November 22, 2017

Congo’s oil find: cause for excitement or worry?

Most citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo citizens are indifferent to the country’s embarrassment of mineral resources, as, in the past four decades, it has brought them more harm than good. Their country has been the turf of ravenous individuals from all corners of the world struggling to loot the country’s minerals. Now, oil has been added to the country’s mineral portfolio, following confirmation of the presence of deposits under the dense Virunga Park by a British Oil Company. The DRC’s Minister of Hydrocarbons, Aime Ngoy Mukena confirmed this to news agency, AFP.

The news should excite politicians but the country’s citizens are not sure how to react to this good news, at least from what African Mining Brief Online, discovered from a snap survey conducted amongst DRC Citizens resident in South Africa.

African Mining Brief went around gauging the viewpoints of DRC citizens resident in South Africa. And, though some were guarded in their response, in general they indicated lack of belief that the benefits of the oil find would trickle down to the masses.

Pascal Bizimungu, a businessman based in Johannesburg Central Business District, hoped that the proceeds would be used wisely, but he said the government should introduce chains and balances in the management of state revenues from the country’s natural resources.

Étienne Chimbonda, a final year geology university student, was not that excited. “We have seen that before. We get billions revenue from minerals but where does it go?” she asked, before proceeding: “I am not convinced that oil dollars will be used better. I stand to be corrected.”

Mercia Kabila, a recent arrival who claimed to be waiting for her asylum documents, is unapologetically opposed to the idea of selling her country’s resources to West companies who were only interested in profit.

“Why I am here? It’s because of foreign forces struggling for the control of DRC. Given a choice, I would not be here. We don’t look like a country so rich in resources that other countries can envy,” said the native of Katanga Province.

To a large degree, the doubts can be vindicated. The jury is yet out on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s ability to introduce checks and balances to its mineral supply chain to ensure that the revenue from the country’s resources is channeled to development projects. Findings from various independent bodies confirm that the country’s minerals, with the complicity of government officials, have been smuggled out to neighbouring countries and exported overseas Minerals have fueled instability in the country.

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