Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is looking for a fairer share of its vast mineral wealth.

Felix Tshisekedi, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has called for a review of mining contracts signed with his predecessor in 2008 in China, and says he wants fairer deals.

In a statement following a cabinet meeting on Friday, Tshisekedi requested “the technical and financial details of Sino-Congolese contracts” at the next meeting.

“DR Congo has a lack of infrastructure, and this is hampering its development,” the statement said.

Former President Joseph Kabila, who was in power from 2001 to 2019, signed a highly controversial $ 9 billion negotiated mineral-for-infrastructure contract with the Chinese in 2008.

But the agreement was reduced to two-thirds of the amount under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), noting the serious impact on the country’s finances.

So far, about $ 2.74 billion has been paid out by the Chinese so far.

Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin (L) accompanies former President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as they review a guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing [File: Goh Chai Hin/AFP]

During a visit to the mining town of Kolwezi in May, Tshisekedi announced his intention to renegotiate mining contracts, especially those that Kabila had concluded.

“It is not normal for those with whom the country has concluded exploitation contracts to become richer while our people remain poor,” he said.

‘It’s time for the country to adjust its contracts with the miners to enter into win-win partnerships.

Earlier this year, China granted some debt relief to the DRC aimed at helping him overcome the economic downturn of the pandemic.

As a result, the DRC does not have to repay its interest-free loans from China, which expired at the end of 2020. The ministry did not say how much it amounted to.

According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University’s China Africa Research Initiative, Chinese entities granted 53 loans to the DRC between 2000 and 2018.

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