Unless something goes terribly wrong in the next couple of weeks, the Democratic Republic of Congo will start 2022 as a member of the East African Community. The EAC Council of Ministers last week approved DRC’s application after Kinshasa reportedly ticked all the boxes required to qualify for membership.
The EAC Summit of six presidents will go through the motions to endorse and then brother Felix Tshisekedi will join their select club as the seventh member.
Here are ten points to ponder before you decide to be excited or depressed about this important development.
1. The Common Market of the Community/Customs Union will grow dramatically from 180 million to 270 million people.
2. All Congo’s raw materials, including the most critical for harnessing clean energy in the era of combating global warming, will suddenly become locally available to the East African countries at their different stages of industrial development.
3.Citizens of space-constrained EAC member states will be able to grow food in the extensive fertile soils of the Congo that are abundantly watered by nature.
4.Free movement will enable hundreds of thousands of our young adults fathered by Ugandan soldiers with Congolese women one and a half to two decades ago to choose whether to complete their growth process/education in their fatherland or stay in their motherland.
5. As the EAC progresses to a federation, the little matter of $20 billion Uganda owes to Congo, which started as $10 billion following some crazy international court order, will automatically die off.
6. The poorest East African peasant/slum dweller will have mahogany and ebony to make furniture and finishing fittings for their homes.
7. All seven EAC members can just develop one power dam at Inga Falls to produce all the electricity they will need for all their factories, homes railways and vehicles as the world automakers speed up the outlawing of fuel-burning vehicles.
8. Today, the world is still horrified at the killing of six million Jews 77 years ago, but knows little about the killing of six million Congolese over the past 27 years in proxy resource wars.
The life of our Congolese brothers and sisters would be greatly revalued as the EAC heads to federation stage. But the reverse could happen if DRC’s joining causes the other East Africans’ lives to be devalued, by the forces that devalued Congolese lives over two centuries.
9. The expected East African Federation, a state stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, could easily become the most unstable state as it may not be prepared to take on the far more powerful forces that have been finding it easy harvesting the stupendous resources of DR Congo.
10. Even without/before the creation of the federation, the EAC having Kinshasa and Juba governments that are unable to govern their states, might expose the community’s limitations in getting its principles and policies recognised across the territory and erode the confidence even the older members have been having in it.
The summit of the EAC heads of state may wish, before signing the admission of DRC, to just study Turkey’s decades-old application process to join the European Union.
Joachim Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. E-mail:[email protected]