THE UN envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo called Monday for a major injection of private investment to shore up peace and turn the country into “the economic heart of Africa.”
“It is time for Congo’s money abroad to come home and for that money, and more, to be invested in the DRC,” said Martin Kobler, the head of the UN mission in the DRC.
Kobler told the Security Council that the country now had a stable currency and had brought inflation under control, but that more than 70% of its people remained among the world’s poorest.
“It is time to move from a war economy to a peace economy. It is time to see illegal exploitation turned into legitimate trade. It is time to move from excessive wealth for a few, to sufficiency for all.”
The special envoy for the Great Lakes region, Said Djinnit, told the council that a “substantial portfolio” of investment projects are to be approved at a regional meeting in Luanda in early December.
That meeting is to pave the way to a private sector investment forum to be held next year “to signal a new era in the Great Lakes region towards shared stability and prosperity,” said Djinnit.
The DRC’s economy is expected to grow at least 8.5 percent next year, driven mostly by mining.
Optimism about the vast country’s economic prospects, however, were hampered by renewed warnings to rebel groups in the east to surrender or face a military onslaught.
Djinnit told the 15-member council that more progress was needed to ensure the “complete neutralisation of negative forces operating in the eastern DRC.”
The 20,000-strong UN mission in the DR Congo has warned it will take military action against Hutu rebels known as the FDLR unless they lay down their weapons before January 2.
The UN force is also taking action against rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces and National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU), who staged an attack this month in the town of Beni that left 26 dead.
UN officials see the disarming of rebel groups as crucial after two decades of conflict, which spilled over from the Rwandan genocide and are fuelled by the lucrative trade in minerals.
DR Congo remains a country with one of the world’s most challenging corruption problems, according to Transparency International..