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The DRC is Now the Biggest Country in East Africa’s Trading Bloc

Trade in eastern Africa is set for a boost after officially welcoming its seventh member, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), into the East Africa Community (EAC) this week. Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda are the other members. The DRC is the largest and most populous country to join the EAC, bringing a market of 90 million people and immediately upgrading the region’s GDP from $193 billion to $240 billion. Despite sharing borders with five EAC members, the East African Business Council reports trade between the DRC and its neighbors has been surprisingly low. Over the last seven years, the proportion of EAC exports to the DRC has averaged only 13.5%. The DRC’s top importers are currently China, South Africa, and Zambia. But now, business and trading opportunities could grow in the region. Known for its minerals—holding 60% of the world’s coltan, with abundant reserves of copper, diamond, and tin—the DRC is a magnet for investment. With a global push towards renewable energy, Halakhe argues that the DRC’s reserves of cobalt, which is used to make batteries for electric vehicles, will be the most sought after commodities.