East Africa: DRC, Uganda Forum Settle On Trade, Roads Deal

Movement of goods and people, bilateral trade and investment are set to ease as Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo plan to jointly construct 1,200 kilometres of roads.

The project includes 24 kilometres Bunagana-Goma road up to Rutshuru in DR Congo; a 977 kilometres road from Mpondwe border post in western Uganda to Beni in DR Congo and a 180 kilometres road from Goli in northern Uganda to Beni.

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi and Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signed the agreement at the first Joint Business Forum held at the Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala.

The forum sought to promote bilateral trade, investment and connectivity between the two countries.

While launching the forum, Uganda's Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa cited official trade data which shows that DR Congo is one of the key export markets for Uganda. Total exports for Uganda to DR Congo in 2018 stood at $532 million of which informal trade exports were worth $312 million, while formal trade accounted for $221 million.

President Tshisekedi has been to Uganda over five times since coming into office last year as he works to strengthen bilateral ties.

DR Congo is seeking to join the East African Community, which will further open up the country to trade with member states.

The need for better road infrastructure between the two countries came to light early this year when Rwanda closed its border with Uganda.

This slowed movement of goods as hundreds of trucks bound for the eastern DR Congo town of Goma through Cyanika border post were re-routed to Bunagana border post.

The road between the Bunagana border post in south western Uganda and Goma is only 76 kilometres but it is almost impassable and insecure.

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