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Uganda, DR Congo in talks for visa-free movement deal

Uganda and DR Congo are in talks for visa-free and identity card usage for travel between the two countries.

According to Uganda’s director of the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control Gen Apollo Kasiita-Gowa, President Yoweri Museveni has asked technocrats from both countries to expedite the process.

At the close of last year, President Museveni asked Ugandan officials to stop asking for visas from Congolese citizens entering the country.

“Crossing in East Africa should be cost-free. You pay for a visa when going to America, or Europe, but a visa to DR Congo?! That is rubbish. If that is the case, I have removed it,” Museveni told a gathering at Mpondwe in December 2022, after commissioning the Mpondwe-Lhubiriha Border Export Zone and Mpondwe One Stop Border Post in Kasese district.

Museveni’s directive followed complaints by locals that they are charged Ush10,000 ($2.68) to go to DRC and the same amount for Congolese citizens entering Uganda.

Small-scale traders complain that forking out $100 (Ush373,000) on a single-entry visa for 30 days plus an additional $45 (Ush167,850) airport is a barrier to trade, reducing their competitiveness.

Some of the Congolese traders who travel to Kampala say that visa requirement by Uganda immigration authorities forces many of their colleagues either to place orders using agents, or friends or travel to Kigali for shopping.

However, Trade State Minister David Bahati says Uganda's products are not competitive as they do not comply with quality/safety requirements. High cost of production and doing business limited investments in import substitution industries and export promotion interventions.

Rwanda, Burundi, and DR Congo as members of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes (CEPGL) scrapped visa requirements for citizens of the three countries and also use IDs, a decision which has made travel and trade easier.

The East Africa Community scrapped the visa requirement, facilitating the free movement of people in South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and Kenya scrapped visas.

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