Democratic Republic of Congo has begun penultimate steps to be formally admitted into the East African Community, signalling an additional market of 90 million people for the bloc.
In Nairobi on Monday, officials of the bloc launched negotiations with Kinshasa, promising to reach a conclusion before the planned timelines of March this year when the DRC is expected to be rubber stamped by the Community’s Summit as the seventh member.
“The EAC Council of Ministers is fully committed to drive this process to a conclusion. We all must jointly work tirelessly towards this venture,” said Adan Mohamed, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs and the current chairman of the Council of Ministers for the bloc.
Mohamed spoke Monday at the official launch of negotiations at Nairobi’s Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club, where the bloc will be ticking off crucial requirements for Kinshasa to meet, including agreeing to adopt certain laws on trade tariffs, customs, and movement of labour, to be in harmony with the bloc’s members.
And the country says its application to join the bloc is part of bigger plans to create a large and single Common Market in Africa.
DRC’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Christophe Lutundula Apala, said the country’s population of 92 million has the potential to contribute to an expanded market and investment opportunities to achieve a Common Market.
“We don’t always want to talk about our minerals. I think everybody knows about that,” said Mr Lutundula.
“DRC has a population of 90 million-plus. Those are consumers. So there is a market for the region. We will work in harmony in order to make sure that Africa becomes a common market.”