On the sidelines of the Kinshasa Economic Forum, the EU launched an initial mobilization of €50 million in the DRC's critical minerals sector and infrastructure projects.
The European Union has announced an initial investment of €50 million in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's critical minerals sector and infrastructure projects.
The funding was announced at the first Kinshasa Economic Forum, which brought together the DRC, the EU and France.
French President Emmanuel Macron attended the forum along with European Commissioners for the Internal Market and International Partnerships, Thierry Breton and Jutta Urpilainen, and more than 50 CEOs of French companies.
The investment in the DRC's geological mapping, urban infrastructure and digital education projects is part of the EU's "Global Gateway" initiative, which aims to counter the Chinese "Belt and Road" initiative.
Half of the $300 billion budget made available to the initiative is allocated to African countries for key infrastructure projects, as well as investments in the energy and production sectors.
Despite hosting untapped raw material reserves worth an estimated €22.6 trillion, including almost half of the world's largest cobalt reserves, the DRC remains largely an exporter of raw minerals. In 2019, 84% of the DRC's cobalt exports went to China.
EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutti Urpilainen stressed that partnerships with the DRC “must be more than just mining” and called for a win-win partnership that builds the entire value chain, promoting processing, refining and manufacturing in the DRC.
But Urpilainen also defended that "peace and stability are preconditions for sustainable development." The DRC is embroiled in a prolonged diplomatic crisis with neighboring Rwanda, which it accuses of supporting rebel groups based in the DRC.
Commissioner Breton announced that the EU would publish its Critical Raw Materials Law in mid-March, aimed at ensuring the availability of critical raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, manganese and rare earths needed for electric vehicles and turbines. wind.
However, the DRC economy is on an upward trajectory, with GDP growth of 6.1% in 2022, and is expected to reach 6.7% this year, according to the latest IMF figures.
Its strategic minerals - essential for the ecological energy transition - make it a country with great investment opportunities. Last November, credit rating agency Moody's upgraded the DRC's rating from Caa1 to B3 with a stable outlook as a result of institutional improvements.
However, the agency noted that "the country's credit solvency remains limited by its very low GDP per capita, its poor competitiveness, the weakness of its institutions and the deterioration of the political risk environment."