Talks begin on admitting DRC to East African Community

Talks begin on admitting DRC to East African Community

Democratic Republic of Congo is inching closer to joining bloc as negotiations start in Kenya

By Andrew Wasike

NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – Negotiations on the admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the East African Community (EAC) kicked off Monday in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Participants have been drawn from various sectors including legal, political, institutional affairs and trade and infrastructure.

Government officials from the EAC have also gathered in Nairobi at the request of Adan Mohamed, chair of the EAC Council of Ministers and Kenyan Cabinet secretary for the Ministry of EAC and Regional Development.

Mohamed said the negotiations are an important stage in the admission process of a country to the EAC.

“There has to be an introduction by the community to the new member, our treaty, (and) all the things that bind us as a community in terms of our protocols, what we have and they have, to look at it and say yeah, we think we can operate within this process,” Mohamed told a press briefing on the sidelines of the negotiations.

Mohamed said the DRC has been seen by the EAC as a lucrative market for other regional partner states as it boasts being the largest country by population and markets.

“The power of the size, be it in population, in terms of the market size, in terms of the natural resources and human capital that we can bring together jointly as the community, we will be able to benefit the citizens of our region,” he said.

Experts say the entry of the DRC into the EAC will be a game-changer for the region.

A report by Regean Mugume, an expert from the Economic Policy Research Centre, noted that there will be great potential trade effects of the Democratic Republic of Congo joining the bloc.

“The emerging results reveal that trade effects are positive among the EAC partner states, more so for Rwanda and Uganda given that they are the leading EAC exporters to the DRC,” it said.

“At a sectoral level, the largest trade effects will be experienced in agro-processing, metal products and mineral ores industries. These findings point to the need for EAC members to pursue (and) develop these sectors while pursuing an industrialization agenda to replace the DRC’s imports from the rest of the world.”

If admitted, the DRC, which borders five of the EAC states (Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan), will become the seventh partner state of the EAC with the largest population in the bloc.

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