Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Putting Humpty Dumpty back together

REPORTAGE - Les grands chantiers - RD Congo
Uploaded by AFRICA24. - News videos hot off the press.

Many of you may have already seen this, but here are a couple of promotional clips of Kabila's infrastructure program that the government has been putting out on the web recently. The government has become much more sophisticated in its public relations - many ministries have websites, and the president himself has two main ones: and

The clip gives a good idea of Kabila's meteoric ambitions. Of course, many questions are left unanswered - how many projects are there, what is their cost, who is financing each of the projects, how does the procurement and tendering process proceed and what are the provisions, if any, for audits and evaluations? In the case of the Chinese projects, is the Congolese government getting the appropriate price for the mining concessions they have given them?

Some of these questions are answered on the Cinq Chantiers website, and others on the ministry of budget's homepage, but I have had a hard time finding comprehensive data on the reconstruction projects. The clip above says that the reconstruction program is worth $2 billion, and that the initial Chinese contribution will reach $1 billion. But it is clear that the government is counting all the World Bank, bilateral and NGO efforts as part of the Cinq Chantiers reconstruction.

(FYI, check Wikileaks for the China-Congo contract, a friend recently uploaded the 2008 version with all of the mining concessions and infrastructure projects. Wikileaks is currently not fully operational, so it may be difficult to access the document.)

Another project that I initially filed in the "pie in the sky" category has actually begun: the Cite du Fleuve, a huge new Dubai-like city that is being built in the Congo river. Check out their website for a promo video, it's hard to know whether to laugh or to cry: This megaproject, which is also featured in the video above, is being financed by Mukwa Investments via Hawkwood Properties, a Lusaka based company that serves US and European investors, according to its chief investment officer, Hillary Duckworth. Duckworth has an interesting background: He comes from a prominent white Zambian family that made a fortune in farming and banking. He went on to co-found Trans Zambesi Investments, one of the biggest conglomerates in Zambia and Zimbabwe, but which has recently fallen on hard times. The Cite du Fleuve is basically supposed to relocate the entire Kinshasa downtown and also provide for residential housing. According to the plan, it span 375 hectares, include 10,000 apartments, 10,000 offices, 2,000 shops, 15 diplomatic missions, 3 hotels, 2 churches, 1 university, 3 day care centers and a shopping mall. Wow-ee. It apparently will take 8 years to build. I wonder how much the cost is?

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