News & Up­dates:

The First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs, Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, has urged Ugandans to prepare for the quick and targeted investments in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Kadaga, who was presenting the Ministerial Statement to Parliament on the admission of DRC into the EAC, said that the admission of DRC into the East African Community (EAC) has a range of benefits and implications.

“The EAC will have a combined population of over 300m people that provides an expanded market with opportunities to produce and sell goods and services,” said Kadaga.

She said that with DRC joining EAC, it will have global connectivity from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. She noted that the move will support the existing trade corridors in the movement of goods and people into the hinterland of the Community.

“There is a need for quick and targeted investment in roads and related infrastructure to tap into this opportunity,” she added.

Kadaga told the House that DRC being a dominantly French-speaking Country, the move will open up the use of French in the Community. She said that the decision resonates with the earlier decision of the 21st Summit of EAC Heads of State held on 27th February 2022 that adopted English, French, and Kiswahili as Official Languages of the Community.

“The non-French speaking EAC Partner States, must now put in place modalities of learning and using French as well as Kiswahili as these are now the center stage of the official operations of the Community. I will be tabling a Cabinet Memorandum on how Uganda will implement this Summit Directive,” she added.

She added that the admission of DRC in the community would require more financial resources to enable the Ministry of East African Community Affairs effectively participate in all activities related to the Integration of DRC into the Community and more particularly bi-lateral engagements that will enable Uganda to leverage and competitively tap into the DRC Market.

She promised to present the Cabinet Memorandum to Cabinet on Uganda’s Strategy for competitively taping into the DRC Market.

Kadaga, also told the House that there is a need for the community to start putting sanctions on partner states that are not subscribing to the EAC and yet put conditions on the community.

Butebo District Woman MP, Hon Agnes Ameede wondered and asked what Uganda had to offer and sell to the new market of DRC.

“We are talking about products only, but DRC being a French-speaking country, there could be a market for English teachers. Will, somebody take a lead to negotiate this deal that can Uganda export English teachers to Congo?” Asked Ameede.

Nakawa West Constituency MP, Joel Ssenyonyi was concerned that even when the Common Market was launched in 2010, it remains hard for some of the goods and labor to crossover to member states. He said that such restrictions needed to be fixed if Uganda was to realize the benefits of integration.

He has also asked the Government to aid the local manufacturers by giving them tax incentives like they are given to foreign investors. He said that this will increase production giving Uganda more products to export to the member states.

Bukooli County Central MP, Hon Solomon Silwany was concerned that Uganda had a border with Rwanda closed yet the countries are EAC members and have a very close working relationship. He asked the Minister of EAC to explain what plans Uganda has with the new admission of DRC to EAC to avoid such happenings.

Kumi Municipality MP, Hon.Silas Aogon called upon the house to allocate enough resources to the Committee on East African Affairs and Ministry of East African Affairs if they are to earn the benefits from EAC on integration.

The Leader of the Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga called upon the Government to sensitize the people about the opportunities presented by the admission of DRC to EAC. He said that this move will solve challenges where some people in South Africa look at their fellow blacks as endangering their own survival.

“We need to sensitize our people on these opportunities on all sides of the borders so that we do not end up with challenges that we have seen where some people in South Africa look at their black brothers & sisters as endangering their own survival,” said Mpuuga.

In response to concerns raised byMPs, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs, Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga thanked the MPs for the feedback and promised to look into the concerns raised.

She promised to present the Cabinet Memorandum to Cabinet on Uganda’s Strategy for competitively taping into the DRC Market.