Why it is prudent to support our defence forces in the DRC mission 


Kenyan troops to Congo being received by the Armed Forces of DRC (FARDC) at Goma International Airport on November 12, 2022.

Photo credit: Mary Wambui

What you need to know:

  • As we have learned from our history, foreign powers benefit greatly from ungovernable African states.
  • War created an environment that promoted the rise and growth of militia including the current M23 group.

As is the case in war-torn countries, the 1994 Rwandan genocide led to a refugees’ crisis. A large number ended up in the eastern part of the Republic of Zaire. These refugees teamed up with other locals to form militia groups which ended up fighting the government of the day. 

The militia led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila managed to overthrow President Mobutu Sese Seko. Zaire was renamed to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Interestingly, DRC has had more than three recorded name changes. This is a country with a proven track record of being run by militia groups. 

The DRC is the second largest country in Africa and the 11th largest in the world. It boasts of numerous mineral resources which remain largely untapped. It is known as one of the most biodiverse regions in the world with minerals such as cobalt, copper, timber, oil, gas, gold and diamonds. This makes it invaluable. 

As we have learned from our history, foreign powers benefit greatly from ungovernable African states. It becomes easy to exploit the land and its people. DRC has 11 major economic corridors that facilitate trade flows in the region so it should not be allowed to crumble or fall into the wrong hands as the East African Community (EAC) watches.

Kenya's economic interest

War created an environment that promoted the rise and growth of militia including the current M23 group. Further, there is a whole economic ecosystem that has become powerful throughout the years. Human trafficking, murder, corruption, armed robbery and mineral smuggling drive a whole economy in and out of the DRC. The direct effects of these are overall economic sabotage, slow painful deaths, insecurity and a struggle against imperialism.

The EAC was formed with the mission to widen and deepen economic, political, social and cultural integration in order to improve the quality of life of the people of East Africa through increased competitiveness, value added production, trade and investments. Kenya is a key player with DRC joining the community in April 2022. 

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta played a vital role in guiding the dialogue that brought DR Congo to the table. This was a step to effectuate the EAC agenda of guiding the free movement of goods, people, labour, services and capital from one partner state to another as well as the rights of establishment and residence without restrictions. 

Kenya has an economic interest in the DRC. Their stability would mean that the interregional trade would thrive. Our business people would be able to expand into Congo without fear or death. Growing businesses mean a prospering economy for Kenya. 

The deployment of the Kenya Defence Forces to Goma in DRC to support the restoration of peace in eastern part of the country is in the hope of achieving a long term plan. Peace-keeping is an expensive venture. The rewards might not be seen immediately. But just because you cannot see something does not mean it does not exist.

Diplomatic process

The DRC does not directly border Kenya. However, that does not stop refugee spillover into our country.  A preventative measure far outweighs a curative one.

Since its formation in 2012, the M23 has claimed that their war is with the government and the dictatorial turn that it took even after all they had done to rid the country of Mobutu. The current President Felix Tshisekedi has inherited the war from his predecessors and clearly needs all the help he can get to end it once and for all.

Mr Kenyatta will be leading the talks between the M23 militia and the DRC government as the facilitator of peace talks in the region. Mediation is a tough process. Should it fail, their government will need to be backed up by their local and allied armies. Picking sides in a war is a delicate diplomatic process. President William Ruto has spoken for our country in his capacity. We the people, and more so our armed forces, are bound to his word as the president of our sovereign republic.   

The KDF is celebrated in and out of our country for their efficacy. Their sacrifice and service should always be our pride as a country.

Ms Ngure is a strategic communications consultant. [email protected]


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