Yaounde, Cameroon – (African Boulevard News) – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi is set to travel to Beijing on May 26 for a crucial bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. The meeting will focus on finding a resolution to the ongoing dispute between the DRC government and Sicomines, a Chinese state-owned mining company.
The dispute dates back to 2007 when Sicomines secured mining deals with the DRC government to extract copper and cobalt resources in the southern Katanga region. Under the agreement, Sicomines would invest $6bn in infrastructure projects such as roads, hospitals, and schools. However, the Congolese government accuses Sicomines of failure to fulfill its obligations, including under-investment and delays in project delivery.
According to a recent report by Africa Intelligence, the dispute has led to a significant loss of revenue for the DRC and has impacted the country’s economic growth. Furthermore, the report indicates that if the dispute is not resolved, it could affect President Tshisekedi’s efforts to attract foreign investment, and his relationship with China, a crucial ally to the DRC.
President Tshisekedi’s upcoming visit to Beijing presents a chance to address the Sicomines dispute and restore the relationship between the two countries. Given China’s significant investment in the DRC, the meeting is of high importance, and stakeholders will be keenly watching any developments.
However, some analysts suggest that the issue may not be resolved immediately, given the complexity and legal implications surrounding the dispute. Concerns have also been raised over the possibility of a bilateral loan agreement between the DRC and China, given the financial pressures currently facing the African nation.
Speaking to African Boulevard News, Mbuyi Kankolongo, a political analyst based in Kinshasa, said: “The Sicomines dispute has put the Congolese government in a difficult position, but President Tshisekedi’s visit to Beijing presents an opportunity to address the issue. It would be a significant boost to the country’s economy if the dispute is resolved, and the DRC continues to attract foreign investors.”
In conclusion, President Tshisekedi’s Beijing trip is of high significance and has the potential to resolve the long-standing Sicomines dispute. However, given the legal complexities and financial pressures facing the DRC, it remains to be seen if a settlement can be reached during the visit. Nevertheless, the trip presents an opportunity for both countries to strengthen their relationship and promote cooperation on various fronts.