The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been officially admitted into the East African Community (EAC), Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced today at a summit of EAC heads of state in Nairobi.
The EAC Council of Ministers, the bloc’s highest decision-making organ, had approved DRC's entry last month after a series of negotiations.
President Kenyatta, the chairman of the summit, said DRC’s admission is “historic for our community and the African continent at large”.
He said the move underlines the agility of the EAC to expand beyond its socio-cultural boundaries to new peoples and open up the region for greater investment and trade.
“The DRC applied to be admitted into the EAC in February 2018. Today, four years on, the DRC has met all the set criteria for admission and we are all proud to have concluded all the regional processes for admitting new members,” President Kenyatta said.
Incentives for investors
In a recent statement, DRC Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen’Apala said the country was in dire need of investors and was offering incentives for entrepreneurs who would like to invest there.
She added that the DRC was keen to tackle security challenges in the eastern part of the country together with the EAC.
President Kenyatta said DRC’s admission is a major milestone comparable to when the bloc’s member countries met in a summit in November 1999 in Arusha, Tanzania, and signed the treaty to create the EAC.
The former EAC made up of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania had dissolved in 1977, but the member states negotiated a mediation agreement for the division of assets and liabilities, which they signed in 1984, making provisions for future cooperation.
The Arusha treaty came into force on July 7, 2000 following the conclusion of the ratification process and the depositing of the instruments of ratification with the EAC secretary-general.
“With the admission of the DRC, the community will significantly expand the various aspects of mutual benefit for all. Indeed, the combined population and GDP (gross domestic product) of our community will grow by 50 per cent and 25 per cent respectively,” said President Kenyatta.
The DRC's large population of consumers will bring on board a big market for the EAC.
President Kenyatta’s sentiments were echoed by his regional counterparts, who said that DRC’s entry into the bloc will boost cooperation in the region.
“DRC’s admission into the EAC is a big event as it signals prosperity to the citizens. As leaders, let’s continually strive to ensure peace, security and stability is maintained in the region,” said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
“The United Republic of Tanzania heartily welcomes DRC into the bloc. Kazi iendelee! (May the good work continue),” added Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu.