The Democratic Republic of Congo has been granted the green light by the Council of Ministers to join the East African Community (EAC).
The EAC Council of Ministers, chaired by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in charge of EAC Affairs and Regional Development Adan Mohamed, arrived at the decision during their 44th Extra-Ordinary Meeting held on November 22, 2021 in Arusha, Tanzania.
“The Summit of EAC Heads of State at their 21st Ordinary Meeting held on 27th February, 2021, directed the EAC Council of Ministers to expeditiously undertake a verification exercise in accordance with the EAC Criteria for Admission of Foreign States,” read the statement by the Council of Ministers.
An EAC verification team undertook the verification exercise in DRC’s capital Kinshasa from June 26 to July 5, 2021 with the objective of establishing the country’s level of conformity in accordance with Article 3 (2) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.
“DRC shares borders with five of the EAC Partner States, namely Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan,” says the report tabled by the Council of Ministers.
“There is a sense of belonging and attachment to EAC socially, economically, historically, culturally and geographically.”
The report observed, among other things, the institutional frameworks in place, legal frameworks, policies, projects and programmes, areas of cooperation with other EAC Partner States and DRC’s expectations from her membership to the Community.
The final decision will now be made by the EAC Heads of State Summit at a later date.
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 Burundi railway network with the 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.
In attendance of the meeting were Uganda’s 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs, Hon Rebecca Kadaga,
Present during the Council meeting include Uganda’s 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs Rebecca Kadaga, Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Liberata Mulamula, and Burundi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ezéchiel Nibigira.
South Sudan’s Minister for EAC Affairs Deng Alor Kuol, Kenya’s Mohamed and Rwanda’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Manasseh Nshuti joined the meeting virtually.