DRC agrees to IMF deal but players worry over looming purge of sector


Democratic Republic of Congo’s decision this week to launch a programme meant to clean the lucrative mining sector is causing jitters among players who may have benefited from skewed contracts.

The programme to purge the sector, Congo’s biggest source of revenue, is a result of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in July. Under this arrangement, the IMF committed to a three-year credit to the tune of $1.5 billion.

But it came with conditions, one of which was to enhance the fight against graft as well as clean up messy or lopsided mining agreements granted to foreign firms.

The arrangement is such that the DRC must revise old agreements for mining as well as set up policies that will prevent future deals from being one-sided. One such contract has stepped on the toes of Chinese investors who signed a contract in 2008 to extract minerals in Lualaba Province.

Jean-Jacques Kayembe, the national coordinator of the EITI (the Initiative for the transparency of the extractive industry formed actually in 2009), said his work began with examination of the contract signed by Sicomines whose headquarters are based in Lualaba.

This week, Kayembe promised “a final report and a public debate” once his teams have finished investigating Sicomines. But that decision alone could rope in many unknown players in the past regime.

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