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DRC officially joins EAC, becomes most populous member country

DRC entry into EAC pushes the region's GDP from Sh22 trillion to Sh27 trillion

President Uhuru Kenyatta with DRC President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi

The East African Community officially welcomed the Democratic Republic of Congo as the seventh member.

DRC was formally admitted to the EAC during the 19th Extra-Ordinary Summit of EAC Heads Of State chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 29.

DRC now joins Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan as a member of the community.

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The DRC is now the community’s largest and most populous member, introducing a market of 90 million people and raising the region's GDP from $193 billion (Sh22 trillion) to $240 billion (Sh27.5 trillion).

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a magnet for investment because it has 60 per cent of the world's coltan deposits, as well as substantial amounts of copper, diamond, and tin.

During a past virtual summit of EAC heads of state held on Wednesday, December 22, 2021, members expounded the role of DRC in strengthening trade and broadening the market of the bloc.

They also considered the bloc as a strategic security partner to DRC which has been continuously fighting rebels in the eastern part of the country.

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DRC, 11th largest in the world by area, is endowed with exceptional natural resources, including minerals such as cobalt and copper, hydropower potential, significant arable land, immense biodiversity and the world's second-largest rainforest.

DRC is already a key African market for Kenyan firms with the latest official annual data showing exports earnings from the country amounted to Sh14.3 billion in 2020 — only dwarfed by Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Egypt and South Sudan.

Some of the key exports to DRC are animal and vegetable fats and oils, pharmaceutical products, tobacco, iron and steel, leather and footwear, vegetables, fruits, nuts, plastics as well as paper and paperboard.

Despite the country relying on eastern African sea ports for imports, Mombasa handles less than 15 per cent of the share of goods sent to DRC, with Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Beira in Mozambique getting the bulk of the deals.

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