Somalia and DRC have been pushing to join EAC whereby the bloc is assessing their request to join existing country members including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan.
During the 21st EAC Heads of State summit held on 27th February 2021, the bloc tasked the Council of Ministers to fast track the assessment to identify if DRC meets admission requirements.
It is expected that new and existing members including Rwanda will benefit from the integration from different areas.
A political expert, Dr. Ismael Buchanan has told IGIHE that there are several benefits Rwanda can reap from DRC integration and vice versa. For instance, he pointed out enhanced foreign relations and security among others.
“You know that DRC has been engulfed by insecurity with the presence of rebel groups. It is possible that the collaboration of EAC country members can restore security in the region. Rwanda has several advantages to pull from DRC membership even though the latter also has a lot to learn from EAC,” he said.
“Usually, these countries have cooperation agreements in many ways. If there are standby forces to intervene in peace restoration without long processes, it is obvious that cooperation is key to putting an end to incessant wars,” added Buchanan.
Buchanan explained that these countries’ membership can reinforce efforts to defeat some of armed groups operating in DRC intending to destabilize Rwanda like FDLR and FLN among others.
“It doesn’t put completely eradicate these groups. It is apparent that political is necessary to eradicate an armed group like FDLR but integration can shake the group’s strength. Real cooperation between both countries can be fruitful to fight these groups if they are under one bloc,” he said.
Teddy Kaberuka, an economic expert has told IGIHE that Rwanda will also benefit from economic development through facilitating free movement.
“You know well that EAC has ratified trade agreements exempting import duties. This means, custom duties for DRC imports will be exempted. Our exports to the country will also get boost because custom duties will have been exempted on both sides. In fact, it can promote trade between both countries and enable traders to reap bigger returns,” she said.
EAC is a regional intergovernmental organisation of 6 Partner States: the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Republic of Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
The EAC is home to 177 million citizens, of which over 22% is urban population.
With a land area of 2.5 million square kilometres and a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$ 193 billion (EAC Statistics for 2019), its realisation bears great strategic and geopolitical significance and prospects for the renewed and reinvigorated EAC.
The work of the EAC is guided by its Treaty which established the Community. It was signed on 30 November 1999 and entered into force on 7 July 2000 following its ratification by the original three Partner States: Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Rwanda and Burundi acceded to the EAC Treaty on 18 June 2007 and became full members of the community with effect from 1 July 2007. The Republic of South Sudan acceded to the treaty on 15th April 2016 and become a full member on 15th August 2016.
As one of the fastest growing regional economic blocs, the EAC is widening and deepening co-operation among the partner states in various key spheres for their mutual benefit. These spheres include political, economic and social.