PRESIDENT John Magufuli and President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have agreed on the revival of the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.
The two Heads of States have agreed to remove nuisance trade barriers and encourage more businesses among their people.
During a meeting, the two Heads of State emphasised bilateral cooperation, which had not been satisfactory despite the two countries’ long time friendly relations.
President Magufuli was speaking at the State House in Dar es Salaam yesterday, when he met the DRC President, who was in the country for a two-day state visit.
He said JPC had not met since 2002 and both the two countries were to blame.
He pointed out that the plan was that after President Tshisekedi appointed his cabinet the two countries ministers would meet by the end of this year to revive cooperation.
He said trade volume between the countries in 2018 was at about 305bn/-, adding that only eight investment projects were registered with Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) by DRC investors.
“The investment is only at $5.77m and has employed 418 people. The same applies to Tanzanians, who seem to have shown little interest in sectors like mining and forestry in DRC,” said President Magufuli.
Last year, DRC led in terms of the number of transit goods that pass via Dar es Salaam Port 1.78 tonnes compared to 1.76 tonnes recorded in 2017.
He observed that the volume of cargo was still low compared to the size of and opportunities existing in the two countries.
DRC is the second largest country and Tanzania is the 13th in Africa with a population of about 140 million people in total and a stretched border of 554km.
Considering vast resources and opportunities, the two countries have every reason to engage in beneficial businesses.
The two Presidents have among their plans agreed on the construction of the Central Railway Line linking Isaka, Rusumo and Kigali to Eastern DRC for cargo going DRC via Dar es Salaam Port.
President Magufuli also invited traders from DRC to come and buy Tanzanian products, including cooking oil, maize, rice and others.
He also welcomed investors from DRC to come and invest in industries, agriculture, fishing, tourism and mining.
For the successful implementation of all this, they agreed to encourage financial institutions to open branches in DRC to facilitate trade between the two countries.
“Another area is on capacity building...I have informed my counterpart that Tanzania is currently hosting mineral auctions. Therefore, they should come here to sell their minerals, while abiding by the laws,” said President Magufuli.
Other areas of cooperation the two Presidents have agreed on include the construction of industries, health, security, sports and culture.
Since Kiswahili has been adopted in the African Union (AU), the East African Community (EAC) and across the continent and many parts of DRC, President Magufuli also requested for the support of his counterpart so that Tanzania could provide DRC with teachers and materials to teach Kiswahili in schools and institutions of higher learning.
Tanzania has also agreed to use its military colleges to train DRC soldiers. President Magufuli is satisfied with the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway line and operations at Dar es Salaam Port.
According to him, DRC President has pledged to prepare a new plan for using Dar es Salaam Port as well as pledging to overcome hindrances to smooth business operations between the two countries.
President Magufuli further expressed his commitment to backing DRC’s plan of joining EAC and ensuring that the country is accepted.
For his part, President Tshisekedi showered praises on President Magufuli’s leadership style and administration, saying his country will also take a leaf from Tanzania.
He confirmed his participation in a Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting expected to take place in the country in August.
“We have agreed that our countries should be pioneers of promoting and strengthening trade, while maintain peace and tranq uility.
There is no development without peace...for the Great Lakes countries to prosper in its developments, there is need for peace,” said President Tshisekedi.