•In what would enhance travel within the EAC, Kenyans will be able to travel freely to DRC without a Visa just as they do other EAC member states.
•Kenya is leading Africa’s charge as DRC’s top investor nation with Equity Bank being the largest Bank in DRC and Eastern and Central.
Kenya is set to reap big after President Uhuru Kenyatta successfully brokered admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the East Africa Community.
On Wednesday, the 18 Extraordinary Summit of the regional bloc’s heads of state endorsed the admission of DRC into the EAC, making the country the newest member in the elite club.
The summit, which is currently chaired by Uhuru, adopted a report by the community’s council of ministers which recommended that DRC had met the requisite requirements for admission to EAC.
This was a culmination of efforts by the President to have DRC join the bloc, bolstering Kenya’s untapped opportunities in the gold-rich nation.
Uhuru has been leading the charge for DRC to join the regional bloc ever since the inauguration of President Felix Tshisekedi in 2018 as part of Nairobi’s strategy to expand its market.
While Tshisekedi launched his presidential bid in Nairobi in November 2018, Uhuru was the only African head of state who attended his inauguration in Congo.
During the visit, Uhuru proposed DRC’s admission to the EAC.
Demonstrating the ties between Kenya and Congo, Tshisekedi in his two years in power has visited Kenya four times more than any other East African nation.
On Wednesday, during the virtual summit of the heads of state, Uhuru underscored the significance of Congo’s admission to EAC.
“A key plunk of our deliberations today was progressing the aspirations of our brothers and sisters in the DRC to join with us in the East African Community,” President Uhuru said in his remarks during the virtual summit.
“I consider this as a testimony of not only the success of the East African Community but also the opportunities that remain untapped.”
The meeting was attended by Yoweri Museveni(Uganda), Samia Suluhu(Tanzania), Paul Kagame(Rwanda) and Prosper Bazombanza, Burundi Vice President.
Deng Alor represented South Sudan President Salva Kiir.
The DRC is Africa’s sixth-largest buyer of Kenya’s goods and purchases Kenya’s agricultural and manufactured goods more than any other product.
The admission of DRC is set to be a gamechanger in the country’s digital market search to boost its Gross Domestic Product by tapping the service industry.
Kenya’s products in DRC will be subjected to zero tariffs, tipping businesses for opportunities that would expand their markets.
In what would enhance travel within the EAC, Kenyans will be able to travel freely to DRC without a Visa just as they do other EAC member states.
All they will need is their East African passport.
Kenya is leading Africa’s charge as DRC’s top investor nation with Equity Bank being the largest Bank in DRC and Eastern and Central.
Last month the government and Equity Bank facilitated 200 Kenyans to travel to DRC to scout for opportunities.
Following the approval of the Heads of State, DRC becomes the second SADC member to join the EAC trading block.
The EAC is seen as the most integrated bloc among Africa’s eight regional economic communities
The EAC is better at free movement of people, infrastructure integration, macroeconomic integration, productive integration and trade integration than all other economic blocks in Africa.
When DRC joins EAC, EAC will control 10 per cent of Africa’s GDP with one out of every Sh10 that Africa will make likely to be made in East Africa.
Experts say East Africa’s total GDP will grow to $262 billion (Sh29 trillion) after DRC joins EAC with Kenya holding the pole position as EAC’s biggest economy.
This is more than all of the East African neighbours combined.
The road for the admission of DRC to the EACC has been a long one.
The Summit of the Heads of States had in February directed the EAC Council of Ministers to start the process of admitting DRC.
They directed the ministers to undertake a verification exercise under the EAC Criteria for Admission of Foreign States.
An EAC team visited DRC from June 26 to July 5 to verify the country’s level of conformity to the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.
On November 22, the EAC Council of Ministers, chaired by Kenya’s EAC Affairs and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed, gave the nod.
The Heads of State endorsed the proposal, laying the ground for the conclusion of the admission procedures to allow DRC into the bloc.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris