13 November 2017

South Africa: SA, DRC Work to Remove Trade Barriers

South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have committed to remove hurdles that hinder the two countries in doing business.

The move, which was agreed to on Monday, followed a discussion held during the Investment and Trade Initiative (ITI) seminar organised by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) in Lubumbashi, DRC.

South African Consul General in Lubumbashi, Andrew Maswanganye, said it is important for both countries to work towards harmonising the climate of doing business. He also called on the two sides to come up with ideas on how to implement agreements that are already in place.

"It is important to identify opportunities that will work for our businesspeople in order to increase trade and investment between us. We also need to zoom in on the critical sectors where skill transfer and technology transfer must be fast-tracked. We also encourage businesspeople to work with governments to address factors hindering their ability to do work in these countries," he said.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State Economy in the DRC Joseph Kapika said that the Congolese government's priority is to ensure that the One Stop Shop created for business registrations and investment facilitation has resources to fulfil its mandate for the country.

The Minister also appealed to South Africa to share its expertise, technological advancement and skills transfer in order to assist his country.

Opportunities in mining, manufacturing

Consul General Maswanganye also accompanied South African businesspeople to the province of Lualaba, where the 29 member-delegation engaged further on opportunities in the mining, manufacturing, agriculture and the tourism sectors.

The recently designated Lualaba Province is host to some of the country's largest mines which produce copper and cobalt.

Addressing businesspeople who participated in the ITI, the Governor of Lualaba province, Richard Muyez Mangeze Mans, said that the provincial government's goal was to attract investments that would diversify their economy away from the extractive industries.

"Our strategy is to encourage investments that will contribute to the development of sectors that bolster industrialisation as well as the creation of small and medium enterprises. We have started with the construction of the social infrastructure. We believe that the total effect of all of our efforts will be the creation of a middle class which will significantly uplift our provincial economy," said Mans.

Mans said they were convinced that by reducing their reliance on mining sector revenues, which are subject to fluctuating international commodity prices, the province would be making big strides towards their end-goal of having a diversified economy.

He also encouraged South African businesspeople to engage further with the provincial Congolese Chamber of Commerce in order to find suitable partners for the formation of joint ventures and partnerships.

Chief Director of Trade Invest Africa at the dti, Zanele Mkhize, commended the advances made in building social infrastructure since the designation of Lualaba.

"The doors have been open for South African businesses to invest in this province. Every single business attending the ITI can find trade and investment opportunities in a variety of sectors identified by the province such as agriculture, mining, tourism, power generation as well as water and sanitation," she said.

The ITI, which was funded and organized by the dti, which got underway on Monday, concluded on Saturday.

The objective of the ITI, was to increase trade and deepen bilateral relations between South Africa and the DRC. Trade between the two countries stood at R12.8 billion at the end of 2016.

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