What to expect as DR Congo plans to join EAC
On 21st February 2020, regional heads of state-directed ministers to expedite the admission of DR Congo into the EAC Bloc.
This comes a year after the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi wrote to President Paul Kagame, the current chairperson of the East African Community asking him for an opportunity for DRC to join the bloc.
Tshisekedi indicated that the move was advised based on the current working business relationships with the EAC member states.
“Would you kindly present to your counterparts – heads of state – our passionate wish to join the organization so that we can contribute to the development of this sub-region,” the letter reads.
The entry for Congo if effected analyst say will be a game-changer for EAC becoming a more powerful seven-member bloc with a market of 260 million people.
According to the EAC treaty, to qualify to be a member a country must be geographically near any of the members and observe tenets of good governance, human rights and democracy.
DRC also accounts for 6 per cent of total exports from the East African Community countries. And it largely depends on the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam for imports.
River Congo, has hydroelectric capacity 100,000 integrate present a big opportunity of EAC to grow.
In turn Congo joining will stabilize in terms of security; the country has suffered decades of Guerrilla warfare from warlords leaving the country fragmented in different factions.
Politicians and experts in international relations have welcomed Dr Congo’s request to join six members East African Community (EAC), experts say the country’s vast resources and 80 million population will be a boost to the region.
Earlier this last year, during a state visit to Kenya by Tshisekedi he observed that a lot of Congolese imports passing through the port of Mombasa are goods destined for Goma and Lubumbashi which is the eastern part of DR Congo.
Tshisekedi acknowledged the important role played by the port of Mombasa to the economic wellbeing of the expansive Congo which has a population of 70 million people.
The bid to join EAC by DRC follows the ever-growing trade between the business community in his country and member states of the East African Community currently at six member states; Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan being the latest.
The move will make EAC a much more powerful bloc. According to the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Economic Outlook for 2019, East Africa is the fastest growing region in Africa for the fifth straight year.
“The region grew by 5.7 per cent in 2018, and is projected to grow by 5.9 cent in 2019 and 6.1 cent in 2020. To fund this growth, the region has been investing heavily in infrastructure and other sectors, which has also increased the fiscal gaps and debt burden,” it read.
The country, a giant of Africa is 2.3 million square kilometres with 81.3 million habitats DRC is a big trading country to all the EAC member states.
DRC is notably a mineral-rich country with an estimated $24 trillion of untapped mineral potential; the country is believed to have more reserves of mineral resources than any other country on earth.
The minerals from Congo range from copper, gold, and diamonds to cobalt, uranium, coltan, and oil.
Notably, the country holds 45 per cent of the world’s cobalt reserves and produces more than half of the world’s supply of the mineral, commonly used in aircraft components and rechargeable batteries.
With the combined force, the EAC countries are anticipated to increase trade in the EAC bloc.