 miles) of shoreline to the bloc, stretching it from the Atlantic through the Indian Ocean up to the Gulf of Aden.

Monica Mbabazi

Monica Mbabazi is a celebrated multimedia Ugandan Journalist currently working as a news anchor on Top Radio and BTM Television. She is also a writer with Plus News Uganda.

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