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May 20, 2022

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo joins the East African Economic Community: between challenge and advantage for traders

The Democratic Republic of the Congo joins the East African Economic Community: between challenge and advantage for traders
  • innocent Buchu
  • BBC Africa – Goma

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Professor Joel Baraka in his office in Goma

Dr. Joel Baraka, professor at the Higher Institute of Rural Development in Bukavu and senior researcher at the Paul Institute in Goma, says the integration of the Democratic Republic of the Congo into the East African Economic Community should be an advantage rather than a hindrance.

A challenge but still an advantage

He told the BBC: “Our merchants have to be competitive, and that advantage should not be a handicap. So it’s a challenge, it’s a challenge but it’s still an advantage.”

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However, he believes that the DRC will have to reorganize its legislation in this direction.

He adds: “It is clear that it will still be necessary, at the level of our legislation, to know how to protect the young and the middle class without harming the interests of society.”

For him, the DRC should be up to the competition.

“Our traders need to position themselves because Ugandan, Kenyan and Tanzanian traders will also benefit from this Congolese market opening up,” he said.

Less trouble in sight

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Adèle Mbunda in her shop in Biréré in Goma

In Goma, the integration of the Democratic Republic of the Congo into the East African Community has already raised a lot of hope.

Phone in hand, she owns the shop.

She started her business with $20 she had used to buy two pairs of shoes to resell.

Today, she has to cross the border into neighboring Uganda to get supplies despite taxes and visas, other than her own mode of transportation.

This affects the development of its business.

“We get the supplies in Kampala. Right there, it’s not easy because it’s another country, and with the documents, the visa is just the same,” she said.

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Inside Adel Mbonda’s shop in Berry, Goma

But there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

“Because the Democratic Republic of the Congo has just assimilated into East African society, it’s really an advantage. It will help us earn the money we were wasting on visas, and maybe even help us with transportation,” she explains.

The young shopkeeper sees some prospects that could be promising.

The young woman explains: “I am planning my trip to Kampala. I will also think about how to open a shop in Kampala. I can also make them Congo style. I also get supplies in Kenya.”

However, Adele’s journey still has to wait a bit as the process of integrating the Democratic Republic of the Congo into the East African Community (AEC) has taken a long time and some steps still need to be taken.