The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has officially been made part of the East African Community’s (EAC) trading bloc. It has become the seventh nation within the community, and this represents more intra-African trade opportunity for the country.
Following a recommendation from the council of ministers, the EAC heads of state convened their 19th Ordinary Summit on Tuesday, 29 March 2022, and admitted DRC.
Kinshasa, the DRC’s largest and capital city, had expressed its desire to be included in the EAC since 2019 as several of the countries that form part of the trading bloc are its main trade partners.
Uhuru Kenyatta, the summit’s chairperson and Kenya’s president, informed the meeting that the DRC has met all of the entry conditions outlined 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 expressed his hope that the DRC would sign the Treaty of Accession before the deadline of 14 April 2022. After adopting the council of ministers’ recommendation, the summit decided to admit the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the EAC.
“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,” said DRC’s president Felix Tshishekedi.
Tanzania’s President H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan stated during the occasion that DRC and the EAC have a long history of cooperation. Samia expressed his hope that the Democratic Republic of the Congo will ratify the Treaty of Accession in order to ensure the full integration of her people into the bloc, and underlined Tanzania’s commitment to the East African integration process.
Vice president Prosper Bazombanza congratulated President Tshishekedi on his country’s accession to the community on behalf of Burundi’s President H.E Evariste Ndayishimiye.
More investment opportunities
EAC secretary general Peter Mathuki, speaking at the summit, said that the admission of the DRC to the EAC comes with increased GDP and market size, making the EAC home to about 300 million people, which would be mutually beneficial to the people of both the EAC and the DRC by providing employment and investment opportunities that come 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 Mathuki.
“With lower tariffs on goods and the removal of trading restrictions among partner tates, 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.