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Business leaders seek closer Kenya-DRC trade ties

Business leaders in Kenya have been urged to explore new opportunities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as the two countries commit to deepening bilateral trade ties.

This was the key message during the first Kenya-DRC trade mission that kicked off Tuesday in Kinshasa that brings together hundreds of entrepreneurs from both countries.

“This is a follow-up of cooperation agreements Kenya and DRC signed in April this year to deepen economic ties between the two countries,” said Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina.

The two-week trade summit has been facilitated by Equity Bank BCDC and will see more than 250 business leaders from Kenya visit at least four provinces in the DRC for opportunities to launch operations.

Equity Group Managing Director James Mwangi was optimistic that the trade mission would result in several investment decisions across the two countries.

“We have been presented with opportunities in the mining, agricultural, manufacturing and services sectors among other sectors that we believe Kenyan companies are well equipped to take full advantage of,” he said.

More than 2,500 investors from the DRC have registered to meet members of the Kenyan delegation and organisers expect several investment decisions to come out of the summit.

“DRC is a big importer of manufactured goods and the current challenges in the global supply chain offers a unique opportunity for Kenyan firms that deal in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) to fill the gap,” Mr Mwangi said.

In April this year, Kenya and the DRC signed four economic agreements to deepen ties across several sectors including security, maritime transport, immigration and infrastructure development.

The deals came at the end of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s state visit where he said Kenya was committed to establishing a consulate in Goma as well as an honorary consulate in Lubumbashi.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicates that Kenyan exports to the DRC stood at Sh14.2 billion in 2020, up from Sh13.4 billion the previous year.

Imports from the DRC on the other hand increased to Sh2.7 billion last year, up from Sh1.9 billion in 2019 and Sh1.2billion in 2018.

“Kenya is not looking at an extraction relationship with the DRC but at growing together and there are several lessons we can share in terms of regulations and standards,” said Ms Maina.

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