Congo seeks additional $17 billion in infrastructure investments from China deal
- According to the Sicomines agreement, the Chinese financiers pledged to invest $3 billion in infrastructure initiatives.
The Congolese state auditor has requested an additional $17 billion investment from Chinese investors in a 2008 deal involving minerals for infrastructure, which is currently being renegotiated. The Chinese embassy in Congo has criticized the report, calling it biased and disconnected from reality.
The country’s President is examining the deal previously made by his predecessor, which saw Sinohydro Corp and China Railway Group Limited construct hospitals and roads in return for a 68% stake in Sicomines, a copper and cobalt joint venture with Gecamines, Congo’s state mining company.
The IGF, the state auditor, has demanded that the initial $3 billion infrastructure investment be raised to $20 billion to reflect Gecamines’ contribution to the deal. Sicomines has yet to respond to requests for comment.
In reference to Congo’s collaboration with other countries, the Chinese embassy described the deal as a “great example of win-win partnership,” employing a phrase that Tshisekedi often uses. However, the embassy’s statement on Twitter did not directly address the IGF’s demands.
According to the IGF report, Sicomines has only invested $822 million in infrastructure development, prompting the auditor to demand an “immediate” $1 billion investment from Sicomines, and a pledge to ensure that 50% of the workforce on infrastructure projects is Congolese.
The IGF also presented 16 demands, including a call for a “renegotiation of the Convention” to balance the obligations and benefits of both parties and bring them in line with their respective contributions. The auditor further demanded that Gecamines be given a greater stake in Sicomines, as it presently holds only 32%.
Congo’s finance minister, Nicolas Kazadi, told Reuters in the previous month that the government plans to finalize an agreement on the Sicomines deal this year. In September, Congo lifted the tax exemption on Sicomines, which excused the company from paying import taxes, but the suspension is still in effect, according to two officials who spoke with Reuters.