- Other EAC members are Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda
- The country will be the largest in the EAC bloc after Tanzania which has 947,000 square kilometres.
East Africa heads of states have finally today admitted the Democratic Republic of Congo to the trade bloc.
Speaking at a virtual session of the 18th- Extra-Ordinary heads of state summit, East Africa Community chair President Uhuru Kenyatta hailed the move to bring more states on board, saying that DRC’s 55 million population, arable land and rich mineral provides huge social-economic benefits to the region.
"I want to appreciate you all for heading my call to make this important decision for our region and future trade,’’ President Uhuru Kenyatta said at the forum.
Uhuru added that the fact that more countries are willing to join the bloc, it is a statement there is a good thing happening in East Africa Community.
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni wondered why DRC has delayed joining the fold, saying that locals share common Swahili language and that the Eastern part of the country is typically in East Africa.
The approval by heads of states follows an endorsement and verification procedure of the Council of ministers led by Kenya’s EAC Affairs and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed.
The Summit of EAC Heads of State at their 21st Ordinary Meeting held on February 27 had directed Ministers to expeditiously undertake a verification exercise in accordance with the EAC Criteria for Admission of Foreign States.
The process ended on July 4, assessing the suitability of the DRC for admission into the regional trade group.
The report observed, among other things, the institutional and legal frameworks, policies, projects and programmes, areas of cooperation with the other EAC Partner States and DRC’s expectations from her membership to the Community.
Tthe meeting was also attended by Tanzania's president Samia Suluhu, South Sudan’s Salva Kiir, Rwanda’s Paul Kagala and Burundi’s Vice President Prosper Bazombanza.
Speakers at the forum said that with the onset of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the development of infrastructure in DRC will facilitate connectivity of the East to the Atlantic Coast and Southern Africa to northern and West Africa.
Plans are also underway to connect the Burundi railway network with DRC’s, a decision that will provide an opportunity for increasing access to both DRC and EAC markets. This could reduce the cost of intra-regional trade.
Like its partner states, the DRC once admitted, will nominate nine members to the East African Legislative Assembly.
It will also nominate judges to the East African Court of Justice (EACJ). It is seen as strategic for EAC growth, due to its current trade relations and because of its vast natural resources that has great potential.
The country will be the largest in the EAC bloc after Tanzania which has 947,000 square kilometres.