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DR Congo President Seeks Review of Infrastructure ‘Exploitation Contracts’ With China

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) president has called for a review of mining contracts signed with China in 2008 by the country’s former leader.

Felix Tshisekedi issued a statement after a cabinet meeting.

“DR Congo is sorely lacking in infrastructure and this hampers its development,” he said per Al Jazeera.

“It is not normal that those with whom the country has signed exploitation contracts are getting richer while our people remain poor,” he said. “It is time for the country to readjust its contracts with the miners in order to seal win-win partnerships.”

Former President Joseph Kabila signed a minerals-for-infrastructure contract with the Chinese in 2008 valued at $9 billion. Under the deal, Kabila, Sinohydro and China Railway agreed to build roads and hospitals in exchange for a 68% stake in the Tenke Fungurume copper and cobalt mine.

In 2019, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was the world’s biggest exporter of Cobalt ($1.9 billion) and Cobalt Ore ($202 million.) However, the African country’s growing debt to China has been a cause for concern. It has not been benefiting from its extensive deal with the Chinese.

DRC’s debt to China is currently at 1.3 trillion CFA francs ($2.4 billion). The year prior, the deficit was a monstrous 1.48 trillion CFA francs. According to the Johns Hopkins China Africa Research Initiative, China has extended 53 loans to the DRC between 2000-2018.

In January, China announced that the DRC would not have to repay its interest-free loans from China that matured at the end of 2020. The impact of the relief, a drop in the ocean. If the contracts are overhauled, DRC could finally see some gains, but the country’s relationship with China would take a hit.

Tshisekedi appears to accept the rewards of any potential reform, outweigh any potential bumps in the road.

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