The Democratic Republic of Congo formally submitted a request to be part of the East African Community (EAC). The request will be put under deliberation by the six members of the EAC when they converge for the heads of state meeting in November.
This request has come following several behind-the-scenes meetings between DRC president Felix Tshisekedi and East African leaders. Felix Tshisekedi has now written to Paul Kagame, the current chairman of the EAC seeking to be admitted into the East African regional bloc. The current members of the EAC are Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan.
In writing the request, Tshisekedi put emphasis on joining the EAC "so that we can work together for the development of our respective countries and stabilise this part of Africa."
The DRC shares borders with 4 of the EAC members. These are Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. Therefore, joining the bloc would go a long way in easing trade among these countries. The importance of integration is taking precedence here.
"The Democratic Republic of Congo has recently requested membership of the East African Community. This will allow us to drop customs barriers and increase trade between our countries," Tshisekedi said at a dinner with Tanzanian president John Magufuli.
"We are facing the challenge of regional integration that we must absolutely realise," he said. What he was also bringing to the fore was the need for co-operation as regards cross-border transport and emergy infrastrcuture. DRC is a country r
DRC is a country that is vastly rich in natural resources. Integration with the East African Community will mean increased trade. "Our countries must commit to development based on democracy and freedom so as to promote Africans so they can compete with other parts of the world," Tshisekedi said. There was also mention of constructing a railway that connects Tanzania's port at Dar es Salaam to the eastern DRC via Rwanda.
On DRC's part, there is willingness to co-operate with East Africa, and to be ambitious in opening up trade.
"I am sure that efforts by Tanzania government to improve business environment will play a big role towards EAC integration," said Mr Tshisekedi.
DRC also accounts for 6% of total exports from the East African Community countries. And it largely depends on the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam for imports.
Joining the EAC would be a good deal for the DRC, and for EAC at large.
Header image credit - RegionWeek