Arua, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A peaceful, stable and thriving eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would generate lots of dividends for Uganda.
According to business leaders from West Nile, the region and Uganda in general will benefit a lot if stability and peace reigns in the DRC, particularly the eastern borderline.
Jackson Atima, the chair of West Nile Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says if the region has benefited so much from an unstable DRC, she would benefit even much more from a stable DRC.
Atima, also the proprietor of Hilltop Hotel in Arua, says the noticeable development of West Nile has a strong and direct correlation in trade with the DRC, which offers a big market for Ugandan goods.
Atima says the West Nile business community is looking with interest the political developments in the DRC because any positive outcomes would boost trade and travel between the two countries.
According to Atima, since eastern DRC literally depends on Uganda, its stability would mean even more trade and travel with Uganda, citing how many Congolese in the east have visited Kampala compared to Kinshasa, the DRC capital.
Aggrey Odong, the leader of Paidha Business Community in Zombo District, says there is no doubt that peace and development in the DRC is good for the local business community. Odong says it is their hope that there will be no violence in the vast central African country.
Paul Kinobe, the chair of Panyimur Business Community, says with the presidential results coming out, every effort should be made to ensure that the DRC does not descend into chaos, as it will have a negative effect on trade and other things.
Uganda shares a long borderline with the DRC, running from Koboko in the northwest to Kisoro in the southwest.
According to data from Uganda’s ministry of trade, Uganda’s exports to the DRC are in the region of sh1.5 trillion, putting the DRC in the Top Three in terms of regional trade.
Trade sector watchers, however, believe trade between the two countries is worth much more considering that much of it is informal, undocumented and passes through the porous border.
In the 2000s, the Uganda Revenue Authority estimated then that there were over 300 illegal entry points between Uganda and the DRC in West Nile alone.
Smuggling aside, legitimate trade between Uganda and the DRC has seen a significant increase in the number of prosperous business people in West Nile.
West Nile towns like Arua, Koboko, Odramacaku, Vurra, “Kampala” (a border market in Vurra, Alangi, Zeu, Padea, Paidha, Goli, Erussi, Nebbi, Parombo, Kasatu and Panyimur owe a significant part of their development to their proximity and trade with the DRC.