A fairer way to share the Democratic Republic of Congo’s vast mineral wealth is being sought by the president.
To achieve that, president Felix Tshisekedi, has called for a review of mining contracts signed with China in 2008 by his predecessor.
A statement after a cabinet meeting on Friday said Tshisekedi called for the “technical and financial details of Sino-Congolese contracts” at the next meeting.
“DR Congo is sorely lacking in infrastructure and this hampers its development,” the statement said.
Tshisekedi during a visit to the mining town of Kolwezi in May, announced his intention to renegotiate mining contracts, particularly those concluded by Kabila.
“It is not normal that those with whom the country has signed exploitation contracts are getting richer while our people remain poor.
“It is time for the country to readjust its contracts with the miners in order to seal win-win partnerships,” he said.
A highly contentious minerals-for-infrastructure contract with the Chinese in 2008, valued at $9bn was negotiated by former President Joseph Kabila who held power from 2001 to 2019 but the deal was reduced to two-thirds of that amount under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which noted the severe effect it had on the country’s finances.
To date, about $2.74bn has been disbursed by the Chinese so far.
Earlier this year, China granted some debt relief to the DRC aimed at helping it overcome the economic fallout from the pandemic.
As a result, the DRC did not have to repay its interest-free loans from China that matured at the end of 2020.
Chinese entities have extended 53 loans to the DRC between 2000 and 2018 according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University’s China Africa Research Initiative.