EDITORIAL: Region needs more ease of access, not more barriers

Sometimes one wonders why some African countries have this tendency to complicate matters, especially when it comes to the free movement of people and goods.

Rwanda is a signatory to several trade treaties the latest being the Africa continental Free Trade Area (AcFTA). It is also a member of several economic blocs that include the East Africa Community (EAC), the Economic Community of the Great Lakes (CEPGL) as well as Comesa.

CEPGL is a troika that includes Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that made cross-border trade grow overwhelmingly due to the fact the residents of border district only needed their IDs to cross over or used CEPGL laisser Passer.

Now border residents who until now had to contend with the looming threat of Ebola have another new worry. There will be no more free movement of people from Gisenyi town to Goma. Petty merchants and casual workers who make up the majority of traffic will now have to pay$20.

Foreign workers who work in Goma but reside in Gisenyi for security and infrastructure reasons will be charged $300 to be able to move across the border. The amount might be an annual levy but it is a trade barrier all the same.

DRC is lobbying to join the EAC, a body that has failed to make free movement a reality. So it will have to shed off some unnecessary luggage otherwise the community will be bogged down even more. This is not forgetting that tomorrow in the Angolan capital, two EAC members will be discussing an even more serious matter.

DRC President Etienne Tshisekedi will also be in attendance, so all would be well if Rwanda and DRC talked about the simple border matter instead of leaving it to bureaucratic administrative officials of border towns.

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