The Democratic Republic of Congo last week opened its doors to Kenyans as it signalled further interest to integrate under the East African Community.
A circular publicised on Wednesday last week by the Directorate of Migration in the DRC said Kenyans will no longer be required to get visas before travelling to the DRC, effective September 01, the same day Kenya lifted visa requirements on Congolese. The DRC has also opened doors to Tanzanians while Dar in August lifted visa requirements for Congolese nationals.
The new policy is aimed at facilitating movement of people within the region and could offer an opportunity to increase trade with neighbours. With a size of 2.4 million km² and a population of 100 million, the DRC has been seen by Kenya as a potential market for its banking and transportation sectors.
Less than 10 percent of the population have bank accounts and just 13 percent can access mobile financial services, according to official data. Kenya has already increased its investment in this sector with Equity Bank and KCB Bank already in the DRC.
The DRC signed the Treaty of Accession into the EAC on April 8, 2022 and was granted six months to undertake internal and constitutional processes for the ratification of the treaty.
But Kinshasa must do more to boost integration. The DRC parliament has to move with speed to repeal laws that are not in conformity with the EAC Common Market Protocol. The DRC is expected to align its internal laws to those of the EAC as prescribed under the EAC protocols of Customs Union, Common Market, and the political federation.
The DRC is expected to align its internal custom laws, establish free trade (or zero duty imposed) on goods and services and agree on a common external tariff.
It will also have to align its internal laws to the EAC Trade Remedies Committee under the Customs Union, which handles matters pertaining to Rules of Origin, anti-dumping measures, subsidies and countervailing, safeguard measures and dispute settlement.
The DRC is expected to ensure non-discrimination of nationals from other partner states on grounds of nationality and to ensure equal treatment to nationals of partner states, including permitting them to work within the DRC.
An EAC national has the right to travel to the DRC using an ID or a passport without discrimination on grounds of nationality, religion or race.
DRC is expected to align its internal laws to conform with the CMP on the right of establishment including change of labour laws to allow an EAC national to work and port pensions funds among other employment laws.
SOURCE: THE EAST AFRICAN