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Chinese firms to spend $7bn on Congolese roads in mining deal

The DRC has fewer all-weather highways in relation to its size than any country in Africa. This amounts to a total of 2,250km, of which only 1,226km are in good condition (Fedor Sidorov/Dreamstime)
A Chinese consortium has agreed to invest $7bn in road improvements to settle a legal dispute with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the World Highways website reports.

The dispute concerned an agreement reached in 2008 between the government of Joseph Kabila, who left office in 2019, and contractors Sinohydro and China Railway Group.

According to its terms, the state-owned Chinese companies would build $3bn worth of roads, railways, schools, hospitals and dams in exchange for a 68% stake in Sino Congolaise des Mines (Sicomines), a joint venture with Congo’s state mining company, Gecamines.

This gave the Chinese access to a copper and cobalt mine in Kolwezi in the southeastern DRC.

The newly elected government of Felix Tshisekedi sought to renegotiate the deal in February last year on the grounds that the value of the mineral rights obtained by Chinese companies greatly outweighed the $3bn that China was committed to spending.

At the time, it was reported that the DRC was looking for £17bn in investment (see further reading).

The Congolese government has now announced that the renegotiated deal will make $7bn available, and that most of that amount would be spent on the construction, upgrading, and maintenance of highways.

The package is a significant addition to the country’s $16bn national budget. As yet, no information has been given as to the specific schemes that will benefit from the extra money.  

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