Kinshasa blocks Sicomines imports to force contract review
The state auditor is stepping up pressure on the miner owned by China and DRC in the hope of forcing the initial 2008 deal between Kinshasa and Beijing to be renegotiated.
China's supremacy in Congolese mining has recently been challenged by both the government in Kinshasa and by Washington's renewed influence in the DRC. Beijing, in a bid to counteract this trend, has overhauled its previous communications strategy to focus on transparency and human rights.
The French president has been trying to get China on board his summit of African economies for months but Beijing has yet to RSVP his invitation. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken should represent Joe Biden at the 18 May event, to which several African heads of state have been hastily invited at the last minute.
One of the tasks of the new Congolese government is to seal a deal with the state-owned French firm over the installation of a multi-document platform that can print the country's biometric passports and identity cards and may later produce biometric driving licences.
Xi Jinping's regime has invited the Congolese head of state to visit Beijing later this spring to discuss economic cooperation between the two countries. The invitation comes as Washington, which has made a dramatic return to the DRC since the election of Felix Tshisekedi, is closely scrutinizing Chinese activity in the country.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) will try to quickly discover if the mineral deposits mined by Sino-Congolese joint venture Sicomines are sufficent to enable the DRC to repay China's investment costs in the venture or if China should be given free access to other sites, as the agreement at the origin of the project provides.