The East African Community on Wednesday, January 25, launched its verification mission to assess Somalia's readiness to join the regional economic community. The verification team - chaired by Marie Rose Tiri from Burundi – with experts from the EAC partner states will be in Somalia from January 25 to February 3, to establish the country’s level of conformity with the criteria for admitting foreign countries as provided in the EAC Treaty. This comes after the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, on July 21, 2022, rekindled his country’s request to join the bloc. At the time, during an EAC Heads of State meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, the President of Somalia requested officially, on behalf of his nation, that we need to join this great community. READ ALSO: Somalia makes fresh appeal to join EAC The EAC Secretary General, Peter Mathuki, disclosed that the technical team in Mogadishu will engage Somalia to ensure that the verification was finalized and a report completed in time in readiness for presentation to the EAC Council of Ministers who will table it for consideration by the 23rd Summit of EAC Heads of State scheduled for the end of February. “The verification team is set to make findings relating to the institutional frameworks in place; legal frameworks; policies, strategies, projects and programmes; areas of cooperation with other EAC partner states and expectations from membership,” Mathuki said. As noted, the team will assess Somalia’s development strategies and plans in key areas of collaboration including infrastructure, energy, education and science, peace and security, and international cooperation. The team will also review the status of Somalia in international law and establish the country’s readiness to join the EAC Customs Union, Common Market Protocol, Monetary Union and ongoing political confederation constitutional framework. In July 2022, President Mohamud said it will be a dream come true for Somalia to join the bloc. For more than 10 years, his country has sought to join the bloc but circumstances did not permit and, he is now optimistic that the time has come for his country to join this great Community. After the DR Congo completed the process of admission as the seventh EAC Partner State, in july 2022, Somalia wants to be the eighth member. In February 2021, the EAC Summit, among others, considered a progress report on the verification exercise for admission of Somalia. The Horn of Africa nation submitted its application in February 2012 In July 2022, the President of Somalia – who has served as the president of Somalia since May 2022 – told his EAC colleagues that his country is part of the very resource-rich part of East Africa, with 15 to 20 million people, close to 10 million hectares of arable land, vast marine resources, livestock, and others, but, above all, a human resource which is very entrepreneurial and very much active. Somalia shares borders with one EAC partner state, Kenya, and has strong historical, linguistic, economic and socio-cultural links with all the EAC partner states. On Wednesday, Somalia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abshir Omar expressed enthusiasm for the team set to assess Somalia’s readiness to join the bloc, saying that Somalia will benefit greatly because of the free movement of people from Somalia and other countries without a visa, if they are fully in the bloc. “The Somalis started integrating with their brothers and sisters of the region way before the request of formalizing the decision of joining the EAC,” he said. Somalia has the longest national coastline – more than 3,000 kilometers – in Africa, linking the continent to the Arabian Peninsula, which, Mathuki said, “the region will tap into to increase intra-regional trade.” But the country continues to wrestle with problems of general insecurity caused by the Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group Al-Shabaab. Criteria for admission of new countries Under the EAC Treaty, the criteria for the admission of new countries into the bloc include: acceptance of the Community as set out in the Treaty; adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice; and potential contribution to the strengthening of integration within the region. Others are: geographical proximity to and inter-dependence between the foreign country seeking admission and partner states; the establishment and maintenance of a market-driven economy; in addition to social and economic policies being compatible with those of the bloc.