The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has joined the East African Community (EAC). Announcing its admission on March 29 2022, the EAC Summit Chairperson and President of Kenya, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta said, “Admitting DRC into the EAC demonstrates the agility of the Community to expand trade-centered partnerships and collaboration, and increase citizens’ trade and investment opportunities.”
In effect, Congo’s membership is expected to bolster regional trade, infrastructure integration, intermodal connectivity, one-stop border posts, and systems to reduce trade time and costs. The Country borders Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan. The addition of its 92.4 million population translates the EAC into 269.4 million population market, with a combined GDP of US$243billion. Reputedly, the EAC is Africa’s most integrated sub-regional organisation.
DRC President, Mr. Felix Tshishekedi is upbeat on the prospect of increased Intra-EAC trade and reduction of tensions 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.
With lower tariffs on goods and trading restrictions removed among partner states, more free movement of goods and services is anticipated. EAC populations are the beneficiaries of the EAC’s expanded market through DRC’s potential employment and investment opportunities. The integration is also expected to provide protection against terrorism, piracy and other trans-national crimes.
Furthermore, the railway network connection of the EAC with Congo will increase intra-regional trade access to EAC markets. EAC manufacturers will benefit from economies of scale, efficiency and competitiveness. The private and the public sectors need to be collaborative to tap into the benefits of the Congo’s membership of the bloc.