The official induction of the Democratic Republic of Congo into the East African Community is a watershed moment for regional business owners and investors as it marks the formal rollout of a platform that will stimulate business growth, cooperation, and unlimited investment opportunities.
As a fast-expanding regional market with DRC, East African Community now boasts of increased diversity that will no doubt supplement trade with external partners and stakeholders for economic and business prosperity.
With the opportunities DRC brings on board, intra-regional trade will steadily rise as businesses expand and set up supply chains across the region.
Over the past few years, businesspeople looking to spread their wings to the vast country have had setbacks due to the economic policies in place for non-EAC members.
This significantly changes with the induction of DRC into the EAC bloc and indeed strengthen our voice in the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement as Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta clearly stated during the treaty of accession ceremony on April 8.
Kenya-DRC trade relations are also onto a new level with local companies now showing an increased willingness to explore the DRC market. When writing this, more than 26 traders and enterprises had made investment commitments as well as special requests to the DRC government for support in conducting feasibility studies.
The companies operate in fields ranging from manufacturing, mining, hospitality, real estate, and health; all of which have great promise in the over 90 million populated market.
The ongoing Covid pandemic has made it difficult for firms to burst out of their shells and grow sustainably. The effects and disruptions in global market economies have spilled over to the region constraining business growth. The snowball effect of this has installed ceilings on economic and Gross Domestic Product Growth rates for EAC member states.
Earlier projections showed a would-be negative growth for most members and, while subsequent readjustments have brought about general hope, sustainable economic recovery and growth of member states is still haunted by ghosts from a future we know so little about and a past we couldn’t fully control.
Growth of the EAC for a sustainable future will require increased aggression from business owners to tap into the available opportunities in the region.
The promise of intraregional trade between member states will provide a base for EAC members to compete with advanced economies in industries including Agriculture, trade, tourism/hospitality, and manufacturing.
The World Bank estimates place the growth rate of East African countries at 3.3 percent. This is low, even by our standards.
The promise for the entire region is there and has been made even more apparent with the coming this mineral rich country endowed with horde of opportunities. Businesses now have a golden opportunity to open their wings and get set out on a regional conquest mission.
Carole Kariuki is a business executive in Kenya, who serves as the chief executive officer of Kenya Private Sector Alliance