05 Dec 2012
December 5, 2012

Rumble in the Congo

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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been in the news recently owing to rebels taking the strategically important city of Goma on the Rwandan border.  Centre to most of the reportage has been the assistance Rwanda and Uganda has been alleged to be providing to the rebels.  In any case, a quick Google of the topic will bring you up to date – I’m in a rush but may blog at more length later. The thing I’d like to flag here quickly is that added to the goings-on in the East of that benighted country, on Monday the IMF suspended a $500m loan owing to ongoing concerns about government corruption.  On top of last year’s very controversial election, things are looking very shaky indeed for the DRC.  And that’s a shame for the people of a country with enormous mineral resources under their soil.

I’ve been going to and from the Congo for a dozen years now, and last year got heavily involved in stories of government corruption in the DRC.  The upshot was that two UK-listed mining companies settled between them for $1.2B following exposure of the fact that some of the DRC government’s deals were very dodgy indeed.  The whole business was widely reported in the UK press, not least as it involved an usual removal from a FTSE100 Board by force a well-known UK executive, Sir Richard Sykes. At the time, I pressed the World Bank and the IMF to insist on transparent revenue reporting – to be fair on them both, they reluctantly continued support in spite of their deep reservations.  Now they’ve suspended support because of precisely the deals listed elsewhere on this website (scroll down a few posts and you’ll come to the most relevant ones).

The whole Cong0 story is, at present, one of ‘baddie’ neighbours and investors, depending on which parts of the newspapers you read.  But right now there are stories which cross normal boundaries between Africa Conflict/Development/Business in the UK and in my less than modest view, that’s  getting too little attention.