East Africa

Uhuru to lead DRC’s EAC entry pact signing in Nairobi on Friday


President Uhuru Kenyatta and President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo in a joint press address at the Palais de la Nation in Kinshasa. PHOTO | PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta will lead the signing ceremony for entry of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into the six-nation East Africa Community (EAC) this week, adding to the country’s more than 90 million market population to the regional trading bloc.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent to the Business Daily newsroom on Wednesday, said DRC president Felix Antoine Tshisekedi will be in Nairobi for a two-day official visit from Thursday to Friday, which will also mark the signing ceremony.

“During the visit President Tshisekedi together with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Chair of the EAC Summit of Heads of State will sign the treaty of accession by Democratic Republic of Congo to the East Africa Community (EAC) at Statehouse Nairobi on 8th April 2022,” said the Foreign Affairs ministry.

“The ceremony will be witnessed by Heads of State from the EAC Partner states. The Heads of State and Government will thereafter unveil the new map of the East African Community.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo was officially admitted to the EAC on March 29, 2022, during the 19th Extraordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State.

The EAC common market was set up in 2010 to allow the free movement of goods and people across borders. It consists of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

DRC’s entry into the EAC bloc comes at a time a growing list of Kenyan companies is looking for investment opportunities in the DRC.

With a surface area equivalent to that of Western Europe, the DRC is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, offering huge untapped opportunities for access to one of the world's last economic frontiers.

It is endowed with exceptional natural resources, including minerals such as cobalt and copper, hydropower potential, significant arable land, immense biodiversity, and the world's second-largest rainforest.

The African Development Bank has noted that normalisation of the political situation and a new determination to reform and fight corruption in the Central African nation has instilled a climate of confidence, promoting new private investment.

The World Bank says that with 80 million hectares of arable land and over 1,100 listed minerals and precious metals, DRC has the potential to become one of the richest economies on the continent and a driver of African growth, if it can overcome its political instability and improve governance.