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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Minerals & oil

Over the past few years, reporting for the Congo has changed focus a bit. Reuters was bought up by Thomson (a publishing and financial research company) in early 2008, and began to focus more on financial news. A bit before that, Bloomberg agency set up shop in Kinshasa, with its traditional focus on business and the economy. (The other foreign correspondents in Kin are from BBC, AFP, Xinhua and AP, I believe, although some are stringers and some are staff).

All this to say that we've been getting good coverage of financial news in the Congo. Take the past few days, for example:

  • An oil conference is underway in Kinshasa, and the Congolese announced that they will be opening Lake Kivu (natural gas) and Lake Tanganyika (oil) for prospection.
  • Simultaneously, the Angolan government announced that they want to extend their territorial waters from 200 to 350 kilometers, further encroaching on Congolese waters.
  • Then the Congo released the first of three reports commissioned to audit revenue transparency in mining and oil. The report is for 2007, and was released under the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). In 2007, 25 companies paid $405 million in taxes to the government, but there were discrepancies on the order of $75 million - but sometimes the government reported more, sometimes less than the companies said. The Planning Minister Olivier Kamitatu is in charge of the initiative, as well as the plan to lift the Congo by 20 places in the World Bank index of doing business.
  • And the IMF confirmed that the Congo was on track to get $10 billion in debt relief by June 2010.
Not bad for a few days.


Billy said...

hey jason,

i read your blog pretty much every day because i am not that good in french and i find that this is the best way to stay up on congolese affairs.

i was really intrigued to read that reuters report yesterday about the angolan assembly's resolution authorizing luanda to negotiate with the DRC on extending their border outwards, especially because of the post you had a few months back which first brought this issue to my attention.

question, though: what exactly is going on with this? i'm not sure i fully understand what luanda is even proposing. are they saying, "let's just draw the line out even farther," essentially just adding on a lego? or are they saying, "let's resolve our dispute [i.e. give concessions to Kinshasa and allow the Congolese to lay claim to some oil blocks closer to shore, within 200 miles as is DRC's right under Montego Bay], so that we can then go to the UN, hat in hand, and ask for our 350 mile EEZ without having to explain why it is that we're denying the Congo from ITS right to the minerals off its own shore."

Do you see my confusion? Check out this line, too, from Angop:

"On its report, the National Assembly recommends that the negotiation basis must strictly observe the accords signed between the former colonial powers of Angola and DR Congo, Portugal and Belgium, respectively, that set the basis for the delimitation of the maritime border."

Assuming that is the treaty from the late 19th century which established Cabinda as the Portuguese protectorate? Man I wish I spoke Portuguese and had access to the archives in Lisbon, because I have no idea how I will ever decipher what these agreements stated.

Sorry for such a long post but could not find your email. Thanks for doing what you do.

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