Following its 2022 admission to the East African Community, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been striving to eliminate obstacles to commerce and travel with its newfound allies.
The nationals of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will no longer need a visa. The announcement that visa payments would no longer be required was announced during the Grand Joint Commission’s eighth session, which was held in Kinshasa from October 12–14.
Citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will no longer be required to pay the $50–$100 (depending on the duration of their stay) travel fee to Uganda. The move will, according to the ministry of foreign affairs, “stimulate trade and strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.”
DRC, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Burundi are applying the texts on the free movement of goods and people within the borders of the EAC, which Kinshasa joined in 2022.
With a population of 98 million, DRC is a juicy market for its new partners. The country imports several products from EAC member states – according to Peter Mathuki, the organisation’s secretary-general, trade between the members of the community reached $10.9bn in 2022.
However, according to Article 7 of the Common Market Protocol, it is up to the individual states to apply visa exemptions. The document says: “The guarantee of the free movement of persons is not, however, an absolute right, as it is subject to limitations imposed by the host partner state for reasons of public policy, public security or public health.”
The EAC, which Kinshasa joined in 2022, has provisions on the free movement of people and products inside its borders that are being applied by the DRC, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, and Burundi.
DRC, home to 98 million people, presents a lucrative market for potential new partners. The nation buys a variety of goods from EAC member nations; as per Peter Mathuki, secretary-general of the organization, trade amongst members of the community reached $10.9 billion in 2022.
Article 7 of the Common Market Protocol specifies that it is up to the individual governments to decide whether to provide visa exemptions. According to the agreement, “the right to free movement of persons is subject to limitations imposed by the host partner state for reasons of public health, public security, or public policy. As such, it is not an absolute right.”
Tanzania also approved the exception, which took effect on September 1st, according to the EAC secretariat in Arusha.
Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were also able to discuss the matter of border security during the eighth joint commission meeting.
The issue of insecurity in Kinshasa caused mistrust among its neighbors when it joined the EAC; Ugandan forces have been assisting the Congolese in the area since March 2023 to preserve a semblance of normalcy.