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EditorialEditorial10 October 20171min0

Author of an oral question addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the National MP of the Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC), Juvénal Munubo expressed his dissatisfaction with the extension of the moratorium on invalidation of semi-biometric passports originally planned as at 16 October 2017.

“The risk of terrorism referred to by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs [Leonard She Okitundu. editor’s note], as well as other reasons such as the ban of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are all imaginary, “said UNC MP on the telephone of KINSHASATIMES.CD.

Juvénal Munubo maintains his position with regard to the abolition of this measure: “I expect nothing but the withdrawal of this decision” because, according to him, it prejudices many compatriots.

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EditorialEditorial11 September 20172min0

“Planning and Development of Industrial and Residential Areas of Urban Agglomerations in the DRC” is the theme of the second edition of the Concrete Expo 2017 opened on Thursday September 07, 2017 in Kinshasa.

The opening ceremony of this 2017 edition took place on Thursday in the presence of the Minister of State in charge of Infrastructure, Public Works and Reconstruction (ITPR), Thomas Luhaka, and the Minister of Higher Education and Academic (ESU), Steve Mbikayi.

During these four days of work, a number of issues will be discussed, including the Habitat Agenda in the DRC, infrastructure accomplishments under the Sino-Congolese program, ruralization of cities, upturn of habitat areas, the case of Lualaba.

The president of the concrete exhibition, Jean Bamanisa, called for the setting up of a permanent framework of exchanges and monitoring between the government and the concrete exhibition for the realization of the government’s construction project.

The Minister of Higher Education and Universities, Steve Mbikayi, took advantage of the opening ceremony to launch the DRC Concrete Expo Competition, second edition, for students enrolled in technical courses.

Speaking in his turn, Constant Luzitu, the president of the DRC’s architects, complained that for every major work to be carried out, the authorities resort to foreign labor “whereas the Congolese architects have all the capacities to design and build beautiful works”. On this, he appealed to the Nation to have confidence in the national architects.
Opened this Sept. 07, the Concrete Exhibition 2017 will close on September 10.

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EditorialEditorial31 July 20172min0

According to a press release sent to KINSHASATIMES.CD, the third edition of Sultani Makutano business meeting will be held in Kinshasa on 14 to 16 September 2017. This third edition will be themed on: “Striving for the industrialisation of the DRC and ending the raw materials myth”.

Leading personalities from Africa, Europe, USA and the Congolese entrepreneurial sector will grace the event with their presence and share their experiences.  Discussions will thrash out the ways and means that would help the DRC “materialise transformative industries that can generate the resources that the country needs to move ahead”.

The press release further indicates that an evening gala and a B2B bleisure day are part of the event’s programme. The bleisure day, according to the organisers, will help businesspeople to meet and share in a relaxed setting.

Sultani Makutano is a network of successful Congolese businesspeople which was created two years ago. It brings together an estimated four hundred business men and women, groomed domestically or from the Congolese diaspora. The network seeks to position itself as a force to reckon with for solutions that would foster a domestic economy that is both inclusive and responsive to social values.

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EditorialEditorial23 July 20176min0

Global Witness, a British non-profit organisation promoting transparency and accountability, published on 21 July 2017 a report on 750 million USD dollars mining receipts that disappeared from DRC public treasury from 2013 to 2015. In order to better inform the Congolese public opinion, KINSHASATIMES.CD talked to PETER JONES, Global Witness Campaigner on DRC. Full interview is below.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: The report published by Global Witness on 21 July 2017 entitled « Regime Cash Machine » stated that 750 million dollars evaded the DRC public treasury. How did you arrive at this figure?

PETER JONES: We analysed payment data published by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and other sources to understand whether mining payments (taxes, royalties etc.) in Congo end up in the national treasury. We found that between 2013 and 2015, $750 million paid into national tax agencies (DGI, DGDA and DGRAD) and Gécamines did not reach the national treasury. It is unclear what has happened to this money.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: How did this money disappear?

PETER JONES: The EITI reports explain quite clearly that the tax agencies retain a percentage of fines “pour leur proper compte”. The evidence we gathered in interviews with businessmen, tax agents, politicians, diplomats and civil society indicated that the money kept back by the tax agencies is the ‘chasse gardée’ of the heads of the agencies, who are linked to Presidency or the Primature.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: You blame this tax evasion on a malfunctioning Congolese tax system. What do you find wrong with this tax system?

PETER JONES: One of the problems we have found with the tax system is that it is too fragmented and complicated. The tax system needs to be simplified and should be more transparent. Also, the system that allows agencies to withhold a percentage of the fines they impose has encouraged predatory behaviour by tax agents. This needs to be stopped.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: The report doesn’t seem kind either towards GECAMINES which it describes as a “real black hole in the Congolese economy”.

PETER JONES: As well as the EITI reports, we analysed leaked documentation and gathered testimony that indicates that money is extracted from Gécamines through suspicious transactions. We look in particular at a series of ‘avances sur fiscalié’ by Gécamines, where it appears to pay over $95 million in advance taxes in the space of just seven months. What is especially strange is that Gécamines instructs BGFI Bank to leave $8 million in cash au guichet. This is very unusual and our sources say this is an “embezzlement operation.” Remember that BGFI is run by Joseph Kabila’s adopted brother, Francis Selemani Mtwale.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: The bulk of the report seems to draw its facts from figures provided by EITI. Yet these figures show that DRC’s efforts to improve transparency in the mining sector are beginning to yield dividends, including 2 billion dollars in mining revenues to the government in 2014. Isn’t that a contradiction?

PETER JONES: EITI has improved transparency in Congo’s mining sector and revenues to the budget did increase each year from 2013 to 2015. We acknowledge this in our report and it is of course a positive step. However the revenues could have increased by much more if one fifth of mining receipts was not being withheld by these opaque agencies: that is what our report is trying to highlight.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: Mining companies operating in the DRC include a lot of offshore shell companies. This does not help with transparency. What are your views about this?

PETER JONES: Global Witness has run a long campaign about offshore secrecy and tax havens. We believe that offshore shell companies are often used as ‘getaway vehicles’ for criminal deals, and the opacity they bring is damaging to an economy. We have campaigned for full beneficial ownership transparency for all companies operating in Congo’s mining sector.

KINSHASATIMES.CD: What recommendations do you make for better contribution of DRC’s mining resources to country’s development?

PETER JONES: As prices increase and huge mining deals are signed, it is more important than ever that the agencies and companies charged with gathering and transferring revenues from Congo’s mining sector operate transparently and in the interests of the Congolese people. If they do not, then Congo’s state auditors, donor governments, international mining companies and civil society must encourage and pressure them to do so. Please read pages 32 and 33 of our report for full details on our recommendations.

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EditorialEditorial13 July 20172min0

In a letter from the President of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde, addressed to the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bruno Tshibala, the number one of this Bretton Woods institution, replies to the Head of the Congolese Government who, by a letter dated 12 June, has submitted a request for budgetary support in order to control the economic situation, which continues to worsen.

The IMF suggests to the Tshibala team, before any assistance, to send a team of its experts during the second half of September 2017, for consultations, with a view to making an up-to-date assessment of the economic situation of the country and an inventory of the financial needs of the government.

“Our support will have to be placed in a context allowing an improvement of the macroeconomic situation also involving the financing of the main partners of the DRC”, reads this correspondence dated 29 June 2017.

The IMF lays the trajectory of political stability as a prerequisite for the two conditions mentioned above. “If these conditions were present, the IMF staff team would be in a position to discuss with you in September a possible financial support under the Rapid Credit Facility”.

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La RédactionLa Rédaction10 July 20172min0

Canadian mining company Banro, located in the Maniema province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has decided to evacuate most of its workers.

A company statement said that a caravan of 23 trucks belonging to subcontractors working on their behalf was taken under fire during a firefight between the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) and Militiamen in Lulimba, South Kivu. The rebel group that controls the area has confiscated the trucks but the drivers are safe, Banro said.

According to an official of a security company working for the mining company, the cause of this evacuation is the worrying security situation in the east of the country.
Meanwhile, the army spokesman in the region, Captain Dieudonné Kasereka said that the localities of Luimba, Misisi, Lubondja and Iseke have been under the control of the fighters of the Mai-Mai Yakutumba self-defense group since Friday latest.

Expatriate families are leaving the city of Kindu following the announcement by the Mai Mai to continue their advance to Kindu, capital of Maniema. The women and the sick have already left the place for Bukavu via two flights from Swala Aviation. The rest of the staff was evacuated by road.

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Aimé ZonveniAimé Zonveni6 July 20171min0

Bertrand de Crombrugghe de Picquendaele, Ambassador of Belgium in the DRC, took part in the Hackathon of Kinshasa, #HacKin. The event took place from 30 June to 1 July 2017, in Kazi, a digital incubator located in Kinshasa. 

In an exclusive interview with KINSHASATIMES.CD, the Belgian diplomat, a digital enthusiast, recognized that this sector constitutes a breeding ground for the development of the DRC.

Asked why he took part in the closure of HacKin, Ambassador Bertrand replied that the digital sector can provide solutions that can improve the daily life of the Kinshasa inhabitants.

“… I found there a group of young people who, for 48 hours, have developed projects that, thanks to digital applications, can improve the daily lot of the Kinshasa inhabitants. And it is extraordinary to see the energy that they put in their business, but also the ideas, the imagination, the creativity, which we have found in the 8 projects … “, noted the Belgian diplomat.

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La RédactionLa Rédaction6 July 20172min0

The workshop on investment in the digital economy and startups in the DRC, #KonnectSummit, is taking place in Kinshasa on 6 July 2017. The Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and New Information Technologies, Emery Okudji, Highlighted the government’s efforts for the emergence of digital technology in the DRC. 

Speaking for his opening remarks at the #KonnectSummit, Minister Emery Okundji  underscored the importance of the digital sector in the economy

“… new information and communication technologies have proved to have a positive impact on all sectors of a nation’s life. Indeed, their influence on trade, agriculture, finance, health, education and many other fields of activity could help to support growth, ” the Minister emphasized.

The #KonnectSummit is a forum that brings together key players in the digital sector and promotes investment in an area that serves as a lever for country development.

“… the government has embarked on a broad program of basic infrastructure and transmission infrastructure to enable information and communication technology operators to deliver quality services to our people. Two bills, one on telecommunications and the other on trade and e-commerce, were tabled in Parliament, ” the Minister added.

These draft laws, if passed, will help lay the groundwork for better digital legislation.

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EditorialEditorial4 July 20174min0

Partnership Africa Canada (www.PACweb.org) and Fair Trade Jewelery Co., announced the first export of artisanal gold free from conflict and traceable from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Canada. This important event comes a month after Partnership Africa Canada announced that the Gold Project has put in place a traceability system for artisanal gold, making it legal and free of conflict in the DRC through a reliable supply chain from the mine site to the exporter.

Fair Trade Jewelery Co., a Toronto based jeweler who pioneered responsible sourcing, sustainable development and retail, imported three gold bars (238 grams) to Canada.

In just a few days, the Toronto team refined, allied and crafted four crafted gold rings that are free of conflict and extracted responsibly. Each of them has an engraved lot number that traces the specific mine in the Ituri province of the DRC, where gold comes from.

“Getting supplies in Congo was an extremely ambitious process, we were convinced and had the means to carry it out thanks to the partners we had on site, such as the Africa Canada Partnership, “said Robin Gambhir, Co-founder of Fair Trade Jewelery Co.

“We have been certifying our materials for more than ten years from responsible sources. We are therefore delighted to add. However, we are currently offering our customers Gold. The guarantee that our materials can be fully trusted to the communities is one way to encourage development and as a company, to further influence the life of many stakeholders,” added the co-founder.

Partnership of Africa Canada launched Gold just as a pilot project in 2015 in the province of Ituri. This project encourages artisanal gold miners to distribute their products to legal exporters and ultimately to responsible consumers, and to offer a fair and transparent price and capacity building, such as technical assistance to minors in exchange for legal sales. Miners learn better exploitation techniques and receive equipment from the Just Gold project. In return, the gold they must be monitored and sold in a legal manner.

Currently, the project has more than 600 minors enrolled in six sites.

Fair Trade Jewelery Co.’s approach to importing gold is an important step as the project is being formalized through a reliable supply chain linking the mine site and the exporter in the DRC. The jeweler also works in tandem with his sister company, the young Toronto-based software company Consensas, to trace the gold from the export to the consumer.

“This export from Bunia (DRC) to Toronto is proof that Canadian and international clients with gold artisanal, traceable and free from Congo conflict. In fact, beauty of it is to have shown that one can obtain for each gram of gold reliable, qualitative and quantitative data, indicating the source and stakeholders involved in its extraction, production and trade,” said Joanne Lebert, Director General, Partnership Africa Canada.

“The industry can no longer bury its head in the sand and impossible to exercise a duty of care in chains of the supply of gold, for we have shown the contrary,” she said.

Partnership Africa Canada will draw on the constraints encountered during this export (high export taxes, transport restrictions, administrative paperwork) to ask the Congolese government to improve the conditions of legal trade and responsible investment.

Funding for the Partnership Africa Canada’s Just Gold project comes from World Business Canada, as well as from USAID through the Capacity Building for Responsible Minerals Trade (CBRMT) project and the International Organization for Migration.

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La RédactionLa Rédaction4 July 20173min0

The world is celebrating the international “plastic-free” day on July 3rd. However, this day, which would have been for the Kinois, a great opportunity for reflection on the improvement of their environments, went unnoticed over the whole Congolese capital.

For this great metropolis, where there is a serious problem of waste management and precisely household waste, constituted in most cases of sachets, no initiative was observed on July 3rd throughout the city.

A date practically unknown to the Kinois and Kinoises. However, this day was declared by the United Nations. And according to the story, everything started from the 1865s in the United States, where plastics were invented.

The plastic bag, commonly called the sachet in the DRC, is made from petroleum derivatives. It was invented to replace billiard balls that became too expensive. And since those years, there is not a single day that passes without using the plastic bag.

However, it has a double disadvantage effect. On the one hand, it is very little biodegradable and, on the other hand, it disperses at the expense of wind and currents.

Like any object, the plastic bag has advantages and disadvantages. Among these benefits, let’s say it is lighter than glass. It is a major asset for the manufacture of bottles. Its solidity, robustness and cost, more affordable than glass or metal, make it increasingly popular in Congolese households. Its lifespan, its versatility, its modernity, the most obvious example of which is the mobile phone, also its practical side are all advantages that it presents to its users.

However, as disadvantages, the plastic bag has a long shelf life. This is taken as an advantage and a disadvantage for future generations who will suffer the impact of plastic packaging on the environment. Its chemical components are being decried at the moment. And bisphenol A is at the center of all scientific discussions about its toxicity. Finally, scientifically proven, the plastic bag causes the increase in some cancers that would be due to plastic particles, which degrade over time.

To preserve nature, plastic bags must be replaced by reusable and recyclable bags, or even by paper packaging, even if they are not a panacea. Because soon there will be a problem with oil. Knowing that without oil this energy will disappear.

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