Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Special report by Clementia Pae who participated in a Kingdom business mission to DRC this month
In line with its strategic mandate of “reconstructing Africa beyond limitations” the World Economic Congress (WEC) led a delegation of Christian business leaders and investors to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from June 10 to June 14.
Founder and president of the WEC Dr Alexander Chisango who led the Kingdom business mission, together with Gravity Engineering and other stakeholders, was upbeat about Africa’s business potential during an interview with me on the banks of the imposing Congo River.
Among other things, he called on intercessors to pray for the continent and for fathers in different spheres of African society to arise to ensure that Africa’s story of economic promise is told correctly.
He said: “Guess what, we are some of the most blessed people right here. Coming from the Southern Africa region, the tip of Africa, and right now standing in Kinshasa, overlooking the mighty Congo River, which stretches over 4 700 kilometres, covering not only the two countries of Congos — Congo Brazzaville and Congo Kinshasa (DRC), but also stretching beyond, to the neighbouring countries. This same river powers the mighty Inga Dam, which has the hydro-generation capacity to power the whole of the SADEC region, 14 countries, if put to maximum use.
“Right here in Kinshasa, the Capital city of the DRC, over 11 million people reside, and the country itself has over 80 million people — it is several countries in one. All of Western Europe can fit in DRC. No mineral that is found on earth is lacking in DRC. This, then, means to say, all of Africa could make a good living, just by the resources of one country.
“The people in DRC are excellent, fine, very receptive, and hospitable. There are great opportunities for businesses. DRC is open for partnerships for rebuilding the country, and the people are looking forward to this new climate and season that has now come.
“Across the river is the exquisite Brazzaville where we landed, before coming to Kinshasa, amazed by the stories that have never been told about Africa.”
“The story of Africa must be told accurately. This is why the intercessors must pray for Africa. This is why the fathers in Africa must arise in all spectrums, the church, business, politics, media, education, health, arts; and blow this message all over the world, that Africa is just a spectacle from the hand of God. Nothing is lacking here.
“Drive through Kinshasa outside of a traffic jam — there is so much promise of life. So, we are excited to see what God is doing, and what he is about to do next. We saw great international airports. And across there is Gabon, Central African Republic, then Uganda, etc.
“Africa is a rich continent. Let us come together and fulfil God’s vision. God bless you.”
Who is the WEC?
The WEC) was formed in 2016 by a group of Christian faith marketplace leaders from around the world. Its administrative headquarters was established in Zimbabwe, with the Africa Reconstruction Investments Hub arising in South Africa under the leadership of Dr Chisango.
WEC champions sustainable, win-win, and just socio-economic development, wealth creation, and investments in Africa and around the world through strategic collaborations. WEC also hosts international summits bringing together game-changer solutions and solution leaders, including exhibitions.
In March 2018, during a meeting with national leaders of churches in Zimbabwe which was attended by more than 1 000 church leaders from around the country, Chisango presented WEC’s economic transformation model to Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa during his maiden interface with national groups.
Mnangagwa not only acknowledged and welcomed WEC and its’s plans but also pledged his support to the organisation’s agenda, and expressed his intention to maintain engagement with the body towards rebuilding Zimbabwe.
“You have talked about the World Economic Congress…you say you need a Christian economic forum, it is welcome, we will support it, we will dialogue as we try to interrogate the best ways to improve the lives of our people,” he said.
What are the needs on the ground in DRC?
As the largest Francophone country in Africa and with vast natural resources, the DRC has the potential to become one of the richest countries in the world and a driver of African growth, as it journeys to overcome its political instability. The DRC is surely recovering from a series of conflicts that broke out in the 1990s, creating a prolonged economic and social plummet.
The country needs partners to improve its infrastructure for sustainable economic modernisation and development and service delivery. Key areas such as manufacturing, energy, ICT, roads, bridges, transportation, agriculture, housing, hospitality, water and urban infrastructure need urgent intervention.
A night drive from the main Ndjili (Kinshasa) International Airport to the city centre is often in the dark, due to broken or no street lights.
In spite of all this, however, the streets of Kinshasa are buzzing with new hope. The energetic street vendors can meet your complete shopping right on the streets, from food items to clothing, etc.
The government, on the other hand, has signed deals and rolled out key development projects for the willing and available fast takers, who unfortunately have lacked adequate presence of African businesses and investors.
With its collaborative approach, WEC encourages upright African and global businesses and investors to enter the DRC market and partner for various lucrative development projects. Investments in DRC and Africa should also ensure transfer of skills and technology, and true sharing of wealth. Equally critical is to avoid ills such as child labour, corruption or exploitation but rather to develop true trade and shared growth and sustainability.
Flow of DRC opportunities thus far?
According to a briefing published in ResearchGate China has shown keen interest in the (DRC’s) natural resources. Chinese companies have secured direct access to many of these as barter trade in return for building infrastructure. The China-Africa Forest Governance Project aims to improve forest practices of Congolese-Chinese company partnerships, allowing stakeholders from both countries to work together to improve policy and practice to promote integrated and sustainable value chains that are legally compliant and achieve real benefits for the DRC’s people and forests.
The briefing shows that, with forests covering 65% of the DRC’s total area and an estimated US$24-trillion (R342-trillion) worth of mineral wealth:
1. The DRC’s) natural resources could and should provide great development benefits for its 81 million people. In 2015, the extractives sector accounted for 97% of the country’s exports, 20% of GDP, 25% of government revenues and 24% of employment.
2. But despite these riches, the DRC is ranked 176th out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index and more than 80% of its people live on less than US$1.25 (R18) a day.
3. Conflict linked to natural resource control has fuelled instability and exacerbated poverty for many years, while poverty and youth unemployment have in turn fuelled armed conflicts.
Unfortunately, from the days of colonial Belgian rule over DRC until now, the various “big global economic powers” have not yet been able to truly demonstrate equal and win-win partnership for business in the DRC, but the people of DRC are still trusting, hoping, and waiting.
Below is the US$58-million (R827-million) parliament building in Kinshasa built by China, for the DRC as a gift.
This is Africa beloved, and all the truly dedicated trade and investment partners from Africa and worldwide are invited.
View video of short interview with Dr Chisango: