The East African Community could double in size in three years as more countries express interest in joining the bloc. According to Harvard University professor Calestous Juma, both South Sudan and Ethiopia are eyeing the region. EAC Secretary General Juma Mwapachu has on several occasions said South Sudan has asked to be considered a member of the Community as soon as it breaks ranks with Khartoum. Also seeking to join the EAC, according to Dr Mwapachu, are the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. With all indications that the South Sudanese want freedom, and will overwhelmingly vote in favour of secession, the EAC could be welcoming its sixth member in less than two years. Rwanda and Burundi joined the EAC, originally comprised of the founding states of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in 2007. Considering that Sudan in its current state is the largest country in Africa, its joining EAC would bring a sizeable chunk into the bloc, economically, socially and geographically. Size The East African region covers an area of 1.8 million square kilometres with a combined population of about 132 million by July 2009 estimates and has significant natural resources. In an interview published by the International Development Institute website, Prof Juma says regional integration bodies especially in Africa are a force to watch in 2011. They are coming in as economic networks, laying the foundations for alternative forms of economic governance and are quite different from the EU model despite the seeming similarities. This year we will see for the first time greater co-ordination among East African countries on foreign policy matters. They are building up a credible body of protocols that will make economic federation inevitable, he says. He adds that South Sudan is a place to watch because it will want to be part of the EAC and cannot be so while it is at war. And when it does, I suspect that North Sudan might want to join as well. Even far-flung countries such as Central African Republic will be looking to be part of East Africa. And with Ethiopia continuing to grow its internal economy I suspect the region could be in for a surprise Prof Juma says. According to Prof Juma, the integration bug could hit Somalia too! This could spill over into Somalia as well, which might start to feel war fatigue especially as the northern regions continue to prosper and improve.