UAE could be at the forefront of our country's 'great modernisation' - DRC President

Economists estimate the Central African country has $24trln of untapped resources

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum receives President of the Democratic Republic of Congo at Expo 2020 Dubai site. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum receives President of the Democratic Republic of Congo at Expo 2020 Dubai site. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle.

The UAE could be at the forefront of emerging countries supporting the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as the Central African state’s leaders attempt to kickstart development.

President Félix Tshisekedi called for assistance in development of the DRC, which some economists believe has $24 trillion of untapped resources.

“The Democratic Republic of Congo would ask the emerging countries, especially the UAE, to associate with this great modernisation to one of the most important countries of the African continent, and to help this huge reconstruction,” he told GBF Africa at Dubai Exhibition Centre, Expo 2020 Dubai.

“My country would like to learn from the lesson of the UAE in order to have the appropriate capacities into the PPPs.

“With the UAE at the forefront of all the countries to support us in our new development, we will be more than happy to reinforce our ties to the infrastructure, energy and development of human resources, to the SMEs, and agriculture and new technology and communication.” 

President Tshisekedi highlighted the growth potential of the DRC, which has 80 million citizens, 54 percent of whom are aged 20 years and under, has an area of 2.345 trillion sq.m., with the largest forest reserves outside of the Amazon. 

The forum heard that the country is estimated to have 70 percent of global coltan – a key raw material in smartphones and laptops -  a third of the world’s cobalt, 30 percent of the world’s supply of diamonds and 10 percent of copper, but is in need of infrastructure investment.

The president’s election in 2019 is considered by the United Nations to be the country’s first peaceful transfer of power.

In the years to come, the country’s health, economic development, food security will be impacted by climate change, even though the African continent is responsible for only 2-3 percent of global carbon emissions, the forum heard. Africa also currently only receives one percent of global foreign direct investment, compared to 20 percent for Asia, the president said.  

Speaking in the same session, Unleashing Africa’s Power, Reem Al Hashimy, the UAE’s Minister of State for International Cooperation, Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai, said intra-African trade was expected to grow to 50 percent over the next two decades, from its current 12 percent, which she said meant more purchasing power for citizens, with digitisation an ‘active sector’ that the UAE was considering of investing in.

“We look at it with much promise and a serious level of investment, and infrastructure is going to be key,” she said.

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Seban Scaria)

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