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President Tshisekedi Orders Revision of Mining Contracts

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President Felix Tshisekedi of Democratic Republic of Congo has ordered revision of mining contracts arguing that Investors are getting richer while local people remain poor.

The congolese leader made the announcement on Thursday while addressing a rally in the centre of Kolwezi town in Lualaba Congo’s Cobalt-rich province.

“It is not normal that those with whom the country has signed exploitation contracts get richer while our populations remain poor,” said Tshisekedi.

According to President Tshisekedi, “It is time for the country to readjust its contracts with the miners with a view to sealing win-win partnerships.”

President Tshisekedi is currently traversing the country to gunner support for his government. Before the Lualaba stage, Félix Tshisekedi was in Lubumbashi in Haut-Katanga.

Kolwezi town in Lualaba province is a mining hub and investors in this part have been enjoying favours gifted to them under the regime of former President Joseph Kabila.

In December, DRC’s Senator-for-life Joseph Kabila Kabange flew to Kolwezi after losing badly in the parliamentary wrestle with President Tshisekedi.

On April, 13, President Tshisekedi appointed Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi to head the Mines Ministry with the aim of transforming the mining sector into a major contributor to the country’s GDP.

DRC is the world’s largest source of cobalt and Africa’s biggest copper producer. Cobalt  is a key component in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in mobiles phones, laptops and electric cars.

In June 2019, Lualaba governor opened a centralised mineral trading hub controlled by the provincial authorities. with the aim of fighting fraud and maximising state revenues.

All minerals produced through small-scale artisanal mining in Lualaba province must be tested and sold at a centralised trade hub from June 29, 2020 according to the Provincial document. Artisanal miners account for around 20% of the cobalt output from DRC.

Tshisekedi government has been pushing to centralise cobalt trading through a state monopoly created in January 2020, the Entreprise Generale de Cobalt (EGC).

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Business

Swiss Glencore Plc Hints On Reopening Idle Cobalt Mine In DRC

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Glencore Plc could reopen its Mutanda Mining copper and cobalt project in Democratic Republic of Congo by the end of 2021, about two years after idling the mine.

Congo’s new mines minister, Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi met with representatives from the Swiss company Monday to discuss the restart of the mine, which closed in November 2019, the ministry said in a statement sent to reporters.

Mutanda “will start the commissioning of operations towards the end of this year in order to allow the return to production in 2022,” Glencore said in a separate emailed statement.

A reopening of Mutanda, one of the world’s biggest cobalt mines, comes when there’s renewed demand for battery metals as automakers focus on metal-intensive electric vehicles and global economies shift away from fossil fuels in favor of cleaner technologies that use electricity for energy.

Cobalt and copper are key metals in that transition.

Glencore said in August 2019 that it would close the mine for two years to carry out care and maintenance after prices of cobalt slumped.

Mutanda was responsible for a fifth of global cobalt production in 2018, according to Darton Commodities Ltd., a U.K.-based firm that specializes in the metal.

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Australia Drags China To WTO Over Tough Tarrifs On Wine

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Australia has dragged China to the World Trade Organization to arbitrate in a dispute over heavy tarrifs on wine exports.

Beijing’s imposition of crippling tariffs on Australian wine exports signals worsening tensions between the two countries.

Australian winemakers shipped just 12 million Australian dollars ($9 million) of wines to China in the December quarter, from AU$325 million a year earlier, industry figures showed, confirming that hefty new tariffs have all but wiped out their biggest export market.

The decision “to defend Australia’s winemakers” comes six months after Australia lodged a separate protest at the WTO over tariffs on Australian barley and is in line with the government’s “support for the rules-based trading system”, it said in a statement.

It added, however, that “Australia remains open to engaging directly with China to resolve this issue”.

It is the latest incident in an escalating tussle between Australia and its largest trading partner and follows warnings by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that his government would respond forcefully to countries trying to use “economic coercion” against it.

China in November slapped tariffs of up to 218 percent on Australian wines, which it said were being “dumped” into the Chinese market at subsidised prices.

The crackdown virtually closed what had been Australia’s biggest overseas wine market, with sales falling from Aus$1.1 billion (US$ 840 million) to just Aus$20 million, according to official figures.

“The actions taken by the Chinese government have caused serious harm to the Australian wine industry,” Trade Minister Dan Tehan said at a press conference announcing the decision to lodge a formal dispute with the WTO.

“We would love to be able to sit down and be able to resolve these disputes” directly with the Chinese, he said, but added that lower-level official contacts had failed to make progress.

“We will use every other mechanism to try and resolve this dispute and other disputes that we have with the Chinese government,” he said.

Tehan acknowledged that the dispute process within the WTO was difficult and estimated it would take two to four years for any resolution.

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Inkomoko Donates 500 Smartphones To Refugees For World Refugee Day Through #ConnectRwanda

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Timed with World Refugee Day, Inkomoko is fulfilling its #ConnectRwanda campaign pledge by donating 500 smartphones to entrepreneurs across Rwanda.

This weekend, as the world celebrates World Refugee Day on Sunday, June 20, Inkomoko is working with MTN Rwanda, the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management, and UNHCR to distribute the majority of the 500 phones to refugee and host community entrepreneurs, increasing their access to government services, financial products, and overall digital connectivity for their small businesses.

Initiated by MTN Rwanda, in partnership with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the #ConnectRwanda campaign was launched in December 2019, with the objective of providing smartphones to unconnected households across Rwanda to leverage the digital economy.

Since then, private companies, government institutions and individuals have come together to connect all Rwandans through technology.

Inkomoko’s phone donation, as part of World Refugee Day, aligned with their larger strategy to digitize services and provide increased access to finance for refugee and host community entrepreneurs.

These pivots have emerged as Inkomoko adapted to helping entrepreneurs adjust to new ways of working during COVID-19.

Phone distribution will launch in the Gihembe Refugee Camp where Inkomoko has been working since 2016. 

“During COVID-19, movement restrictions limited how we could provide services in refugee communities. Like most businesses, it forced us to quickly develop digital offerings that would work for our clients. Because we were able to make expedient digital implementations and because 39% of our Inkomoko staff are refugees themselves, we were able to continuously serve our entrepreneurs despite movement restrictions,” says Olive Ashimwe, Inkomoko’s Regional Director of Refugee Affairs.

The 500 donated smartphones fortify Inkomoko’s track record of financial inclusion, as Inkomoko is also rolling out a new digital loan app that will increase access to business financing for refugee and host communities.

This mobile loan app for smartphones is available in Kinyarwanda, English, French, and Swahili, and will help Inkomoko to diversify access points for financing across the country, a key request from entrepreneurs.

All of the phones donated by Inkomoko will come preloaded with their app.

Last year for World Refugee Day, Inkomoko partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to release US$2.6million in COVID-19 relief grants to more than 3,500 refugee and host community entrepreneurs.

One year later they have released data showing that as a result of their grants, businesses were able to generate more than US$10 million in new revenue and they employ more than 20,000 people throughout Rwanda. In addition, 98% of closed businesses have re-opened. 

“Inkomoko’s work with entrepreneurs has consistently shown that investing in refugee businesses is catalytic for economic development at-large. We are able to provide new growth opportunities for our clients in refugee communities by bringing new investments and digital solutions,” says Julienne Oyler, Inkomoko’s CEO.

Looking ahead, Inkomoko has pledged to support more refugee and host community entrepreneurs, including providing 25,000 refugee households with access to affordable capital in the coming years, all facilitated by more digital solutions.

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