In March 2016 the Heads of State of the EAC admitted South Sudan into the Community. The path to accession started in 2011 when H. E. General Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President of the Republic of South Sudan, signed a note verbale applying for membership. In August 2013, the EAC’s Council of Ministers passed a resolution establishing a High-Level Negotiations Team to carry out the accession negotiations with South Sudan. In March 2014, President Mayardit signed a Decree establishing a High-Level Committee to negotiate the Republic of South Sudan’s accession to the EAC.

Over the last two years, Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) has supported South Sudan navigate its path to joining the EAC through the services of an economic consultancy, Imani Development.

Support has been provided directly with the placement of a technical expert in the High Level Negotiations Team. Economic assessments of the impact of joining the EAC have helped identify key benefits and potential costs; costs that will need to be managed in the accession process. Regulatory assessments have set out the legal reforms needed to be able to join the group. These assessments have also been developed into regulatory road maps that will help guide the implementation of the EAC Treaty and laws.

An important part of the process of negotiations has been dialogue and communication with the people of South Sudan. The TMEA programme has supported outreach with the Private Sector and civil society, hosting several workshops and discussion groups, and engagement with law makers.

Ensuring ongoing analysis and debate has also been a target of the programme. As a result there has been engagement with Academia, with passionate exchanges of views and ideas with leading thinkers helping to set out important issues going forward. Training has also been provided to the media to equip them with independent sources of information. This will help ensure the people of South Sudan will continue to be provided with information and commentary on the EAC, from a specifically South Sudanese perspective.

A web presence for the government to share information on the accession process is also being developed along with publicity material for the general public.

Support to South Sudan becoming a member of the EAC is central to the country’s strategy to become a fully-fledged member of the International Community. Membership in this regional block can bring tangible economic and political benefits in terms of increasing trade and investment, and economic growth.