The East African Community is poised to become a formidable regional economic bloc with the inclusion of two countries from the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia and Djibouti are set to join the EAC, expanding its market size to reach a staggering 800 million people.
This move aligns with the vision of the EAC’s leaders to integrate all countries in the Horn of Africa and create a single, enormous market.
Dr. Peter Mathuki, the Secretary General of the EAC, revealed this exciting development during the launch of the EU-EAC Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP II). He emphasised the importance of regional integration and highlighted the potential of a unified market in the horn of Africa.
The negotiations for Somalia’s entry into the EAC, which took place in August, paved the way for other countries in the region to join the bloc. Experts from the seven EAC partner states, together with the EAC Secretariat and other regional institutions, engaged in a nine-day discussion with their counterparts from the Federal Republic of Somalia. This signals a significant step towards regional unity and collaboration.
Dr. Mathuki also urged the EAC partner states to explore new avenues beyond agriculture as the MARKUP II programme commences. He stressed the need to tap into untapped potentials and unleash the region’s economic power. By diversifying industries and focusing on sectors beyond the traditional ones, the EAC can maximise its economic growth and drive innovation.
The integration of Ethiopia and Djibouti into the EAC will bring numerous benefits to both countries and the entire region. It will create new opportunities for trade, investment, and collaboration, stimulating economic growth and development. Additionally, it will enhance political cooperation and foster a spirit of unity and solidarity among the member states.
Ethiopia, with its rapidly growing economy and vast market potential, will bring substantial value to the EAC. As one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, Ethiopia offers significant opportunities for trade and investment. Djibouti, with its strategic location and thriving ports, will play a crucial role in facilitating regional trade and connectivity.
The launch of the EU-EAC MARKUP II, which has a budget of €40 million marks the beginning of a new phase aimed at supporting small agribusinesses and horticultural producers to compete in international markets. This phase, which will run until 2027, seeks to fully harness the potential of agribusiness in the EAC partner states.
The renewed efforts will prioritise sectors and value chains within the EAC that emphasise processing, value addition, diversification, investment, and export linkages. European Union Ambassador to Tanzania, Ms. Christine Grau, noted that the MARKUP II program represents the EU’s clear commitment to supporting East African Community companies, promoting sustainable growth, and creating decent job opportunities.
The program aims to propel African companies to new heights through the reduction of trade barriers, strong project governance, increased awareness and access to finance, and market linkages. The envoy further urged all stakeholders to embrace this initiative together and unlock the full potential of Africa’s economic development.
MARKUP II is a regional project funded by the EU and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in partnership with the EAC.
The inclusion of Ethiopia and Djibouti in the EAC will also contribute to the regional stability and security of the Horn of Africa. By fostering closer ties and cooperation between neighbouring countries, the EAC aims to promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the region.