Beginning January 1, 2024, a significant policy shift will occur as Uganda intends to abolish visa requirements for individuals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This change acknowledges DRC's membership in the East African Community (EAC), marking a milestone in regional cooperation.
The removal of visa restrictions aligns with the principles of the EAC Common Market Protocol, particularly Article 7(2)d, which encourages free movement among member states. This information is highlighted by VisaGuide.World, underscores the protocol's commitment to seamless regional integration.
This policy decision was ratified during the eighth joint permanent commission, which convened from October 11 to October 15, 2023, in Kinshasa, DRC. Uganda's Ministry of Internal Affairs also confirmed a mutual agreement to waive visa requirements reciprocally, fostering closer ties between the two countries.
The DRC's integration into the EAC, finalized on July 11, 2022, after its initial entry on April 8, 2022, signifies its dedication to regional unity. Uganda, in particular, is focused on strengthening economic relations with the DRC, following a trade surplus of $241 million in 2020, supplemented by an estimated $177 million in informal trade exports. The total trade value between the two nations is approximately $418 million.
In addition to these economic endeavors, Uganda and the DRC are collaboratively working on three major road projects within the DRC. These initiatives aim to enhance cross-border transport of perishable goods, reduce losses, and facilitate access to the DRC's lucrative mining areas.
Previously, the DRC and Uganda had jointly abolished visa fees, a move explained by authorities as part of broader regional agreements involving DRC, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, and Burundi. These agreements are designed to simplify the movement of goods and people within the EAC.
With this new policy, Congolese citizens will be exempt from the previous visa fees, which vary from $50 to $100. The Congo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is optimistic that this decision will boost trade and strengthen bilateral relations. The DRC, with its population of 98 million, presents a valuable market opportunity for its EAC partners.
Moreover, the DRC's imports from EAC member states contribute to a significant trade volume within the community, amounting to an estimated $10.9 billion in 2022. This policy change is a testament to the growing economic and diplomatic bonds within the East African region.