Uganda and DRC have signed an agreement that should dramatically improve commercial activity between the two countries.  President Tshisekedi and President Museveni agreed to improve three key road corridors as well as to remove certain regulatory barriers and other trade impediments.

Felix Tshisekedi (L) shakes hands with Yoweri Museveni in Entebbe, Uganda. (Photo by Sumy Sadurni / AFP)

The three key corridors slated for road improvements to access Ugandan border towns will include:

  • Bunia north to Goli
  • Beni east to Mpondwe
  • Goma north to Rutshuru and then east to Bunagana

It would appear that this will leave the commercial city of Butembo at a relatively disadvantage until internal Congo roads are improved.  The countries will likely focus first on the northern access road to Bunia, despite being by far the longest section, because the terrain would be easiest for construction and the two southern options are still threatened by rebel groups.

Trade between the countries is currently very lopsided. For the first few months of 2019, Uganda exported $532 million to DRC while Congo exported only $30 million to Uganda. The population of DRC is roughly double that of Uganda (81 million to 42 million).  I haven’t studied the trade statistic, but it should be noted that much trade from Uganda is likely just passing through from a Kenyan ocean port, especially Mombasa.

Congo is not a member of the East African Community, but has applied for membership.  South Sudan was accepted into the EAC in 2016, joining the founding countries of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania plus Rwanda and Burundi.  The East African Community is currently a free trade bloc but has designs on having a common currency and greater political integration.