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How Infrastructure And Energy Are Key To The Economic Renewal Of The DRC

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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country, is known for being a tough place to do business but also one of unexploited economic potential. Although the country has had a dark cloud looming over it for years, it recently held its first democratic transfer of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

And like other African countries, the DRC is in pursuit of a stronger and thriving economy. The IMF has the country’s economy‘s growing at a rate of 4.3% in 2019; and nothing suggests that this will not improve in the future.

For the DRC, the pursuit for a thriving economy is well within reach given its endowment with vast natural resources that could enable it to be a contributor to Africa’s economic growth and global supply of raw materials such as copper.

The DRC’s new government seems to be committed to exploiting these natural resources, as demonstrated through the several sector reforms that have already been implemented. The most impactful, both short and long term, being investment infrastructure development & renewable energy, amendments to mining and oil & gas legislation as well as its participation in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

In respect of infrastructure and energy, the DRC captured global attention with the world’s largest proposed hydropower scheme known as the Grand Inga project. A project that aimed to generate about 40,000 megawatts of power from water sourced at the mouth of the Congo River. This amount of energy can cater for a multitudinous size of the population in and beyond the borders of the DRC.

Although this magnificent 6-phase project did not come to become reality, the country is fervently building synergies to improve its infrastructure and provide sustainable and stable energy supply for its citizens.

In May 2019, the DRC’s Ministry of Energy and Hydraulic Resources and the multinational clean energy company, Hanergy Thin Film Power Group signed a strategic partnership framework agreement for a 400MV solar power plant. The addition of 400MW onto the grid will go a long way with reducing the electricity scarcity that plagues parts of the country.

The Ministry has communicated its commitment to meeting the country’s original target of 65% electrification by 2025. This of course will go a long way towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals of universal access to electricity.

The DRC should be applauded for opting to sign a framework agreement which has the ability of creating an environment for parties to identify their common commercial goals. The benefits of framework agreements have been accepted by a number of seasoned lawyers. Duncan Wallace, a member of the UK bar, is of the view that framework agreements can be a commercial motivation for contractors to behave less opportunistically when additional projects, such as those that flow from traditional framework agreements, are on offer.

In July 2019, governments of the DRC, Burundi and Rwanda signed a project agreement for the construction of the Ruzizi III hydropower project.

The proposed Build, Own, Operate, Transfer (BOOT) structure is beneficial to all countries as a large portion of the risk will sit with the concessionaire and minimizes the public cost and debt for infrastructure and energy development. Furthermore, this public-private partnership, if executed successfully, will undoubtedly improve the lives of millions in the three countries.

In addition to the developments in respect of renewable energy, the country has made stride in the infrastructure sector,  with the new 34-km road which directly links the Kamoa-Kakula copper project, a mining project in the DRC and the Kolwezi airport in Zambia.

The completed project will enable the unrestricted flow of trade between the two countries as it will be used to bring in mining equipment & construction materials as well as to transport copper concentrates. Given the African Union’s launch of the “operational phase” of the African Continental Free Trade Area, the economic benefits of this  corridor are endless.

Although the DRC occupies the 184th place (of 190) in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report, the country has made strides in achieving political stability and improve its governance to pave way for economic growth and energy and infrastructure development. And as a result, creating a conducive environment for foreign direct investment.

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Politics

Shoot Anyone Carrying AK-47 in Bush -President Buhari

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Nigeria’s President Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has directed security agencies to shoot anyone seen with AK-47.

Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu disclosed this directive during an interview with the BBC, saying the president directed a clampdown on bandits who have refused to surrender.

On the efforts being made to rid Zamfara and other northern states of bandits, Shehu said the government is resorting to lethal force.

“The president has ordered security forces to go into the bushes and shoot whoever they see with sophisticated weapons like AK-47,” he said in the interview monitored by TheCable.

“He ordered that whoever is seen with terrible weapons at all should be shot immediately.” ‘Jets being used to transport arms to Zamfara’ Shehu also said the Federal government declared Zamfara a no-fly zone following intelligence that arms are being transported to the bandits with private jets.

He said the jets are also used to cart away gold from the state to Dubai, which, according to him, prompted the ban on mining activities also announced on Tuesday.

“These jets are being used to pick up gold that is being mined in some parts of Zamfara and exported. This is strong because at the moment,” he said.

“There is a Nigerian gold market in Dubai. The government is losing, the people of this country are losing, that’s why it is said that gold mining is banned for those who are not made by the government.”

The ban on mining activities in Zamfara was first announced in April 2017 amid reports that actors going after the state’s gold reserves are fuelling its security crisis.

Commitment to end insecurity lacking — North-East govs Meanwhile, North East Governors, yesterday, called on Federal Government to be more proactive and committed to the fight against insurgency and terrorism in the country, saying the current situation suggests that the commitment was not there.

The governors’ position came on a day Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, asked the Federal Government to also extend to Benue, Taraba and Borno the ‘’no fly zone’’ order placed on Zamfara State by President Muhammadu Buhari, arguing that choppers also drop arms in these states for bandits and insurgents.

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South-Africa

Eswatini Ranked Lowest In Promoting Businesswomen

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The Kingdom of Eswatini is not convulsive for women that want to take a slot in business as well as in top public positions, according to the recently-published World Bank Women, Business and Law 2021 report.

The UN Development Programme lists 46 of Africa’s 54 countries as sub-Saharan, excluding Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia. 

In sub-Saharan Africa, Eswatini has been placed third from the bottom with 46.3 out of 100 index points. 

According to World Bank, Women, Business and the Law 2021 is one of a series of annual studies measuring the laws and regulations that affect women’s economic opportunity in 190 economies. 

The project presents eight indicators structured around women’s interactions with the law as they move through their lives and careers. 

The indicators include mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets, and pension.

Eswatini has scored a zero in the entrepreneurship indicator capturing differences between men and women in that area. 

This year’s report updates all indicators as of October 1, 2020 and builds evidence of the links between legal gender equality and women’s economic inclusion. 

“By examining the economic decisions women make throughout their working lives, as well as the pace of reform over the past 50 years, Women, Business and the Law 2021 makes an important contribution to research and policy discussions about the state of women’s economic empowerment,” reads the report in part. 

At the top of the rankings are Mauritius, South Africa, and Zimbabwe while Eswatini, Guinea Bissau and Sudan are listed at the bottom. 

Globally, 10 economies—Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Sweden—score 100 on the Women, Business and the Law index. 

The Women, Business and Law 2021 report is a global ranking that assesses laws and reforms in 190 countries, looking at efforts made to eliminate gender-based discrimination and support women.

In the foreword, the report highlighted that the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic exposed and deepened global inequality. 

“For many women around the world, this could mean not only economic insecurity, but also threats to their health and safety. In times like these, a legal environment that encourages women’s economic inclusion can make them less vulnerable in the face of a crisis. 

“Yet in difficult moments many women start at a disadvantage,” shared the report. 

Mari Elka Pangestu Managing Director – Development Policy and Partnerships at The World Bank endorsed the report. 

The report suggested that locally,  both Women and Law in  Southern Africa and (WLSA) and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs was consulted during the research.

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East-Africa

Uganda Forests Risk Depletion Due To Rapid Population Growth

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Ugandan experts have revealed that the country’s population is expected to rise to 75million in the next decade warning this could directly and negatively impact on forests.

The revelations come at a time the world is celebrating World Wildlife Day observed on 3 March in order to celebrate the flora and fauna of the world and also raise awareness about them.

The theme for World Wildlife Day 2021 is ‘Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet’. The United Nations aims to highlight the significance of how forests give a livelihood to many communities, especially indigenous and local communities.

Robert Bitariho, Director of Uganda’s Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation said on Wednesday that use of forests is by large unsustainable in Uganda because of high population density. If in 2031 the Ugandan population is at 75 million how much forests are we going to lose?

“On average 75% of forest produce is consumed at the household level with only 25% being traded. This indicates how much forests mean to the survival of the local community,” he said.

Tom Obong Okello, Executive Director National Forestry Authority submitted that “whatever effort we are doing to address sustainable forest management we must manage forests outside gazetted forest protection areas.”

According to Obong, Forestry in Uganda is being recognized as a primary growth sector and a contributor to the goal of sustainable industrialization for growth, employment and wealth creation.

Meanwhile, Sam Mwandah, Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority says “Forest loss greatly derails Uganda’s efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change and without forests, our survival is in jeopardy.”

David Duli, Country Director WWF said that the population is overwhelming as we have seen in Bwindi natural forest area. There is the demarcation of boundaries but the gardens are going up to the edge of the forest.

Uganda’s forest cover includes tropical forests, woodlands and plantation forests.

According to Matthias Schauer the EU representative in Uganda,”The damage done to forests and woodlands in Uganda in the past 25 years has been dramatic. We destroy unique biodiversity and intruding natural habitats hence fueling future wildlife conflicts.”

The UN plans to introduce forest wildlife management models and practices on World Wildlife Day 2021. Celebrating the livelihoods that are based in forest, the UN aims to promote practices that can help in sustainable development, including traditional practices and knowledge.

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