The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with regional trade facilitator TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) to improve cross border trade and enhance trade links between the country and East Africa Community (EAC) member states. The government of the Netherlands has committed $6.7 million to kick-start the projects.
TMEA will invest in projects involving already available resources such as water transport, simplifying trade processes through training and facilitating adoption of ICT around Eastern DRC.
They will comprise dredging and rehabilitation of Kalundu Port on Lake Tanganyika; capacity building and implementation of Integrated Border Management Systems on the border crossings in Rusizi between Rwanda and Bukavu; rehalibitation of the Ports of Kasenyi on the DRC side and Ntoroko in Uganda; as well as infrastructure work at the border crossing at Goli, Uganda and Mahagi, DRC. “Trade is a way to reduce conflict and unemployment.
The agreement will contribute to the training of cross border traders in trade issues, exporting and tapping into regional markets. This will especially benefit our youth,” Prof. Nehemie Wilondja, DRC Directuer du Cabinet noted. TMEA Director General David Stanton said they are seeking to replicate the success of similar initiatives between EAC governments and businesses to drive down the costs of trade along the key transport corridors, which include the border with DRC, in the country.
The institution has facilitated projects along the Northern Corridor from Mombasa Port, Kenya linking Uganda, Rwanda, DRC and South Sudan; and the Central Corridor connecting Dar es Salaam Port, Tanzania to Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern DRC by road and lake transport. Such projects have not only promoted cordial relationships and built trust among the players in cross border trade but also helped identify and tap into local markets and submission of requirements at border points effectively.
They reduce transit time across transport routes, enable businesses to diversify their products, supply market needs and create jobs. Stanton added, “We aim to ensure that Congolese businesses are competitive and that the benefits of trade along these corridors spill over to DRC.”