What you need to know:
- DR Congo July 11 officially became the 7th full member of the East African Community (EAC) after depositing instruments of ratification on the accession of the treaty for the establishment of EAC to the bloc's Secretariat.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) yesterday became a full member of the East African Community (EAC) after submitting instruments of ratification with the Secretariat in Arusha, Tanzania.
The delegation led by DR Congo’s deputy prime minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen’ Apala, joined EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki, who received the instruments of ratification at the headquarters in Arusha.
A statement released by the EAC yesterday indicated that DR Congo will now have full access to the community and its programmes.
“This now signifies that DRC can partake in EAC’s programmes and activities, and also join the various areas of co-operation with the EAC,” it stated.
Mr Mathuki said the milestone comes with several opportunities for DRC and other member states.
“This milestone presents numerous opportunities for the people of the wider East Africa to take advantage of; in trade, agriculture, manufacturing, technology, natural resources, education, and other fields of mutual interest,” he said.
He added: “So, I am very happy to declare that, today, July 11, the Democratic Republic of Congo has become the 7th partnerstate of the East African Community.”
Various key issues were also discussed during the meeting, including DRC’s priorities as they join the bloc, their expectations and details of the roadmaps in integrating DRC.
This move is set to strengthen the EAC economically as well as position the member states to compete on a global stage.
In attendance were dignitaries from several EAC member states, including Mr Martin Ngoga, the speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, Justice Yohane Masara, the Principal Judge from the East Africa Court of Justice, and permanent secretaries and staff from the ministries of EAC partner states.
DR Congo will also enjoy benefits such as free movement of people, goods and services, which will boost trade.
“The expanded membership makes the community bigger, with close to 50 percent increase population, 22 percent increase in GDP and 79 percent expanded territorial area, spanning from the Indian to the Atlantic Ocean,” Mr Mathuki said.
In March, the chairperson of the Summit of EAC Heads of State, President Uhuru Kenyatta, signed the Treaty of Accession with the DRC President of Félix Tshisekedi, at State House, Nairobi.
DR Congo follows South Sudan’s entry in 2016, Rwanda and Burundi in 2007, and the three original partner states Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda in 2000.