EAC Heads of State clear the path for DRC admission into bloc
Regional Head of States representing the East African Community (EAC) have cleared the path for the admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into the bloc.
The green light was made at the 18th Extra Ordinary Summit of EAC Heads of State on Wednesday, which considered and adopted a verification report which backed DRC’s inclusion to the bloc with the country having met the basic criteria for admission.
The Heads of State have now directed the EAC Council to commence and conclude negotiations with the DRC and report the progress from the deliberation at the next ordinary summit in 2022.
“I consider this as a testament of not only the success of the East African Community but also the opportunities that remain untouched. This is also an affirmation of our efforts to deepen integration and widen cooperation,” said the EAC’s Summit Chairperson and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta.
According to EAC Secretary-General Dr. Peter Mathuki, the integration of the DRC into the regional bloc is already through 7 out of 10 agreed stages at present.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni expects the admission of the DRC to enable the bloc to leverage the economies of scale.
“Integration offers solutions to the problem of prosperity, strategic security and friendship. For instance, the more buyers you have, the better. This is the logic of integration,” he said.
Upon admission, the DRC is expected to join a bloc with an estimated population of 177 million persons and an estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Ksh.21.9 trillion ($193.7 billion) as of 2019.
Kenya is presently at the helm of EAC leadership having produced the current Summit Chair, Council Chairperson and Secretary-General.
Of the six EAC members, Kenya is seemingly the most eager party for DRC’s integration having recently completed a 15-day business trip of the country’s four major cities in an expedition which involved over 2,000 local business persons.
DRC’s population of 90 million persons has been tipped to have the potential to contribute to expanded market and investment opportunities.
The DRC shares its border with five of the six EAC partners including Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.