DRC officially became the 7th member state of the East African Community with President Felix Tshisekedi calling for a lasting solution to the conflict ravaging the eastern part of the country.
President Tshisekedi signed the Deed of Accession with EAC Heads of State Summit Chair President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House Nairobi, as required under the EAC admission procedure.
While recognizing the DRC’s importance in the area, President Kenyatta stated that its participation will open possibilities for enhancing commerce and collaboration.
“The inclusion of DRC into the community would place EAC in a stronger position to pool resources to create much-needed infrastructure, particularly the important transportation corridors going from East to West,” President Kenyatta stated.
DRC is a supplier of several raw commodities, including cocoa and minerals. For individuals working in the industrial industry, importing from the DRC will be less expensive, as well as exporting to the DRC.
The EAC protocol promotes regional free movement of products, capital, and people. This implies it will be easier to start new businesses in DRC and vice versa. Barriers to the free movement of labor and persons will be removed, such as those for work permits.
This means that it will be simpler to start new firms and get work without any constraints.
Entry into the EAC may let DRC nationals report human rights violations to the EACJ. Human rights violations are common in the DRC, and a reference to the EACJ may assist keep the DRC responsible in terms of human rights.
The DRC is the top producer of cobalt, a mineral needed to make batteries. Additionally, it is the fourth-largest copper producer in the world, which is essential for building the infrastructure of most renewable energy sources as well as the electric car assembly. There are additional lithium resources in the southeast, with a total estimated volume of approximately 130 million tons.
The majority of the mineral ores used to make essential components for electric cars and computer chips are found in Congo, two industries driving the development of future technology. Copper and gold are important materials that are utilized to create the chips, printed circuit boards, and monitors in a conventional computer.
Copper makes up 25.8% of the materials used to produce electric car batteries, while cobalt makes up 6.45%. More than a third of EV batteries are made of copper and cobalt together.
What DRC is bringing to EAC.
The entrance of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) into the EAC, with a population of 95 million people, has been praised as a game changer in a region where intra-trade, infrastructure development, health, and food security have all experienced setbacks as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
DRC, the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, will also be the largest in the EAC. It combines her French history with Rwanda and Burundi to offer the EAC a new identity as Africa’s largest Francophone bloc.
The DRC offers the possibility of opening the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Trade Corridor and connecting the area to Central Africa, North Africa, and other continental sub-regions given that it stretches from the Indian Ocean in the east to the Atlantic in the west.
The DRC will gain from the EAC Common Market and Customs frameworks in exchange for simpler, more cost-effective access to the markets and seaports of Tanzania and Kenya.
Samia Suluhu, the president of Tanzania, emphasized Kinshasa’s significance for infrastructural development during the admission meeting.
President Samia noted that the admission of Congo has the potential to inspire much more development in the area while pointing to the planned building of the railway from Tanzania to Burundi and, by extension, to the DRC.
In order to increase access to EAC markets and lower the cost of intra-regional commerce, she added, the DRC railway network must be connected to the EAC.
3. Continental Market.
The DRC is a member of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), and its admission to the EAC enhances the EAC-SADC relationship and supports current bilateral talks for a Grand Free Trade Area involving the EAC, SADC, and COMESA.
Uganda is the second-largest exporter to the Congo in the area, behind Rwanda. Cement, cooking oil, rice, sugar, tubes, and pipes are the principal products sold in Uganda. Additionally, it exports food, and traders are hopeful that Congo will become a market for goods like food, alcohol, textiles, and plastics, among others.
According to Rwanda’s Institute of Statistics, DRC accounted for 96 percent of Rwanda’s total re-exports in the fourth quarter of 2021, including food and live animals ($39.87 million) and mineral fuels and lubricants ($33.55 million).
Rwanda’s overall exports to EAC members, which account for 4.7 percent of all exports, increased in value by 32.9 percent in 2021 to reach $72.3 million. According to data from the national bank, imports from the EAC grew by 6.4 percent.
4. Trade and Investment.
The admission of the DRC requires integrating the EAC’s commercial infrastructure, intermodal connections, one-stop border posts, and systems to shorten trade times and save costs.
“We hope that products and services will travel more freely with lower tariffs on items and the elimination of commercial barriers among partner countries.”
With a broader market, EAC manufacturers would benefit from economies of scale, making them more efficient and competitive,” said EAC Secretary-General Peter Mathuki.
The bloc’s transition into the most alluring trade and investment destination in Africa, according to the private sector, is marked by Congo’s admittance.