East Africa Community Must Safeguard DRC for Its Own Good

Comment — I recently wrote a piece on what to do to avoid inter-member conflicts in the new East African Community (EAC). Sadly, nobody’s interested in it. It died an unnatural death. However, I still read about a simmering conflict between Kinshasa and Kigali over the M23, a rebel group based in the DRC, which’s set two EAC members against each other. The DRC openly accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23.

It is a wee shell-shocking to know that the EAC myopically seems to allow the destabilisation of the giant among its members. The DRC has much more to offer to the EAC than receive. Just imagine what a country of 2,345,409 km2 with the population of approx. 90 million inhabitants can offer to the regional body whose size is 2,467,202 km2. and population of approx. 184 million inhabitants.

Considering its humungous landmass, untapped resources, many economic opportunities, and significance not to mention its strategic location among others, the DRC isn’t only vital but also a lifeline for the region’s development.

The roles it’ll play in the EAC aren’t for itself but also for the entire East African region in general. Importantly, the DRC has more to offer when it comes to land and resources than the members of EAC put together. Therefore, whoever wishes the EAC to rise and shine, must consider DRC’s security and tranquility.

For, DRC’s non-EAC’s member neighbours such as Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Republic of Congo have no plan to form any economic community or make use of its humungous resources. If they’d, they’d easily lure it into their fold because of the cultural, colonial, linguistic closeness they share. Had they been smart, they’d have already snatched this opportunity.

News that DRC is complaining about being sabotaged needs to be handled urgently. The lack of a solution to this problem doesn’t augur well for those who wish to see the EAC become a force to reckon with not only in the region but also in the continent. How can such a player been treated with disdain while its membership to the EAC is likely to spur all goals the community has ever aspired to achieve? How come such a giant is ignored even when it complains about being violated? Is there any dirty politics being played for the peril of the EAC? What’s amiss here? Who needs another regardless of our land mass size? This column seeks, inter alia, to answer these questions.

What is it about the DRC?

Firstly, the fact that DRC is the newest member means it needs to be treated like a baby.

Secondly, the DRC has a chunk of population of over 80 million that can add up to the market regionally. Market power is something everybody wants.

Thirdly, the DRC’s has humungous source of resources of value particularly fertile and virgin land, minerals, timber, lakes, and rivers.

Fourthly, the DRC has predictable weather when it comes to farming, which factor top up to its natural significance.

Fifthly, the DRC’s such a mammoth landmass equal to the size of the EAC whose population compared to its landmass is sparser than the EAC, which can help to combat land scarcity shall the EAC decide to unite and form a single country.

Tanzania with the landmass bigger than both original founder of EAC put together, for instance, used to drag its feet for fear of allowing other tiny countries without land or resources like it comparably to help themselves on its abundant resources and massive land. If ‘one nation’ is actualised, Tanzania won’t shudder or waver to fully embrace the community. It can now hang its hat to the community with confidence that now things will work in the favour of everybody.

Sixthly, some academics posit that the DRC suffers from resource curse whose hex can be thwarted by a practical unification of the EAC. Burundi is a very good example. When it joined the EAC, its civil wars lessened and later the country became politically stable as it’s been ever since. If the EAC replicates the same to South Sudan and the DRC, chances are that the region will become another political and economic powerhouse to reckon with. Thus, there are no logical reasons of failing to solve instability the DRC faces.

Finally, the this disconnected giant cannot be calmed in the absence of peace and security. Despite having all goodies mentioned above, the DRC has one of the most dilapidated and poor infrastructure that needs to be titivated and established where there’s none. How can the infrastructure be improved without peace and security?

Although the DRC is on the Atlantic Ocean, it as good as a landlocked country due to the fact that its coast isn’t developed.

The EAC has all reasons to secure the DRC. For, if the EAC secures the DRC, apart from doing a right thing towards the reunification of Africa, it’ll also have actualised having a pool of critical assets for development namely, land, resource and manpower not to mention the market thereof.


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