EAC officially admits DRC amid high hopes

EAC officially admits DRC amid high hopes
East African president clap during the unveiling of the new map of East African Community (EAC). [Photo: Courtesy]

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, yesterday signed the treaty for the official admission of the DRC into the East African Community (EAC). Kenyatta signed the treaty as the chairperson of the Summit of the East African Community at the State House in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Secretary-General of the East African Community, Peter Mathuki, noted that the accession of the EAC would boost trade in the region, by increasing the population by 50 per cent, the GDP by 22 per cent and the territorial area expansion by 79 per cent.

“Indeed today marks a momentous stage in the growth of the community. I wish to appreciate in a very special way the heads of state for their commitment to providing impetus to regional integration and guidance that you will continue to give to the community, ” Mathuki said.

Territory on increase

“The expanded membership makes the community bigger with almost 50 per cent increase in population, a 22 per cent increase in GDP, 79 per cent expanded territorial area, spanning from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.”

He said the DRC would have until September 29, 2022, to ratify the treaty and submit it to the Secretary-General of the East African Community.

Mathuki reiterated that the accession of DRC was a milestone for the people to explore opportunities in trade, agriculture, manufacturing, technology, and education among others.

“Upon signing of the treaty today, DRC will have until September 29, 2022, to undertake its constitutional processes to ratify the treaty and submit to the secretary-general of the community. DRC will subsequently join the programs and activities in line with the four pillars of regional integration,” he added.

Importance of accession

President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that the accession of DRC would boost the economy and encourage the competitiveness of partner states in Africa and the world at large.

 “The accession of the DRC as a member of the East African Community, will, even more, elevate these gains and more importantly, it will strengthen our economic muscles and competitiveness in the continent as well as globally,” said Kenyatta.

President Tshisekedi said the Congolese people were happy for the accession, adding that they were much more interested in security stabilisation rather than economic gains.

 “I promise to implement everything so that this membership can be concretised during my first mandate as the President of the country. This membership contributes to the consolidation of economic benefits of our countries. The DRC will actually play its role within the community so that it can become even stronger and more prosperous,” he noted.

The President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, said the three key areas of integration were a common language, Swahili, prosperity, and security across the region.

The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, reaffirmed Rwanda’s commitment to supporting the integration of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Wakeup call

On Sunday, the economic advisor for the Economic Cluster, Dr Abraham Maliet Mamer, said South Sudan should wake up to the admission of the DRC into the East African Community.

He stressed that the country must have protocols on trade, investment, double tax avoidance and labour, adding that the labour policy must be strengthened for the employment of nationals and foreigners.

“I think it is a wake-up call for South Sudan since new members are being admitted into the bloc, South Sudan must work to wake up interest. The interest must be coded through protocols, so we have trade protocols, investment protocols, double taxation avoidance protocols, and labour protocols,” Dr. Abraham said.

“It is a bad time now for us. Whenever we are admitting new members as a nation, we should now try to tighten our internal regulations so that we protect our labour market,’’ he urged.

He added that the advantage would be toughening security and curbing smuggling of goods into the East African territories.

 “One of the main things that I believe is important is that the goods that were being smuggled into territories without going through the proper trade arrangements and trade protocols will now be made available, and they will be taxed,” Dr. Abraham  noted.

“So, the borders will benefit from the border tax. However, like South Sudan, we need to establish a strong trade and investment protocol with these neighbours. The principle of East Africa does not negate the fact that sovereign states can have their own protocols to protect each other’s investments.

DRC’s EAC integration timeline

June 25, 2021: The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshishekedi, officiated over the launch of the East African Community Verification Mission to find out the suitability of the admission of DRC into the EAC.

January 17, 2022: the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Christophe Pen’Apala promised that his country was committed to speeding up the process of admission for trade and investment as well as the exploitation of natural and natural resources to start.

March 29, 2022: The 19th Summit of Heads of States resolved to admit DRC, and designated the President of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta who is the Chairperson of the EAC Summit of Heads of State to sign the treaty with the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo on April 14, 2022.

April 8, 2022: DRC finally joins the East African Community officially after the signing of the treaty but still awaits ratification for full participation.

September 29, 2022: The DRC will be expected to ratify their admission by depositing all the necessary instruments.

EAC stats after DRC entry

Population: the accession of DRC into the EAC increases the population which is estimated to be 177 million by 50%.

GDP: the Gross Domestic Product is expected to increase by 22% in the region from its previous amount of $193.7 billion, as of 2019.

Area: the territorial area of the East African Community will expand by 79% 2.5 million sq. km as of 2019.