The East African Community Council of Minister approved a report and recommended the Heads of State Summit to consider the application of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to join the Community.
The Ministers further recommended that the EAC Heads of State direct the commencement of negotiations with the DRC, in accordance with the findings of the verification team.
“By DRC joining the Community will open the corridor from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean as well as north to south, hence expanding the economic potential of the region,” said EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki.
DRC has an estimated population of about 90 million people and is said to have the potential to contribute to expand market and investment opportunities in the region.
DRC shares border with five EAC Partner States of Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan and has established existing cooperation programmes with various Partner States at bilateral and multi-lateral level.
The Ministers considered the findings of the report set out to ensure DRC is a good fit to join EAC.
The report observed the institutional frameworks in place, legal frameworks, policies, projects and programmes, areas of cooperation with other EAC Partner States and DRC’s expectations from her membership to the Community.
The Council’s request to the Summit for commencement of negotiations with DRC will create a platform for in-depth discussions on modalities for harmonization of DRC’s policies and instruments to those of EAC.
Matters pertaining to peace and security, language and legal systems are among the areas that will be factored in for a strategic way forward during the negotiations.
This comes after the EAC Heads of State summit at their 21st Ordinary Meeting held on 27th February, 2021, directed the EAC Council of Ministers to expeditiously undertake a verification exercise in accordance with the EAC Criteria for Admission of Foreign States.
On 11th June, 2021, the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers responsible for EAC Affairs and Planning appointed the verification team comprising of officials from EAC Partner States and staff from the EAC Secretariat.
The verification mission was launched on 25th June, 2021 in the eastern DRC city of Goma at a ceremony attended by the DRC President, H.E. Felix Tshisekedi.
Following the launch, the verification team undertook the verification exercise in Kinshasa, DRC from 26th June to 5th July, 2021 with the objective of establishing DRC’s level of conformity in accordance with Article 3 (2) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.