By Peace Ainembabazi
KAMPALA – The East African Community (EAC) is set to benefit immensely by including DRC into the six-member regional bloc.
The EAC region is the fastest growing economic bloc in Africa, with growth projected at 6.2% in 2019, increasing from 5.9% in 2018.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has now officially applied for inclusion to the East African Community (EAC).
According to Wikipedia, DRC’s mining industry is a significant factor in the world’s production of cobalt, copper, diamond, tantalum, tin, and gold.
The same source also reveals that it is DRC’s largest source of export income.
In 2009, DRC had an estimated $24 trillion in untapped mineral deposits, including the world’s largest reserves of coltan and significant quantities of the world’s cobalt.
The United States Geological Survey estimates that the DRC has 1 million tons of lithium resources.
President Felix Tshisekedi the DRC President has on June 13 on a visit to Tanzania confirmed that the neighbouring country has made a formal application to be admitted into the six-member community of nations.
Growing incomes in Africa have increased the demand for exports within African countries.
The DR Congo shares borders with four of the six members of the bloc and Tshisekedi said during his recent visit to Tanzania — where the EAC is headquartered, that he is positive that membership would ease trade.
It is obvious and mutually beneficial that the DRC is seeking to join such an economic bloc.
In a letter dated June 8, Mr. Tshisekedi wrote to the current EAC Chairman, Mr. Paul Kagame who is also the President of Rwanda – seeking to join the EAC community.
Regional integration is vital for resource-driven diversification in Africa. Natural resources management, particularly in the mineral industry, can make a significant contribution to a country’s economic growth when it forms connections to the broader economy.
Mr Tshisekedi said that if DRC joins the community it will allow them drop customs barriers and increase trade between member states.
He further added that the desire of his government to join the community of regional leaders is so that they can work together for the development of their respective countries and in so doing, stabilize the Eastern part of Africa.
The DRC is already a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc.
Members of the EAC include Burundi; Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
South Sudan was the latest entrant to the EAC bloc, becoming the sixth member in 2016.
Somalia’s application for admission was frozen due to the prevailing political volatility in the war-torn country.
President Felix Tshisekedi has been visiting EAC countries since he took office in January 2019. He has made efforts to secure and strengthen ties with the continent’s regional bloc.