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Democratic Republic of CONGO - INTERVIEW 
Interview with H.E. Ingele IFOTO
Minister of Mines of the DRC


Mr. Ingele Ifoto: The mining sector in DRC is considered as a "geological scandal" in connection with the quantity and the quality of our minerals; and additionally we have all kind of minerals throughout Congo. Moreover, the mining sector is the most important one as regards with the economy of our country, and the economical re-launching or resuming of Congo, which are going to be achieved through a rehabilitation process in this sector. Nowadays, the advantages we do have are stability in the political level through pacification and reunification of the country without forgetting -reorganising balanced point of macroeconomics; all these factors influenced positively the mining sector. Lots of efforts have been made mainly in the inflation that we found at the rate of more than 200% and now it is at 8% to 10%. We develop reforms in the mining sector level and meanwhile efforts are performed in political, economical and financial levels. Presently, we have a new legislation specially: the "Mining Code" which is very competitive and attractive in the mining sector. By elaborating it, we associated donors, Congolese and foreign businessmen including naturally our government. A text commitment resulted from thereof. The state released its obligation to private company and will promote, guide and regulate it. Formerly, these mining production companies were state companies but nowadays, due to the mining code, the state released progressively its obligation to private companies, which are taking over. This is a general framework that we are altogether regulated.

Summit Communications: It's compulsory for American investors to know about the Mining Code advantages. What are the three outstanding points that allow foreign investors in general to focus in rational way on this mining sector?

Mr. Ingele Ifoto: First of all, in terms of judicial and legal safety: the Mining Code asserts and institutes a legal regime that allows private companies to compete and to be lodged in the common law. In other words, if a problem rises in the legal level, these companies shall lay a matter to legal courts as well as others. They are altogether protected by the Mining Code. In addition every Congolese can nowadays benefit in getting mining certificates. Formerly, it was only related to Congolese government. In obtaining a concession, three ways are offered by the Mining Code:
1. You can create your own company according to the Congolese legislation;
2. If you don't want to own a mining concession, you can joint venture in partnership with Congolese companies that are already exploiting;
3. For small mining exploitation, you can have a purchase and sale county of some precious matters in Congo.

That allows Congolese government to regulate, as it is its prominent role. As a matter of fact, the Mining Code institutes transparency mechanism, rapidity mechanism due to set deadline and mechanism of objectivity. In short, we have good governance owing to transparency; objectivity and files speed process as far as they are involved. As a Minister, I set deadlines (dates): when one comes to apply, the application is processed right there and not within 45 days and he will directly own a mining concession. Second, in terms of fiscal and customs regime, there is complete exemption in regards with mining products, exportations and importations. There are no more administrative disturbances when one should go by many offices to pay taxes or obtain different licences. Nowadays, we open a single office where payment shall be done once. Third, we are getting into international process of Kimberley that requires transparency between the extraction and sale of minerals like Diamond, Colton and Gold. We have to know exactly who are the persons to buy these goods, and who will export them, and through which channel. I admit that this process has allowed to the government to collect an important financial flow. Generally speaking diamond and mineral sectors is the pillar of the national economy. The positive impacts are not only on mining royalties but also on the fact that investors come with millions of dollars, which will be poured in others national sectors as regards with foreign currencies.

Summit Communications: Nowadays, we can say that you have true mission to re-launch the economy of the country but also with the regions. Would you give us, according to your point of view, the dimension of your geological size?

Mr. Ingele Ifoto: This mission will always be appreciated, as my country didn't have porous borders. Unfortunately, instead of being a mission, it is a responsibility. DRC can play a prominent role in connection with exporting its development towards other countries. But unfortunately, our development becomes now our difficulty; instead of exporting our richness in supporting other nations, other nations envy our wealthy. This is the very geo-strategic dimension. We are aware of the role we were playing formerly, but we can play it also today. It takes Congo to develop a good neighbourliness policy, which will allow exporting its richness to the profit of Congolese first of all and then to the needy countries. The current issue is that we don't have means to make transformation within the country. Presently, we cannot mention richness in reality but rather about great potentialities. The Congolese man is the richness of the Congo.

Summit Communications: How do you rate the mining sector nowadays?

Mr. Ingele Ifoto: Congolese mining sector is suffering from three diseases: the first one is focused on political level; our crisis and conflicts have disrupted the function of the Republic, the state and the society, which caused us to be excluded as a people from international assistance. I admit that without credibility on international level in every sector, no one dares to come investing massively in Congo. Currently mining sector requires 1.5 B dollars in order to rise up and we don't find who is ready to take risks. Secondly, working equipment that we use, are disused and don't fit to the new technology period. Actually, we still have equipment let by Belgium up to now. We make small-scale production, which is presently more profitable. The third one is the Congolese man! Management and experience acquired with partnership are misbalanced and don't profit to Congo. I admit that no partnership benefits to DRC.

Summit Communications: And what is the remedy you will advocate in order to cure your country from its diseases?

Mr. Ingele Ifoto: Now, if there would be any remedy, it is to contact partners that would like to accept bringing necessary funds as well as their experience in this sector. I can admit that if we stand till today, it is due to investors and mainly private ones. The Mining Code outlines in stating, "The country releases its obligations and let the place to private companies" but not the ministry. A partnership would be a solution but the current problem is that Congo doesn't know how to assess oneself: nobody knows clearly the exact mining value of DRC. The ministry intends primarily to up-to-date geological and mining data. The only maps, as well as the machines we have now, dated from the period of the independence in 1960. Sometimes, we are bound to contact Belgium to have maps of mining areas of the country. We are cooperating with South Africa's organisation that will support us in modernising maps. Once we solved those aforesaid problems, we will deal with ways of draining. The Congo has important resources to achieve in producing and transforming factories within the country. Presently, competing between modern companies is not a preoccupation of one government but rather of royalties, bonus as well as creating jobs. But we are in the transitional government and they should take into account certain constraints. They start planning in reforming this sector and even though its implementation will not be performed during the transitional period, we will be sure enough to lay solid foundations.

Summit Communications: What is your strategy to set into place production equipment that is an added value on them?

Mr. Ingele Ifoto: The first thing is to assess well potentiality of our mining resources. Figures are dated from Belgium colonisation whenever we conclude a partnership or an association; we assess the concerned deposit appointed. Reliability survey becomes then compulsory; for example, Gecamines owns 25% partnership but none knows the exact value of Gecamines. It is a matter of Congolese politicians, and of political, cultural, economical and moral struggles, which bother Congolese. If there is any reform to be done, we have to start by framing first of all the Congolese man. We have missed a good opportunity during the inter-congolese dialog to define the profile of congolese leaders in the end of 2002 in South Africa. Nowadays, if there were kind of any mould in which to we could frame Congolese man are: school, education and training. It will take an integral approach of development, which involves man himself. I thank you for understanding that you should not leave Congo apart, in forsaking it into prejudices. Let us seek for what is positive, coming out from the negative consideration of the understanding of Congo, because there is a little effort which is already performed.