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Over 200 investors to scout for investment deals in Kinshasa

BUSINESS
By Dominic Omondi | November 2nd 2021
By Dominic Omondi | November 2nd 2021
BUSINESS

DRC Embassy to Kenya Second Secretary Botuli Bosaw Geoffrey,  Trade Cabinet Secretary  Betty Maina and Equity Group Managing Director and CEO Dr James Mwangi when Kenya announced Kenya - DRC trade mission. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Local investors venturing into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been assured of their safety, even as the government organises a 15-day trade mission into the country.

Kenya, DRC and Equity Bank will jointly organise a 15-day trade mission that will see local investors visit the Central African nation from November 29 to December 13.

But the civil strife in some parts of DRC has elicited fears that the budding trade relations between the two nations might not blossom.

“There is a way in which we see the narrative of our relationship with African countries from that of the Western media,” said the Cabinet Secretary for Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development Betty Maina.

Ms Maina described some of the information on insecurities in certain African countries such as DRC as “myths.”

Kenya is keen on making forays into the resource-rich country with the admission of DRC into the East African Community (EAC) expected to allow local investors unfettered access to a market of 100 million people.

Consequently, there are plans to mobilise over 200 local investors on a trade mission that will see them visit DRC’s four largest cities - Kinshasha, Lubumbashi, Goma and Mbuji Mayi. The event will also be attended by DRC investors and public participants.

It will include trade exhibitions, business forums and site visits.

The joint initiative is a result of an agreement between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his DRC counterpart Felix Tshisekedi in April this year, when the two leaders signed bilateral agreements aimed at enhancing movement between the countries.

However, the pockets of violence in some parts of the country, particularly in Eastern Congo, has unnerved some investors.

Kenyan ambassador to DRC George Masafu allayed the insecurity fears, noting that it is a red herring employed to scare away investors.

He said following President Kenyatta’s meeting with Tshekedi, Kenyan troops had been put to guard the trade corridor. “We are not going there for peace-keeping. We have strategic interests to protect,” said Masafu.

The envoy noted that there are peacekeeping troops, including Kenyan troops to ensure Kenya’s interests in DRC are protected.

Equity Bank Chief Executive Officer James Mwangi said the decision by the lender to expand its footprint into DRC was a testament to their belief in the stability of the country.

Equity Bank has also dangled a Sh500 billion war-chest to Kenyan companies keen to venture into DRC. “We would not be buying a second bank if security was an issue,” said Mwangi. Mwangi said the low-lying fruits in Kenya’s foray into DRC will be processed food with the country importing most of its food from Europe and North America.

Although DRC is one of Kenya’s leading export markets, the value of Nairobi’s commodities destined for Kinshasha has been falling.

In the last five years to 2020, the value of exports to DRC has declined by nearly a third to Sh14.3 billion from Sh20 billion in 2016. It is noteworthy, that Kenya’s exports to Africa peers have been declining.

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