Doha and Kinshasa finally consolidate ties
Investments from Qatar in DR Congo are expected to be announced shortly. Félix Tshisekedi is also preparing to open his first embassy in Qatar.
The contract signed in December last year by Kinshasa and DP World goes beyond building a deepwater port at Banana. Its provisions also cover the river port of Matadi, at the risk of irking the players - Abu Dhabi Ports, Qatar and Bolloré - in the running for the deal to modernise the site.
Nurturing relations with the leading Gulf power is an absolute necessity for all African presidents seeking financial and political support in the Arab world. To develop their lines of communications with the Wahhabi monarchy, African heads of state choose personalities of the first order.
The Emirati firm DP World wants an exclusive zone around the port they plan to build in Banana. Such a zone would prevent Australia's Fortescue from moving forward with their project. The Congolese authorities have asked the two companies to come to an agreement so that both projects can progress.
President Tshisekedi has a team of nine special advisors he likes to call on. Playing on rivalries among the members of Joseph Kabila's Front Commun pour le Congo, some have taken charge of state matters even if that means encroaching on the portfolios of the ministers concerned.
The deepwater Banana port project, bogged down for months by the Covid-19 pandemic and tensions between President Félix Tshisekedi and ministers loyal to his predecessor Joseph Kabila, now looks like it might move forward by the end of the year.
Though it has so far had limited repercussions on the continent, the six-month diplomatic stand-off between Qatar and Saudi Arabia is now being exported to West Africa. It remains largely a war of words, but tensions may shortly ramp up