World Bank, IMF, UNDP and Diplomatic Reps Tour Sicomines Project to Observe Progress of the DRC’s First Infrastructure-For-Minerals Partnership MinesAfrican Press Organization (APO) | May 21, 2015
KINSHASA, Dem. Rep. of Congo (DRC)May 21, 2015/ — From May 16-17, members of the World Bank, United Nations Development Program, the U.S Embassy and other foreign diplomats toured facilities and assessed the progress of the new Sicomines joint venture, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) first “infrastructure for minerals” partnership. Sicomines Sarl, a joint venture between Congolese mining company Gecamines SA, China‘s Sinohydro and the China Railway Group Limited, oversees the project, which includes the construction and operation of two copper plants in Katanga province.
Led by Mr. Moïse Ekanga Lushyma , executive secretary of the Bureau de Coordination et du Suivi du Programme Sino-Congolais (BCDPSC), the tour included a walk through the Sicomines plants, which are expected to start production in the fall of 2015 with an initial copper output of 50,000 tons annually, gradually rising to an expected 400,000 tons over the next two decades.
The Sicomines plants represent a critical development and capacity-building endeavor for the DRC, employing 3,000 workers, 70% of whom will be Congolese as reported by Associated Press. In addition, the Sino-Congolese joint venture will disburse approximately $3 billion for the construction of roads, dams, hospitals and schools, including infrastructure projects such as the Busanga hydroelectric project.
“The progress made by the Sicomines partnership reinforces the DRC’s commitment to strengthening and professionalizing its mining sector, and to help increase accountability in the industry,” said Mr. Ekanga. “We are looking forward to initializing production in just a few months, and this project will have positive effects for both the Congolese people and the DRC’s mining and business sectors. This mutually beneficial cooperation with our Chinese partners is a strong example for others interested in investment opportunities in the DRC. When Sicomines builds a plant in the DRC, it sources equipment globally and is a job creator in China, the U.S., France; it creates tax revenues for the DRC, employs local labor and the shared experience facilitates the knowledge transfer we need. It's a win win for all. Sicomines is the real proof of concept for us that we have sought under the leadership of President Kabila and will continue to replicate with other investors. In partnership with the World Bank and the IMF, the DRC has implemented liberalizing reforms designed to increase business activities and create jobs across the country, including reforms in key industrial and commercial sectors. Our nation’s infrastructure is being rebuilt at an unprecedented rate, with new roads, schools, and hospitals under construction. Tangible investments like Sicomines from international partners will help solidify these gains and foster broader regional stabilization and growth”.
Among those touring the site were Eric Madison, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa; Ahmadou Moustapha Ndiaye, the World Bank’s Country Director for the DRC; Prija Gajraj, Country Director for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); as well as diplomats from France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
In an interview with Top Congo FM during the tour, Mr. Madison said, “I was very much impressed by the progress they have made in the past few years. I hope it will attract other investors.”
"This kind of project is in line with the objectives of the World Bank, which is that of the fight against poverty," Mr. Moustapha Ndiaye told Top Congo FM.
Ms. Gajraj added, "We welcome this important initiative that demonstrates the potential of the mining sector in DRC and continue to promote efforts in terms of development—capacity building, infrastructure, support for the local population—because that profits everyone.”
Enough and Coalition Write to Secretary Kerry on Democracy in Congo
Re: Recommendations for the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Dear Secretary Kerry,
As you know, during the last few weeks the political terrain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has shifted dramatically.
Despite the widespread rejection of proposals that might allow President Joseph Kabila to bypass his constitutionally enshrined two-term limit -- including opposition from members of his own political coalition -- the Kabila Government attempted to legislate a national census that could delay the presidential election constitutionally scheduled for the fall of 2016. ...
Based on our long experience in the DRC and wide contacts with Congolese political leaders and civil society, we are convinced that it is time for even greater specificity in U.S. policy. We therefore urge you to:
(1) Make explicit that the U.S. will only participate in financing elections based on the results of regular monitoring of CENI’s performance in advancing a credible, constitutionally timely and inclusive electoral process, including its willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue on electoral issues with the opposition and civil society.
(2) Act rapidly and with diplomatic creativity to promote international facilitation of such dialogue, a key to peaceful, credible and democratic presidential and national elections. Experience has shown that an international role is essential to achieving consensus on such urgent and important electoral issues as the Calendar, voter roll and mechanisms of election observation and civic education.
(3) Incorporate into current U.S. Government human rights advocacy strong public identification of specific cases where individuals who have been unlawfully detained by the Government or accused of non-credible offenses.
(4) Provide a meaningful level of assistance -- comparable to what we have furnished other important countries -- for urgent political party development. The current $3 million, 3- year program is completely inadequate. Without more effective and accountable parties, the democratic transition the U.S. is promoting will be at risk.
(5) Lobby other key diplomatic actors in DRC to support the approach outlined above. Particular attention should be paid to the representatives of the African Union and the United Nations.
Mr. Secretary, you have helped transform U.S. and international policy by recognizing that democratic development is fundamental not only to the Congolese people but also to U.S. and international interests in a huge and turbulent region. We urge you to take these five important steps to help ensure the success of this new policy.
Eastern Congo Initiative
Open Society Policy Center
Mvemba Phezo Dizolele - Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Anthony W. Gambino - Former USAID Mission Director to the DRC
Mark L. Schneider - Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group
Jason K. Stearns- Director, Congo Research Group, New York University
Herbert Weiss - Professor of Political Science Emeritus, City University of New York
Stephen R. Weissman- Former Staff Director, House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Africa
How John Kerry could help bring peace to Congo
Over the past 20 years, the war in Congo has claimed nearly 6 million lives. Over 50 armed groups and multiple foreign armies have destabilized Congo, using tens of thousands of child soldiers and raping hundreds of thousands of women. Because of the violence, nearly three million Congolese people today have been displaced from their homes.
Yet things are beginning to look up for Congo. A revitalized United Nations peacekeeping force led by African nations is helping dislodge armed groups from their hideouts. The most powerful of these, the M23 militia, was militarily defeated in late 2013, following military pressure from Congo and the peacekeepers as well as international pressure on the rebels’ backers in the Rwandan government. The U.S. Congress contributed by passing legislation which has reduced armed groups’ profits from minerals and has helped make over two-thirds of tin, tantalum, and tungsten mines conflict-free. Those combined efforts have led over 8,000 combatants to disarm since M23’s defeat. Another warlord was filmed earlier this week pleading on his knees to accept his disarmament. A peace process for Congo is now beginning, led by sub-regional power Angola and supported by Feingold and U.N. Special Envoy Mary Robinson.
However, there are still major challenges to peace, which is where Kerry and Feingold can have an impact. In their trip to Congo and neighboring Angola, a focus on three issues could pay significant peace dividends.
First, Kerry and Feingold should urge Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to make the peace process more inclusive and to widen its agenda. A peace agreement reached by the governments will only be sustainable if Congolese people’s input is meaningfully included. Kerry and Feingold should work with the presidents to establish a feedback loop to link civil society, including women, to the high-level discussions.
The talks must also help boost conflict-free regional economic cooperation, a key to regional peace. If Congo and its neighbors can reform and integrate their economies in a more transparent manner and increase investment in the region, they will be less likely to support cross-border rebellions because they will be profiting more from legitimate business than from a war economy.
The potential profits from peace are enormous. For example, one industrial conflict-free gold mine in eastern Congo generated $115 million last year in an area that used to be rife with armed groups and illegally smuggled gold. Local communities benefited, too, as 200 miles of roads were built in the area, decreasing food prices by 30 to 50%. The possibilities are numerous: Private Congolese and regional companies could invest in infrastructure and mines, the region could develop processing plants, multinationals could bring in capital, and the regional services industry would benefit.
Second, the two statesmen must urge President Kabila to make progress on critical security issues and should not shy away from strong measures to back up their discussions. Kabila must break fully with the FDLR rebellion, a militia on the U.S. terrorist list. Tackling the FDLR is critical to addressing regional security, preventing a future M23, and protecting civilians. Kabila should partner with the UN peacekeepers to combat the rebellion and prosecute Congolese army officers who collaborate with it. Relatedly, Kabila must finalize agreement with donors on programs for ex-combatants, which would incentivize many more armed group fighters to defect. If concrete progress is not made, the U.S. should urge the World Bank to delay votes on the major hydroelectric Inga III dam project in Congo.
Finally, Kerry and Feingold should work to convince President Kabila to not alter the constitution to run for a third term. They should build multilateral pressure along these lines, including possible targeted sanctions. They should also urge Congo to hold local, provincial, and presidential elections and work with donors to robustly support them.
Forty years after the Rumble in the Jungle, the U.S. has a chance to advance the goals of peace, justice and democracy in Congo. Kerry and Feingold have an opportunity to make a far more lasting impact on Congo even than Ali and Foreman.