By Uganda online Media
Kampala: President Museveni and his Kenyan counterpart have said that the move by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to join the East African Community is of great significance and will enhance cross-border trade and economic transformation.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has joined the East African Community (EAC) as its seventh member, massively expanding the territory of the trade bloc, giving it access to the Atlantic Ocean, and greatly increasing the numbers of French speakers in what began as a club of former British colonies.
Museveni noted that he in particular had been waiting for the last 60 years for DRC to reconnect with EAC.
“DRC has strong historical, social and cultural links with the EAC Partner States. It is the onus of the EAC to now work on restoring peace and stability in Eastern DRC, a fete we can achieve by working together,” he said on Tuesday as DRC officially joined EAC becoming its 7th partner state.
The summit of EAC heads of state at their 19th Ordinary Summit admitted DRC following a recommendation by the Council of Ministers.
Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Summit, 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 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,” added the chair.
Kenyatta said that he was looking forward to the DRC signing the Treaty of Accession before the stated date of 14th April 2022.
The summit took the decision to admit DRC into EAC after adopting the report of the Council of Ministers that had recommended the same.
Welcoming his country’s admission into the EAC, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi 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.
Tshisekedi 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.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda hailed the EAC Council of Ministers and the Summit for fast-tracking the entry of DRC into the EAC.
“I call upon EAC Organs and Institutions to accelerate the integration of DRC into the Community. Rwanda is committed to supporting the process,” he stated.
Speaking at the event, Tanzania’s President H.E Samia Suluhu Hassan observed that DRC has a long historical relationship with EAC.
Addressing the Summit, EAC Secretary General 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 over 300 million people.
He said that this 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 Mathuki.
“With lower tariffs on goods and the removal of trading restrictions among the 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 noted.