In a rare show of unity, all of the East African Heads of State showed up at the Kasarani Sports Centre in Nairobi Tuesday to join Kenyans as they marked a peaceful transfer of power. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda was among the first heads of state to arrive in the Kenyan capital ahead of William Ruto’s inauguration as the country’s fifth president – taking over from Uhuru Kenyatta, who led East Africa’s largest economy for the last 10 years. The spread of Covid-19 to East Africa back in 2020 meant that leaders of the EAC partner states had to resort to virtual meetings. Even when the pandemic eased, some still could not make it to in-person summits. While the pandemic may have slowed down some aspects of the integration agenda, DR Congo’s admission was a huge development, and saw the bloc’s map significantly expand – now stretching from Indian Ocean to Atlantic Ocean. Crucially, mineral-rich Congo arrived with a population of around 90 million people, effectively growing the EAC market to nearly 300 million. Its admission was the culmination of a three-year process that began in 2019 when DR Congo President Félix Tshisekedi formally wrote to his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, the EAC chair at the time, requesting for his country’s admission into the grouping. Nonetheless, the enthusiasm about Congo’s admission was soon almost dampened by renewed tensions in the region as a result of continued presence of negative armed groups in the country’s east, broken promises, and renewed hostilities. However, seeing all of the leaders of EAC partner states assembled together in Nairobi, and embracing and welcoming President Ruto into their fold, and the latter committing to help strengthen regional integration and peace efforts was a welcome gesture. Ruto endorsed the decision by the EAC Summit in July to appoint his immediate predecessor Kenyatta to continue with the role of facilitator of DR Congo’s peace talks. Kenya, the only EAC partner state that does not share a border with DR Congo, has in recent years moved to play a greater role in peace efforts in the Great Lakes Region, and Ruto’s pledge to continue in the same direction is a welcome development. The rest of the EAC, particularly DR Congo, need to seize the moment and take concrete steps toward honouring their commitments to peace, so as to allow for deepening of integration through implementation of the EAC Treaty. That will put the EAC in a strong position to better contribute toward peace and security initiatives elsewhere on the continent and to enhance intra-Africa trade and, ultimately, continental integration.