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Faith Nyasuguta 

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s admission to the East African Community (EAC) is moving closer as the negotiations on its admissibility are at a critical stage of tariffs and taxes.

Currently, the technical team from all sectors of EAC ministries is converging in Nairobi to straighten out the tariff and taxes issues, a major step in admitting the DRC to the common market.

The team is set to give its report on the outcome of the meeting to the council of ministers in the next two days for consideration.

Over the years, the EAC has had a common external tariff (CET) that is levied on goods from outside of the region’s common market.

The ministers will have the final say on what would have been discussed on a string of issues including taxes, tariffs, infrastructure and energy. However, the decision on admission to EAC will be made by regional presidents.

EAC Cabinet secretary Adan Mohamed on January 18 said the report of the technical team would be ready in the next 10 days and will form a basis for its admission.

“This is a very important meeting that will play a critical role in the admission of DRC to the EAC,” he said.

At the moment, DRC uses the Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports. According to Mohamed, bringing the nation onboard would scrap off the need for tariffs and ensure a smooth flow of goods.

He added that the council of ministers and the secretariat have made progress towards expediting the process of admitting the DRC to the region.

The DRC Vice Prime Minister Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen’Apala says he is optimistic that the talks will agree on most of the things, particularly on tariffs.

“This is a very critical meeting and we expect that at the end of the day we shall reach an agreement that will make it easy for us to join EAC,” he said.


DRC’s President Félix Tshisekedi /Courtesy/

In December last year, regional presidents gave consent for the conclusion of negotiations that will see the DRC finally join the EAC bloc.

Holding talks at the extraordinary EAC Heads of State summit, held virtually and chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the leaders received and considered the report by the Council of Ministers on a verification mission to Kinshasa.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi launched the verification on June 25, 2021, in Goma. The team visited Kinshasa between June 26 and July 5.

The verification aimed at establishing DRC’s level of conformity with the criteria for admission of foreign states per Article 3 (2) of the treaty for the establishment of the EAC.


DRC neighbours /Courtesy/

DRC shares borders with five of the EAC Partner States—Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan—and is therefore geographically suitable for intra trade within the regional bloc.

The DRC brings into the grouping a huge market for the region’s exporters with a population of 90 million people, notwithstanding that it is also a source for raw materials and mineral wealth.

DRC has the potential to open the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic trade corridor and link the region to North Africa, Central Africa and other continental sub-regions.

The development of infrastructure in DRC will facilitate connectivity through the Trans-African Highway development, like the road from Mombasa-Nairobi-Kampala-Kisangani-Bangui-Yaoundé-Lagos.

On the other hand, the admission of DRC into the EAC is an advantage for Uganda which has been failing to successfully tackle rebels for more than 20 years.

EAC flag /Courtesy/


The EAC 21st Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State held on February 27, 2021 considered the application by the DRC to join the EAC. It directed the Council of Ministers to expeditiously undertake a verification exercise in accordance with the EAC Criteria for Admission of Foreign States into the EAC.

The verification exercise was launched by President Felix Tshisekedi of the DRC on June 25, 2021 in Goma.

Following the launch, the verification team undertook the verification exercise in Kinshasa, DRC, from June 26 to July 5, 2021. The overall objective of undertaking the verification exercise was to establish DRC’s level of conformity with the Criteria for Admission of Foreign States into the EAC in accordance with Article 3 (2) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.

The EAC was formed in 2001 with founders Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. Burundi joined in 2007 and South Sudan in 2016.

So far, EAC member states account for a population of 177 million citizens, 78% of which is rural – fertile environment for rebels.

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Faith Nyasuguta