Trade between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo has received a boost following a decision to scrap visa requirements for citizens travelling across the borders of the two nations.
Uganda becomes the third EAC Partner State to waive visa requirements for DRC citizens after Kenya and Tanzania.
EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki said that the move by Uganda and DRC to waive visa fees for their nationals was in harmony with the provisions of the EAC Common Market Protocol, which among other freedoms and rights, provides for the free movement of persons and workers across the region.
“Where people are allowed to move freely across national borders, trade volumes will go up. In addition to the increased trade, we are bound to witness free movement of labour, cultural exchange and domestic tourism in East and Central Africa,” said Mathuki.
Uganda’s main exports to DRC are cement, palm oil, rice, sugar, refined petroleum, baked goods, cosmetics and iron materials. Uganda earned $241 million in trade surplus from the DRC in 2020, and an estimated $177 million in informal trade exports, which pushes the figure to $418 million in trade earnings.
Mathuki said that the waiver of the visa entry requirements was a sign of political goodwill among the Partner States in moving forward integration, adding that it would go a long way in promoting intra-regional trade that currently stands at just 15 per cent.
“The increased opportunities for trade and investment in our region will fire up socio-economic growth across the bloc, which is endowed with huge human and natural resources,” he added.
DRC joined the EAC two years ago as its seventh Partner State. The other Partner States are the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.