The head of the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) travelled across the Netherlands for three days, stacking up meetings with Dutch officials, private sector representatives and key stakeholders in the diaspora and Dutch-Congolese relations, with one simple message: invest in the heart of Africa!
After a visit to Berlin last September, Matata Ponyo Mapon, the DRC’s Prime Minister, was in the Netherlands from 29 to 31 October promoting his country as a business destination to the Dutch Government and private sector stakeholders.
He undertook this mission accompanied by a large and distinguished delegation composed of the Ministers for Economy, Trade, Transport, and Finance as well as representatives of the Congolese Business Federation (FEC), the Laity Federation of NGOs with economic vocation of Congo (FOLECO), the Confederation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises of the Congo (COPEMECO), and the DRC’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Professor Henri Mova Sakani.
The DRC-Netherlands Business Forum, held on 29 October in Noordwijk, was the first stop. It was a forum designed to lay the foundations of stronger cooperation between the DRC and the Netherlands and an initiative from the Netherlands-African Business Council (NABC) organised in partnership with the Dutch and Congolese governments.
“You are here because you are interested in the DRC, a waking giant, on course to become the largest in Africa,” said Bob Van Der Bijl, NABC’s Managing Director (right). “‘If I were younger, I would choose to start all over again in the DRC because it’s a country with huge potential’,” a Norwegian working in one of the largest Nigerian companies said to me.
“As a Dutchman,” Bob Van Der Bijl continued, “from a country of cheese, an agricultural country, I am also delighted that the DRC is investing in agri-industrial parks. A pillar of our future relations. There are other sectors with strong potential, in infrastructure, energy, transport etc.”
Matata Ponyo Mapon reminded his Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister, “of the excellent cooperative relations between our two countries.”
“In the field of security,” he said, “the DRC frequently suffers from armed conflict and the Netherlands is a key player; never afraid to take up the DRC’s cause to establish a permanent return to peace, security and stability in the Great Lakes region.”
The DRC’s armed forces, with the support of the UN’s intervention brigade, have ended the atrocities committed by the March 23 Movement (known as M23). “The country is now at peace; it can therefore welcome investors once again.”
The aim of Matata Ponyo’s visit is precisely to back up and highlight the news of the DRC’s economic performance and the many business opportunities it has to offer.
“For many years, the DRC has been resolutely committed to making courageous reforms designed notably to stabilise its macroeconomic framework, promote governance, improve state efficiency, combat corruption and to improve its business climate, essentially to support sustainable growth.
These efforts have certainly borne fruit under President Joseph Kabila’s leadership. They highlight,” the Prime Minister continued, “the positive direction the country has taken, confirmed partly by multilateral institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank and the AfDB, and partly by international ratings agencies, such as Standard & Poor’s or Moody’s.”
When it comes to improving the business climate, the World Bank published its Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency report on 29 October 2014. Between June 2013 and June 2014, out of the 230 reforms classed towards improving the business climate, 145 of them focused on reducing the complexity and costs linked to business regulation and 85 others were designed to strengthen legal institutions.
The DRC figures among the five African countries classed as the best economic reformers. Predicted growth in 2014 remains 8.7%. The macroeconomic framework is stable. Inflation remains very low and exchange rates are not volatile; currency reserves are only growing.