East African Community’s neighbours, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Sudan have shown interest in joining the five-nation grouping.
Addressing a press conference at the EAC headquarters, in Arusha Tanzania early this week, EAC Secretary General, Ambassador Juma Mwapachu revealed that the two countries have expressed interest in boosting the bloc’s membership from the current five to seven states.
He explained that this could become a reality within the second decade of the regional cooperation set to start with the establishment of common market in January 2010.
The EAC is the regional grouping of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
“DRC has discovered that it is more inclined towards the East, relying on both Mombasa and Dar es Salaam harbours for its external trade while most of the Sudan’s economic and social deals face south towards Kenya, eventually these two states will become part of EAC,” Mwapachu is quoted saying.
Sudan is the largest country in Africa and the DRC is the third largest, and joining the bloc would make EAC the biggest regional community in the world.
Rwanda and Burundi officially joined the EAC in 2007, signing accession treaties that expanded the regional economic bloc to five nations.
Sudan is rebuilding an economy shattered after more than two decades of war in the south, while DRC is still fighting rebels in the eastern part.
The integration of the two countries will also boost bloc population from the current 120 million to over 230 million.