The East African Federation is a proposed nation state that's made up of 6 unified east African states: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

This doesn't include Somalia, a country the size of Texas with the biggest coast line in Africa that just so happens to be the eastern most country in Africa.


2 Answers 2


Probably because of Somalia's internal troubles but also because of their disputes with Kenya.

The proposed future federation basically coincides with the EAC (East African Community), and Somalia is not even a part of that yet, although some in Kenya suggest Somalia's membership to the EAC.

According to that article, attempts in the 1960s to get Somalia into the EAC apparently failed because Somalia had territorial demands toward Kenya.

the Somalis were emotionally involved in the agitation for a Greater Somalia. They wanted Kenya’s North Eastern Province and Ethiopia’s Ogaden Province to be ceded to them.

Somalia more recently (2018) joined COMESA directly and they also formally applied to join the EAC in 2013. Apparently their application to EAC was rejected in 2016 (even though South Sudan was admitted then), but Somalia applied again to join the EAC in 2017.

Apparently in 2017 Tanzania objected to Somalia's membership to the EAC based on security concerns. Public opinion in Tanzania is more skeptical of EAC in general than in Kenya. By analogy, as it happens with EU expansion(s), the countries which are more skeptical of the current functioning of the union/community are usually the more reluctant to its expansion as well. I don't know for sure why Tanzania agreed to an EAC expansion in South Sudan but not Somalia. Officially, Tanzania's change of heart toward South Sudan's membership, which happened around 2012, was because South Sudan became more democratic and observant of human rights. The fact that South Sudan has substantial oil reserves was mentioned by journalists commenting on that.

Besides that, as of 2019, there was another flare-up in the Somalia-Kenya relations relating to a maritime dispute. This despite the previously improving relations and cooperation on fighting Al-Shabaab.

Not being landlocked Somalia (which has a 10:1 imports-exports trade imbalance) is not as dependent on neighboring African countries for imports:

The top import origins of Somalia are China ($469M), India ($462M), Oman ($302M), Kenya ($190M) and Turkey ($140M).

The main export market for Somalia is Oman (70%) and it looks like it mainly consists of animal products (sheeps, goats etc.)

In contrast South Sudan (which is a net exporter and exports almost all their oil to China via pipelines in its African neighbors that have ports), imports heavily from neighboring EAC/African countries.

The top import origins of South Sudan are Uganda ($253M), Kenya ($161M), China ($51.8M), the Netherlands ($11.1M) and the United States ($9.7M).

So that explain to some extent why Somalia has been less accommodating in its negotiations with its African neighbors.


This is just a small addition to Fizz's very good answer above. The countries of the EAF are highly compatible because they speak related languages with a great deal of overlap, and they have very similar terrains and climates, which leads to a high degree of cultural contact and similarity. Somalia would very much be the odd man out in these regards.

Here is a student video with some good graphics illustrating the climate/terrain issue.

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