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.”
Source: Bureau de Coordination et du Suivi du Programme Sino-Congolais (BCDPSC)