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Uganda waives visa requirements for DRC citizens

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Uganda has scrapped-off visa requirements for citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), taking a significant step towards facilitating regional integration.

The decision was confirmed by Lt Gen Joseph Musanyufu, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Internal Affairs. This follows discussions held during the 8th Joint Permanent Commission in Kinshasa, DR Congo, in October this year in which it was agreed to waive visa requirements in adherence to the EAC protocol on free movement.

Lt Gen Musanyufu clarified that this visa exemption will commence on January 1, 2024 and it is expected that the Democratic Republic of Congo will also grant Ugandan citizens visa-free entry in return.

After the Democratic Republic of Congo was officially admitted to the EAC, businessmen, and traders in Uganda are excited about the potential it brings.

Congo adds more than 90 million people to 177 million East Africans. In the region, Uganda is the second largest exporter to Congo, after Rwanda. Sources say though Rwanda is not known for manufacturing and growing much food stuffs, it is said the country would buy goods from other states in the region and then export to Congo.

East Africans can now freely go to Congo if the trade and movement barriers such as the $50 visa fee are removed. The DRC shares borders with all the East African countries except Kenya.

Uganda’s main exports to DRC include cement, palm oil, rice, sugar, refined petroleum, baked goods, cosmetics and iron materials.

Formal and informal traders along Uganda’s border points with DRC at Bunagana and Aliwala have complained about high tariffs and extortion by officials from the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), which allows smuggling to thrive.

Uganda and the DRC have three road projects. The first road will run from Kasindi to Beni (80km) and the second will integrate the Beni-Butebo axis (54km). The third will stretch for 89 kilometres from the border town of Bunagana, through Rutshuru to Goma.

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