Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo are working on a visa-free entry deal, according to a statement by the Interior ministry.

The ministry said the move will promote bilateral trade and advance the intra-African economic integration and regional cooperation agenda.

“This follows extensive deliberations between delegations from the two countries, led by Dr Fred Matiang’i and Hon Gilbert Kankonde Malamba, DR Congo’s Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Interior, Security and Customary Affairs,” said a statement released on Friday.

The two countries will form an inter-ministerial team to begin the process of facilitating visa-free entries by citizens from either country.

“The team comprising experts from both Kenya and the DRC will also look into areas of mutual collaboration for the good of the region,” CS Matiang’i said.

This comes at a time when DRC’s application to join the East African Community remains undetermined.

President Felix Tshisekedi formally applied for admission to the six-member bloc in June 2019—three months after he assumed office.

“This request follows the ever-increasing trade between the economic players of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and those of the states of the community,” he wrote on June 8.

He said it was the desire of his new government to join EAC leaders “so we can work together for the development of our respective countries and stabilise this part of Africa”.

DRC’s bid has, however, been frustrated by the postponement of EAC heads of state summit owing to lack of quorum. The February 2020 meeting should have made it possible to develop a timetable for the consideration of the request.

The DRC accounts for about six per cent of total exports from the EAC region.

During Tshisekedi’s visit to Nairobi in February 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta noted that a lot of Congolese imports pass through Mombasa port, especially goods destined for Goma and Lubumbashi in eastern DRC, and called for the deepening of trade ties going forward.

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