It’s all systems go for admission of DR Congo into EAC

The DRC is the largest and most populous country to join the EAC, bringing a market of 90 million people and immediately upgrading the region’s GDP from $193 billion to $240 billion.

“The EAC has a population of about 175 million people with 15% intra-trade. The DRC has 90 million people. That’ll bring the bloc to over 250 million,” says Abdullahi Halakhe, an expert on African security. “That’s a huge market that will open the corridor from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.”

Known for its minerals—holding 60% of the world’s coltan, with abundant reserves of copper, diamond, and tin—the DRC is a magnet for investment. With a global push towards renewable energy, Halakhe argues that the DRC’s reserves of cobalt, which is used to make batteries for electric vehicles, will be the most sought after commodities.

Summary

  • The EAC secretariat says all arrangements are in place for the Extraordinary Heads of State Summit on March 29, when Kinshasa will be formally received in a virtual session.
  • Among the issues being discussed include the ratification process of the EAC instruments by Kinshasa and whether the process has undergone internal ratification through the Congolese parliament.
  • Already, Kinshasa has bilateral and multilateral cooperation arrangements with EAC partner states in various areas, including Customs, infrastructure and productive and social sectors.

“There is only one issue that we are discussing, and that is DRC,” Dr Kevit Desai, Kenyan Principal Secretary, EAC and Regional Affairs, told The EastAfrican. “The review mission is over, the negotiations are over. We are on the ninth step, which is basically creating a format for the Summit.”

Among the issues being discussed include the ratification process of the EAC instruments by Kinshasa and whether the process has undergone internal ratification through the Congolese parliament. “The DRC has a parliament and has to ratify their decision to join the bloc. Parliament ratifies such decisions. They still have to go to parliament and it can take six months or so. But they will have moved into the final step into now joining the bloc,” said Dr Desai.

The meeting was attended by all EAC Partner States ministers in charge of EAC Affairs and was chaired by Kenya’s acting EAC and Regional Affairs Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina.