Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda have announced that visas will be waived for their respective citizens. The declaration of the end of visa fees was made at the eighth session of the Grand Joint Commission, which took place in Kinshasa from 12 to 14 October.
Congolese citizens will no longer have to pay the fee of between $50 and $100 (depending on the length of their stay) to travel to Uganda. The ministry of foreign affairs says it hopes the decision will “stimulate trade and strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries”.
DRC, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Burundi are applying the texts on the free movement of goods and people within the borders of the EAC, which Kinshasa joined in 2022.
With a population of 98 million, DRC is a juicy market for its new partners. The country imports several products from EAC member states – according to Peter Mathuki, the organisation’s secretary-general, trade between the members of the community reached $10.9bn in 2022.
However, according to Article 7 of the Common Market Protocol, it is up to the individual states to apply visa exemptions. The document says: “The guarantee of the free movement of persons is not, however, an absolute right, as it is subject to limitations imposed by the host partner state for reasons of public policy, public security or public health.”
On 1 September, reiterating the links between Africa and the rest of the world, Kenya’s President William Ruto announced the end of visa requirements for Congolese nationals wishing to travel to his country.
“It is not fair to require a visa when a person wants to go home,” he said at the African Climate Summit, which was held in Nairobi from 4 to 8 September.
An exemption was also ratified by Tanzania and came into force on September 1, according to the EAC secretariat in Arusha.
The meeting of the eighth joint commission also enabled Uganda and DRC to address the issue of securing their common border.
When Kinshasa joined the EAC, the issue of insecurity in the country aroused mistrust among its neighbours — Ugandan troops have been working alongside the Congolese in the region since March 2023 to maintain relative stability.
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