DRC to join EAC bloc early in 2023

23Dec 2021
Marc Nkwame
Arusha
The Guardian
DRC to join EAC bloc early in 2023

​​​​​​​AS anticipated, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be joining the East African Community (EAC) - but not right away.

The annual meeting of the EAC Heads of State nodded to the DRC application yesterday, allowing for a period of one year to get the process finalized. Kinshasa will be processing its trading and travel regulatory environment to get into line with early 2023 when it begins to be properly involved in EAC activities.

The 18th ordinary summit received and considered the report of the council of ministers on the verification mission on the admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo to join the EAC, directing the council to expeditiously commence and conclude negotiations with the DRC for admission to the EAC and report back at the next summit, late 2022.

The summit was held virtually with the session being chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta, his last

EAC summit as he steps down next August, and the first for President Samia Suluhu Hassan after taking office nine months ago.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni participated in the meeting as well as Rwandan President Paul Kagame, while Burundi Vice President Prosper Bazombanza and Deng Alor Kuol, the South Sudan minister for East African Community Affairs, sat in for their respective leaders.

Experts affirm that the inclusion of DRC into the community is going to be positive in its trade, investments and natural resources impact, as DRC is the largest country in Africa, South of the Sahara and the second-largest on the continent after Algeria, and 11th largest country in the world.

The mineral-rich country has a population of 105 million and once it becomes part of the EAC the total zonal population for the East African Common Market will be more than double to nearly 390 million people.

Apart from the DRC application, the summit also considered a proposal to amend rule 11 in the procedural terms for holding the summit, directing the EAC Secretariat to convene an extraordinary meeting of the sectoral council for legal and judicial Affairs to work on this proposal.

The results will then be tabled for consideration by the next summit, the resolution affirmed.