Uganda’s exports to DR Congo surpass other EAC countries

President Museveni and his DR Congo counterpart Felix Tshisekedi, launch a project for the construction of a 223 kilometre road at Mpondwe-Kasindi border post last year. The road links Uganda to DRC. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • During January, Uganda’s exports to DR Congo jumped to $74.3m compared to Kenya’s $40.9m, which has for years been Uganda’s largest export destination in EAC and Comesa trading blocs. 

Uganda’s exports to DR Congo almost doubled those to Kenya, registering an all-time high, according to data from Bank of Uganda. 

It is difficult to understand whether  the January jump was a one off but the exports, which grew by 44 percent in January, according to Bank of Uganda, have been growing through 2021, peaking in January to an all-time high. 

Uganda has been exploring new markets for its exports to overcome challenges of trade blockades instituted by traditional trade partners such as Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. 

Bank of Uganda data indicates that Uganda’s share of export earnings to DRC increased to $74.3m (Shs267b) in January up from $29.9m (Shs107b) in December. 

 The increase opens up a new frontier market for Ugandan exports that have heavily suffered restricted entry in a number of East African countries in the last four years. 

Over the years, Kenya has been Uganda’s leading export destination among East Africa and Comesa partner states.

During the period, according to the Central Bank, Uganda’s exports to Kenya stood at $40.9m (Shs147b), which was a recovery from a drop to $36.5m December. 

The trend signals that Uganda is making inroads into the DR Congo market, whereas it has committed millions of dollars to work on the road infrastructure and security.  Uganda is currently conducting road works and military operations inside DR Congo with the view of creating a safe trading environment as well as dealing with terror cells, which allegedly have been using parts of eastern DR Cong as a base to destabilise Uganda. 

The increase in trade comes on back of the search for new markets by cement, steel, household items and dairy products manufacturers, who after experiencing trade blockades in Kenya and Rwanda sought new export frontiers. 

In the late 90s Uganda’s exports to DRC were just $0.50m. However, this has grown tremendously due to improvements in bilateral relations. 

Dr Fred Muhumuza, an economist and lecturer at Makerere School of Economics, yesterday said DR Congo holds so much potential for Uganda export marketing. 

“It is getting peaceful and growing into a formal trade setup. We are going to see more trade in that region,” he said, noting that because Uganda is land-linked with DR Congo, it holds a greater advantage over other countries. 

Uganda is connected to DR Congo through Mpondwe, Bunagana and West Nile. 

Another access route has been created with the constriction of the Kisoro and Bundibugyo access roads. 

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