On 29th March, 2022, Congo joined the East African Community becoming the 7th member of the bloc.
In an interview with The Fatboy Show presenter Olive Najjuma on RX Radio, Director Noble Concepts, Economist and Public Health Expert David Kisitu, explained that adding countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo DRC and Somalia to the East African Community (EAC) will create a wider market for Uganda as well as easing investment.
“The addition of Congo to the EAC makes it a major benefit for Uganda in that its population of over 90 million people means a huge market for Uganda’s products. We are known for agricultural products such as maize, meat and dairy products. These directly impact on communities that stand to gain as markets are opened up to DRC.
He further added that the widening of the EAC will reduce Uganda’s dependence on East African Countries such as Rwanda where Uganda’s exports declined from 194 million dollars to 5 million dollars when Rwanda closed its border to Uganda.
Citing the key requirements for admission into the East African community such as adherence to universally accepted principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice, Olive asked the economist whether DRC was eligible for admission given the ongoing insecurity in the country.
“Everything has a beginning, when the DRC gets admitted, it will be subjected to ensuring adherence to the values of the treaty. It may not qualify right now, but the EAC can walk with them to ensure that they realize these values,”the economist explained.
Adding DRC and now Somalia has raised concerns about regional security as some people fear that these might spill into the other member states of the EAC. Asked about how the government will protect investors and traders to avoid loss of life that happened to Ugandan traders in South Sudan, Mr. Kisitu emphasized that Ugandans must be prepared to do business in the DRC because it's going to be at a high risk.
"The issue of insecurity shouldn’t be left to the DRC alone. It's unfortunate that as East African countries, we don’t have a joint security force to deal with insecurities within the different countries in the region."
According to Mr. Kisitu, having a regional force agreed upon by member states will not only help create stability in the country, but will also promote investment and trade within the region. He said that the same strategy was dissimilar to what needs to be done in Somalia after adding it on the bloc.
“We need to start from somewhere because if we don’t, those countries are going to remain a problem and challenge East Africa. See how many of them are here, if we deal with the situation in their countries, they will be able to stay in there, we will be able to trade amicably and be able to grow as a region,” he concluded.
The Fatboy show is hosted by James Onen aka Fatboy, Olive and Sarah every weekday from 6am to 10am on RX Radio.