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Admission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) into the EAC: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

1. An overview of the journey of DRC joining the bloc

1. An overview of the journey of DRC joining the bloc

  • In June 2019,the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), H.E. Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, wrote to the then EAC Chairperson, President of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame, expressing his country's wish to be a member of the bloc
  • On 27 February, 2021 during their 21st Ordinary Meeting, the Summit of the EAC Heads of State considered the application by DRC to join the Community and directed the EAC Council of Ministers to expeditiously undertake a Verification Mission in accordance with the EAC procedure for admission of new members.
  • In July 2021,the EAC undertook a Verification Mission to the DRC with the objective of establishing the country’s level of conformity in accordance with Article 3 (2) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.
  • On 22 December, 2021 the 19th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State received and considered the report of the Verification Mission to DRC and directed the Council to expeditiously commence and conclude negotiations with the DRC for admission into the bloc..
  • The negotiations between the EAC and DRC were successfully conducted from 15 to 24 January, 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya, with Kinshasa reaffirming willingness to be part of the bloc.
  • Following the negotiations, the EAC Council of Ministers recommended to the Summit to consider admitting DRC into the Community in accordance with Article 3 (3) of the Treaty.
  • On 29 March, 2022 the Summit of EAC Heads of State at their 19th Extra-Ordinary Meeting, admitted DRC into the EAC following the recommendation by the EAC Council of Ministers. The Chairperson of the Summit and President of Kenya, H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, informed the meeting that DRC had met all the set criteria for admission as provided for in the Treaty.

2. What is the process of integrating DRCs into the bloc?

2. What is the process of integrating DRCs into the bloc?

  • Assession to The Treaty Establishing the East African Community
Designated by the Summit of the EAC Heads of State, President Uhuru Kenyatta who is the current Chairperson of the Summit and H.E Felix Tshisekedi signed the Treaty of Accession of the DRC into the EAC on 8th April, 2022. Thereafter, the DRC was granted 6 months to undertake internal and constitutional processes for the ratification of the Treaty of Accession. This internal processes includes the ratification of the Treaty of Accession by DRC’s Parliament.

  • Depositing the instrument of acceptance with the Secretariat.
After ratification of the Treaty, the DRC is required to deposit the instruments of ratification with the EAC Secretary General by 29th September, 2022. Thereafter, the Secretary General will be required to transmit certified true copies of the Treaty to all Partner States. Subsequently, the Secretary General shall register the Treaty of Accession and its instruments with the African Union, the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation and such other organisations as the EAC Council of Ministers may determine.

  • DRC will join EAC’s areas of cooperation
The areas of cooperation include: Trade Liberalization and Development, Investment and Industrial Development and liberalization of Movement of Persons, Labour, and Services.

  • Roadmap for integration of EAC
The EAC Council of Ministers is in the process of developing a roadmap for the integration of the DRC into the EAC as directed by the Summit. The roadmap will detail how the DRC will implement various EAC Commitments such as the Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union and Political Federation.

3. How will DRC’s admission contribute to the strengthening of integration within the East African region?

3. How will DRC’s admission contribute to the strengthening of integration within the East African region?

Benefits of DRC joining the bloc

i. Market Expansion:
DRC’s population of over 90 million has the potential to contribute to expanded market and investment opportunities.

ii. Geographical and geopolitical location:
DRC shares borders with 5 of the EAC Partner States, namely Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan. There is a sense of belonging and attachment to EAC socially, economically, historically, culturally and geographically.

iii. Interlinkages:
DRC has the potential to link the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Trade Corridor and further link the region to North Africa, Central Africa and other continental sub-regions.

iv. Infrastructure:
Development of infrastructure in DRC will facilitate connectivity of the East to the Atlantic coast and Southern Africa to Northern and West Africa. Connecting the DRC railway network with the EAC will provide an opportunity for increasing access to both DRC and EAC markets. This interconnectivity of railroads also has the potential of reducing the cost of intra-regional trade.

v. Strengthening EAC Power pool:
Development of the INGA Dam is an Agenda 2063 flagship project that can contribute to the East African Power Pool.

4. What are the benefits of DRC joining the EAC?

4. What are the benefits of DRC joining the EAC?

  • DRC will benefit from the larger EAC Commn Market and Common External Tariff framework

  • DRC will also have access to the seaports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam at competitive rates.

5. How is the EAC preparing to accommodate Swahili and French as official languages?

5. How is the EAC preparing to accommodate Swahili and French as official languages?

The Secretariat has developed a proposal for simultaneous translation of Kiswahili and French during EAC Statutory Meetings that is due for consideration by the EAC Council of Ministers.

6. How is EAC prepared to handle the cases of instability and conflict in DRC?

6. How is EAC prepared to handle the cases of instability and conflict in DRC?

As established under Article 124 of the EAC Treaty, with DRC being part of the EAC, it will benefit from the Partner States’ commitment to foster and maintain an atmosphere that is conducive to peace and security through co-operation and consultations with a view to prevent, better manage, and resolve disputes and conflicts between them. Further, the DRC will benefit from various regional cooperation mechanisms that address regional security issues such as cross border crime, provision of mutual assistance in criminal matters including the arrest and repatriation of fugitive offenders and the exchange of information on national mechanisms for combating criminal activities.

7. How is EAC addressing the issue of Non-Tariff Barriers?

7. How is EAC addressing the issue of Non-Tariff Barriers?

Disputes emanating from imposition by member countries of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) are part of challenges faced by most regional economic communities, EAC included. NTBs hinder intra-regional trade and by extension, economic growth and prosperity in the region. EAC has established a Trade Remedies Committee that will address these NTBs and trade disputes before they get to higher levels like the EAC Council and even the Summit. It is hoped that the Trade Remedies Committee should be operational before the end of 2022. The EAC and the East African Business Council (EABC) have also set up a Technical Working Group (TWG) whose core task is to resolve trade disputes before they are escalated higher.

8. Why is the EAC not changing its name now that DRC which sits in Central and Western Africa has joined the bloc?

8. Why is the EAC not changing its name now that DRC which sits in Central and Western Africa has joined the bloc?

This is because DRC joined the bloc guided by the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, which entered into force on 7th July, 2000. One of the criteria for new members applying for admission into the bloc is ‘Acceptance of the Community as set out in the Treaty.’ Change of names would therefore require amendment of the Treaty.

9. Can any country join the EAC or what parameters are used to allow some?

9. Can any country join the EAC or what parameters are used to allow some?

As per Article 3 (2) of the Treaty Establishing the EAC, when a Partner State applies to join the following factors are looked into:
  1. Geographical proximity to and inter-dependence between it and the Partner States;
  2. Acceptance of the Community as set out in this Treaty;
  3. Adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice;
  4. Potential contribution to the strengthening of integration within the East African region;
  5. Establishment and maintenance of a market-driven economy; and
  6. Social and economic policies being compatible with those of the Community

10. What is the progress of admission of countries like Somalia which have applied to join?

10. What is the progress of admission of countries like Somalia which have applied to join?

In February 2021, during the 21st Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State, the Summit noted that the verification exercise for the admission of the Federal Republic of Somalia into the EAC had not been undertaken and directed the EAC Council of Ministers to follow up on the exercise. This is now a process in the pipeline.

11. Will EAC be updating their logo to include the new members?

11. Will EAC be updating their logo to include the new members?

The EAC is currently in the process of finalizing its new brand architecture that is dynamic and will not require revision in the event of admission of new members. The new EAC corporate identity will hopefully be unveiled by the end of 2022.


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