East African countries strive for greater partnership in trade and investment

Front: Richard Ngatia, President of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) and Wavinya Ndeti, Governor of Machakos County (Kenya), participate in the Regional Trade Conference in Kishasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. (Photo: Liz Guantai, UN)

26 jan 2023

East African countries strive for greater partnership in trade and investment

Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), 25 January 2023 - The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) in collaboration with the East African Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (EACCIA) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Private Sector Forum, organized a trade mission in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from 23 to 25 January 2023. The Office of the United Nations Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, in line with the regional strategy pillar on strengthening trade and investment to support lasting peace and sustainable development, participated, and provided technical and financial support to the mission, including by sponsoring five women entrepreneurs from Burundi, Tanzania, and DRC to partake and exhibit their products during the conference. 

The women entrepreneurs are members of the Great Lakes Women Entrepreneurs Network, which was launched by the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region in December 2021 as a platform to foster cooperation, integration, and inclusion of women in business as key players in the economic development and the realization of peace, security, stability and economic growth of the DRC and the Great Lakes region.

The trade mission in Kinshasa held under the theme “Unlocking Trade Opportunities in East Africa and the Region” was threefold, comprising a regional trade conference, business to business (B2B) sessions and field visits. The meeting brought together government officials from the region, private sector, policy makers as well as development partners.

The DRC joined the East African Community in April 2022 as the body’s seventh member. Discussions focused on exploring the multiple opportunities available in the DRC; deepening intra-regional trade, exploring new trade opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA); expanding the market base; business matchmaking and networking, and market information.

Participants also discussed practical ways to benefit the DRC with trade and investment opportunities and know-how from other countries with the aim to decreasing gradually the illicit exploitation and trade of natural resources, thereby addressing the root causes of instability in eastern DRC and the region. The participants were given the opportunity to visit factories in food processing and manufacturing for learning and benchmarking.

The East African region is one of the fastest growing economic blocs in Africa. The accession of the DRC into the East African Community in April 2022 has increased the region’s GDP from USD 193 billion to USD 240 and its consumer market from 177 million to 260 million people.