The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, is increasingly seen as his own man. He managed to shake off his predecessor and perceived puppeteer Joseph Kabila and even be elected chairman of the African Union.
The world in general and Africa in particular have gained confidence in the “new” DRC under President Tshisekedi after being viewed as a failed state for decades. The president appears to be committed to reforms, fighting corruption and bringing relative peace to the troubled East, where dozens of militia groups operate.
After his election in the controversial 2019 elections, President Tshisekedi had to fight on allegations of election theft, claiming that it was actually Joseph Kabila who held the levers of power. But the Congolese leader appears to have realigned the country’s politics, taking control of the two houses of parliament that recently voted to oust Kabila’s Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga. His election of Prime Minister, Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, is seen as a reformer.
This new “status” for the Congolese leader has resulted in many of his African counterparts falling over one another for his attention to Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta , the leader of the East African Community who has worked to get the Democratic Republic of the Congo to join the bloc as soon as possible, takes a three-day tour of the country and returns home with a bag of goodies. It was also the week that Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, Somalia’s besieged leader, visited Kinshasa for a day.
In January, Paul Kagame from Rwanda sent a delegation to Kinshasa with a “special message” for bilateral talks lead several areas, “including politics, economy and security”.
While both heads of state and government spoke – separately – of cooperation on regional issues, Nairobi seemed to enforce its double shell of security and trade.
You have witnessed the renewal of an agreement on ocean freight management, a general agreement on cooperation, a bilateral security agreement and another agreement on defense. With the renewal of the freight management contract, Nairobi dangled offers to Kinshasa that increased the enjoyment of privileges normally reserved for EAC member states.
This signal from the EAC chairman means no less that it is just one It’s a question of time before Kinshasa officially joins the regional bloc. Indeed, the new EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki said on Friday that the process will be accelerated.
“As stated at the 21st Summit, the admission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the region is urgent and strategic, so I will Prioritize the approval process, ”said Dr. Mathuki.
The apparent political goodwill is understandable given that the Democratic Republic of the Congo, dubbed the “Giant of Africa”, has a consumer population of around 87 million people.
China to the top
Trade with Kinshasa is currently a reserve of China, South Africa, Zambia, Belgium and India, with China taking 31 percent ($ 2.07 billion) of Congo’s total imports (6.66 Billion US dollars) in 2019.
A new study by the East African Business Council in collaboration with the German Agency for International Cooperation shows that, given its size, the country offers an enormous trading opportunity Half of the population of the EAC member states.
The study, entitled “O. Trade Opportunities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: A Perspective from East Africa ”from 2020 shows that the potential for trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has not been fully realized by EAC member states, mainly due to the proliferation of non-tariff barriers and the The trade between them is informal.
According to the report, imports of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from the EAC are dominated by petroleum and oils made from bituminous minerals (excluding crude oil), wheat or mesine flour, rice, cement and palm oil can be obtained with EAC. The exports of petroleum are growing faster than those of other products.
“The application by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to join the EAC is a signal to companies in the EAC to focus strategically and operationally on the Prepare to open up the lucrative market of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To do this, a reasonable starting point would be to identify the trade opportunities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which are aligned with the strength of the business in the EAC, ”the report reads. a researcher at the Horn International Institute for Strategic Studies in Nairobi, there have been significant challenges for the integration of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These include domestic problems with infrastructure development and chronic insecurity, as well as economic and political disputes within the EAC itself.
“These should by no means be taken lightly. However, the enormous potential of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s nearly 87 million residents as a market for EAC’s goods cannot be overlooked. The inclusion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the EAC has the potential to reverse the current negative trends in trade volume with the EAC member states. “
Kenya has headed the line by giving Kinshasa a deal to make it happen. Officials at the port of Mombasa are helping with the rapid clearance of goods destined for the Great Lakes. The Democratic Republic of the Congo can be granted special clearing deportations with harmonized customs regulations.
All eyes will be on the port of Kisumu and what role it will play in this system.
” We intend to make a connection thanks to Kenya, the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. This work should start in the next few days, ”said an excited President Tshisekedi at a joint press conference. “It will lead Mombasa-Beni through Uganda-Ituri-Kisangani to the Congo. This will pave the way for energy projects. “
President Kenyatta said,” I want our two [technical] teams to work on solving the problem, that our people will be able to travel between our two countries. “
With the potential guarantee of a smooth flow of goods to the Great Lakes, Kenyan companies are preparing to search for low-hanging fruit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo against the expected competition through the EAC and beyond. Kenya has therefore offered to open diplomatic outposts in Goma and Lubumbashi in the troubled but resource-rich eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, which President Kenyatta said would facilitate consular services for traders. The two sides also agreed to harmonize their visa requirements.
For Kenya, the current annual trade with the Democratic Republic of the Congo is expected to reach Ksh 1.8 billion (USD 16.4 million ) and the percentage of the port of Mombasa in According to Kenya’s Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, George Masafu, the delivery of goods to the Democratic Republic of the Congo will increase.
“We would do a lot better, if only we made it easier to fly in and out of our two countries. There are many people looking for opportunity, and infrastructure and security are of the essence. “
That’s why Kenya Airways has signed a code-share agreement with Congo Airways to track routes for more frequent flights to Nairobi, Kinshasa, and other destinations. The deal also includes aircraft maintenance and mutual takeover of “excess” passengers.
Code sharing will initially work for two years, and officials said it could help both ailing airlines find their routes through Africa to maintain. Kenya Airways had flown to Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. Due to the new regulation, passengers from Nairobi with a KQ ticket could travel to other regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo even if Kenya Airways is not flying.
The partnership agreement was signed by Allan Kilavuka, CEO of Kenya Airways Group, and his Congo Airways counterpart, Desire Balazire Bantu, and testified by the two presidents and their ministers.
The Kenyan Equity Bank officially opened its Kinshasa office, BCD Bank, a year after purchasing its shares .
These businesses need to thrive in a safe environment. The countless rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are based where most of the imported goods are imported. The neighbors were accused of funding rebels to gain access to the minerals. For example, Uganda is currently facing a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice. In 1997, Kinshasa applied for reparations of Ksh 4.3 billion (US $ 39.1 million) for Kampala’s military intervention. The Democratic Republic of the Congo accuses Kampala of sending troops, supposedly to help, but looting.
The Congo has faced epidemics such as Ebola and measles, and is also fighting Covid-19. The human development index is bad, ranking 175th out of 189 in the UN index. And it has bad roads, but it is rich in wood, gold and other rare earth minerals.
The land, Constantly ravaged by civil war, it has only recently begun to stabilize. Kenya says it will send troops to the Rapid Intervention Force, an arm of the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo [Monusco] made up of African troops.