The Democratic Republic of Congo says it will settle dues to the East African Community on time, reflecting the country’s commitment to its new membership in the bloc.
On Thursday, DRC Deputy Prime Minister Christophe Lutundula said Kinshasa is ready to send representatives to EAC organs to cement role in the bloc it formally joined in May. The country, like other member states, is required to pay at least $8 million a year.
Most countries owe the bloc membership fees, however, with South Sudan leading with more than $20 million due.
DR Congo needs to pass amendments to its laws to allow free movement of people, localise trade protocols of the EAC and send members to the East African Legislative Assembly, East African Court of Justice and the Secretariat.
He spoke as the EAC kicked off its first mission to the country led by Secretary General of the EAC Peter Mathuki.
Read: EAC team on orientation tour in DR Congo
The mission aims to reflect on the key priorities for deepening integration and exploiting investment opportunities, a dispatch said.
It is also meant to help the DRC to improve the understanding of the integration pillars; Common Market, Customs Union, Monetary Union and Political Federation protocols; and the various governance instruments of the EAC to help it easily join the community.
Mr Lutundula said the DRC is preparing to “reorient its policies and resources to create favourable conditions for the development of international trade, to create favourable conditions for the development and achievement of the objectives of the Community.”
“As a member, the DRC will adopt legislation to ensure the effective implementation of the provisions of the Treaty establishing the East African Community.”
Kinshasa says it is already working on a policy for free movement of people, workers, labour, goods and services in the region.
Dr Mathuki said the DRC’s membership will expand the Community’s consumer market from 177 million to 260 million people, raising the GDP from $193 billion to $240 billion.
Although lacking in infrastructure such as roads linking the provinces, the DR Congo has 80 million hectares of arable land, over 1,100 different viable minerals and a market of 90 million people.