Democratic Republic of the Congo becomes 7th partner of the East African Community

EAST AFRICA – The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has joined the East African Community (EAC) becoming its 7th Partner State.

Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda are the other members.

The DRC is the largest and most populous country to join the EAC, bringing a market of 90 million people and immediately upgrading the region’s GDP from US$193 billion to US$240 billion.

The Summit of EAC Heads of State at their 19th Ordinary Summit admitted DRC following recommendation by the Council of Ministers.

The Chairperson of the Summit, H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also Kenya’s President, informed the meeting that DRC had met all the set criteria for admission as provided for in the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC.

“We have concluded the regional processes for admitting new members as provided for in our rules of procedure,” said President Kenyatta.

“Admitting DRC into EAC is historic for our Community and the African continent at large. It demonstrates the agility of the Community to expand beyond its socio-cultural boundaries to new people and trade-centered partnerships and collaboration, thus increasing trade and investment opportunities for the citizens.”

President Kenyatta said that he was looking forward to the DRC signing the Treaty of Accession before the stated date of 14th April 2022.

Welcoming his country’s admission into the EAC, DRC President Felix Tshishekedi termed it a historical day for DRC, stating that it paves the way for the harmonization of the country’s policies with those of the EAC.

President Tshishekedi said that DRC was looking forward to increased Intra-EAC trade and reduction of tension amongst the EAC Partner States.

“It is the desire of DRC to see the creation of a new organ in the EAC that is solely focused on mining, natural resources and energy that will be based in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo,” he said.

Addressing the Summit, EAC Secretary General Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki, said that the admission of DRC into the EAC comes with increased GDP and expanded market size making EAC a home to about 300 million people, which would be mutually beneficial to the people of both EAC and DRC by providing employment and investment opportunities that come along with this new development.

“The EAC now spans from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean making the region competitive and easy to access the larger African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” said Dr. Mathuki.

“With lower tariffs on goods and the removal of trading restrictions among Partner States, we anticipate that goods and services will move more freely. With a larger market, manufacturers in the EAC, whether large, or SMEs, will benefit from economies of scale, making them increasingly efficient and competitive,” he added.

The Secretary General invited the Private Sector to work closely with the Public Sector to tap the benefits of the entry of the central African nation into the bloc.

Further, Dr. Mathuki said that DRC’s entry also requires integrating the EAC’s trade infrastructure, intermodal connectivity, One-Stop Border Posts (OSBPs), and trade systems to reduce trade time and costs, adding that enhancing trade facilitation will enable formal and informal cross-border trade along the region’s transport corridors.

Upon ascension to The Treaty establishing the East African Community and depositing of the instrument of acceptance with the Secretary-General, DRC will join EAC’s cooperation in all the sectors, programmes and activities that promote the four pillars of EAC Integration.

Collaboration in these areas will help us achieve the Community’s objectives as set out in Article 5 of the EAC Treaty.

The Africa Development Bank projects that the DRC’s real GDP was expected to grow by 3.3 per cent in 2021 and 4.5 per cent in 2022- despite Covid-19 shocks- driven by higher prices for major mining products, such as copper and recovery in both consumption and investment.

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