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By: Sarah Mutheu

24 March 2023

The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) recently organized a multisector delegation of 80 delegates for a 4 day visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) capital Kinshasa, for a 4-day business engagement under the theme ‘Unlocking Trade Opportunities in East Africa and the Region’. The visit comprised of a regional trade conference, business to business (B2B) sessions and field visits. The meeting brought together government technocrats from the region, private sector, policy makers as well as development partners. Nairobi Center of International Arbitration was represented by the Business Development Manager Ms. Millicent Shitakha. The objective of the trade mission was to identify trade and investment opportunities for expansion into the DRC market by the delegates, following the success of Kenyan companies including Equity bank which has successfully set up a successful business in the DRC. The delegation engaged their counterparts in DRC on matters trade and investment, opportunities for joint ventures, and discussion on partnerships  and collaborations, with the newest entrant into the EAC. The Kenyan Ambassador in the DRC H.E. Amb. George Masafu applauded the engagement as an indicator of progressive regional integration, with the Secretary-General to the President of DRC S.E Jean Tshishima emphasizing the important role of trade and economic empowerment towards achieving peace and security in the DRC. In his address, KNCCI President Mr. Richard Ngatia lauded the entry of DRC into the East African Community (EAC) bloc noting that it was a win for the region. He cited DRC’s vast wealth of minerals and wood as key raw materials for manufacturing and assembly industries in Kenya and the region, which had the potential of providing Kenyan companies with opportunity for partnership and expansion into the region. The Chair of the Council of Governors (COG) Trade Committee who is also the Governor of Machakos County H.E. Hon. Wavinya Ndeti while representing the Council of Governors pledged support by the COG in strengthening MSMEs participation in cross-border trade. Participants also discussed practical ways in which the DRC could benefit from trade and investment opportunities and know-how from other countries with the aim to decreasing gradually the illicit exploitation and trade of natural resources, thereby addressing the root causes of instability in eastern DRC and the region. The participants had the opportunity to visit factories in food processing and manufacturing for learning and benchmarking. The high-level delegation visit held from 25th-28th January 2023 is expected to lead into signing of supply agreements and buyer seller contracts for exporting companies, growth in the number and quality of exports into DRC and introduction of new products into the country. It is also expected to enhance collaboration and partnership between the Kenyan business community and DRC counterparts. Among the key areas of collaboration include opportunities in key sectors of mining, infrastructure, agriculture, healthcare, ICT, Tourism and financial services. Through the partnership with KNCCI and with expanded business opportunities in the DRC , the Centre will exploit  the many opportunities for growth in ADR as businesses in the region enter into commercial and other ADR related contracts .With the East African region being one of the fastest growing economic blocs in Africa, the entry of the DRC into the East African Community in April 2022 has seen an increase in the region’s GDP from USD 193 billion to USD 240 and its consumer market from 177 million to 260 million people which provides a great opportunity for growth of ADR services.

Source: NCIA

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