Intent on renegotiating mining contracts signed with China by his predecessor, President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) says he wants to get fairer deals. 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.
Former President Joseph Kabila, who held power from 2001 to 2019, negotiated a highly contentious minerals-for-infrastructure contract with the Chinese in 2008 valued at $9bn.
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, according to a report by ALJAZEERA.
To date, about $2.74bn has been disbursed by the Chinese.
During a visit to the mining town of Kolwezi in May, Tshisekedi announced his intention to renegotiate mining contracts for DR Congo, 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,” he said.
“It is time for the country to readjust its contracts with the miners in order to seal win-win partnerships.”
Earlier this year, China granted some debt relief to DR Congo aimed at helping it overcome the economic fallout from the pandemic.
As a result, DR Congo did not have to repay its interest-free loans from China that matured at the end of 2020. The amount of debt that was forgiven was not disclosed
According to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University’s China Africa Research Initiative, Chinese entities have extended 53 loans to the DRC between 2000 and 2018. Most of the lending was focused on the power, transport, and mining sectors.