- The Democratic Republic of Congo brings more than 90 million people to the EAC creating a 270 plus million people strong economy
- The DRC has 80 million hectares of arable land and with more than 1,100 listed minerals and precious metals
- A total of five EAC Member States border the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is now a full member of the East Africa Community (EAC) having completed the final processes of joining the community.
DRC President, Felix Antoine Tshisekedi, has witnessed the signing ceremony where his country finalised joining the six-nation EAC this week with the signing.
The Central African Republic brings more than 90 million people to the EAC creating a 270 million people strong economy.
Estimates by the World Bank show that the DRC has 80 million hectares of arable land and more than 1,100 listed minerals and precious metals.
The resource-rich country could become one of the richest economies on the continent and drive Africa’s growth if it overcomes political instability and improves its governance.
Will membership in the EAC help stabilize the political situation in the DRC?
As a result of the country’s civil turmoil in some areas and the associated hazards, these have been evaluated before its admission into the regional trade bloc.
It has been Tshisekedi’s goal since he took office in 2010 to meet with EAC officials, despite his country’s membership in both of these regional organizations.
He has previously said that they expect many changes to take place within the community as a result of the DRC’s admission into the regional bloc
By strengthening East Africa’s historical ties, DRC’s accession to the community is vital. The accession of DRC will improve both economic and geopolitical ties inside the Community.
A total of five EAC Member States border the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan.
To that end, full membership in the EAC would benefit the people of DRC by allowing them visa-free travel to other EAC nations. In addition, the DRC will nominate nine members of the East African Legislative Assembly and justices to the East African Court of Justice, the Community’s judicial authority.
DRC’s eastern area, which relies heavily on the Dar es Salaam and Mombasa ports for its imports and exports, will benefit greatly from the country’s membership in the EAC, he said.
In terms of size, the DRC dwarfs all six EAC Partner States. DR Congo’s landmass is 2.4 million km2 in comparison to the EAC’s 1.8 million km2.
To join the community, the 1999 EAC Treaty stipulates adherence to good governance, democracy, rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice, potential members’ contribution to strengthening integration, proximity to and interdependence with the partners, establishment and maintenance of a market-driven economy, and social and economic policies that are compatible with those of the Community.
The treaty of accession by the DRC to EAC has been signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta who is the current Chair of the EAC Summit of Heads of State.
Witnessed by Heads of State from the EAC member states, the ceremony also saw the unveiling of the new map of the East African Community.
During the 19th Extraordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State on March 29, 2022, the DRC was officially admitted into the EAC.
To allow the free movement of goods and people across borders, the EAC common market was set up in 2010 consisting of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
DRC is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country and offers immense opportunities to investors interested in tapping into its natural resources, including hydropower potential, cobalt and copper, agriculture, biodiversity and precious metals.
Reform and the resolve to fight corruption in the DRC have instilled a climate of confidence that promotes new private investment.
The East African Business Council (EABC) that the DRC’s admission into the EAC is a historical and landmark milestone that will transform the EAC bloc into an attractive trade investment destination in Africa.
EABC notes that the conglomeration will offer a market-driven economy of 266 million people and a Gross Domestic Product of US$243 billion.
Following this milestone, trade is set to increase immensely with improved regional infrastructure connectivity and the implementation of EAC commitments in order to unlock trade opportunities.