DRC-Rwanda Brisk Business Flows Despite Political Tensions

Petite Barrière is the busiest pedestrian crossing point in the Great Lakes region, with more than 50,000 people crossing every day.

By DailyNewsUg Business Correspondent,

Cross-border trade between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda appears to defy their open conflict, which has lately shown signs of escalating.

Residents on both sides of the border have refused to be tied down by the political tensions, trading freely despite some border restrictions.

Congolese government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said the border between Goma in the DRC and Rubavu district in Rwanda is one of the busiest in Africa for commercial traffic.

According to the World Bank, “Petite Barrière is the busiest pedestrian crossing point in the Great Lakes region, with more than 50,000 people crossing every day.”

Photo 7SUR7.CD

When the crisis between the DRC and Rwanda came to a head in 2022, the Congolese authorities did not barricade the borders between the two countries, instead moving the border closure to 3pm from 5pm. Business has remained brisk.

Cross-border trade is encouraged beyond the countries of the region and there is no official policy in Kigali or Kinshasa forbidding civilian interactions for trade.

In Goma, women from Rwanda enter the DRC daily mainly to sell fresh milk, as Congolese traders cross the border to buy meat in Rwanda. This trade is also encouraged by the lack of road infrastructure linking DRC’s provinces.

“To travel to Rwanda from Goma, I have to spend just $5, whereas to go to Kinshasa and back, I need around $500,” Akilimali Chomachoma, a resident of Goma, told DailyNewsUg.

Modernisation de la petite barrière de Goma : les 116 propriétaires et 379 locataires indemnisés appelés à libérer les 3ha - Province du Nord-Kivu

“There are no roads between Goma and Kisangani. Traders in Goma and North Kivu live off trade,” said Barnabé Milinganyo, a politician from South Kivu.

In South Kivu Province, which shares borders with Rwanda and Burundi, Congolese authorities have stepped up key initiatives to facilitate trade, particularly with Rwanda. A new border post was inaugurated in September 2022.

According to Théo Ngwabije, outgoing governor of South Kivu, the aim of improving services at the border was “to provide the population with the benefits of cross-border trade”.

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