China Outdoes Europeans in Congo

In an analysis for Inter Press Service, John Vandaele suggests that ,in contrast to Europe’s colonial history in Africa, China’s thirst for natural resources (leading to a major Sino-Congolese deal of US$12 billion of investments), could benefit the Democratic Republic of Congo’s devastated economy.

The massive deal that China signed with the Democratic Republic of Congo last year is not the “second colonisation” that some Europeans allege it is. The agreement appears, in fact, a promising way to kick-start an economy.

The agreement on developing infrastructure through “resource-backed finance” certainly gives China a lot of influence in a country where Europeans are used to dealing the cards. European countries now look with a certain envy at what China has achieved.

Some believe the deal may serve positively for Congo’s future.

Under the agreement, only one in five workers can be Chinese. In each of the projects half of one percent of the investment must be spent on transfer of technology and on training Congolese staff. One percent has to be spent on social activities in the region, and three percent to cover environmental costs. Ten to 12 percent of the work has to be sub-contracted to Congolese companies.

Many seem convinced that Congo’s President Joseph Kabila’s survival depends on its success.

The deal seems like a lifeline for Congolese President Joseph Kabila. After more than a year in power, there’s not a lot he can show to the Congolese people, who have started to criticise him. Something has to begin quickly if he wants to get re-elected in three-and-a-half years.

See also the Financial Times story “Alarm over China’s Congo Deal.”

February 10, 2008 2:58 PM
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