President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has rallied the Nigerian private sector to take advantage of the huge investment opportunities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to develop Africa.
He expressed the need to build an effective investment bridge with the DRC, “because when you unlock their potentials, you unlock Nigeria’s potentials.”
Speaking during a breakfast meeting with President Félix Tshisekedi of the DRC and members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) led by Chairman of Jaiz Bank, Alhaji Umar Mutallab, over the weekend, on the sidelines of the just concluded 2019 Tony Elumelu Foundation Forum in Abuja, the AfDB president, further assured his prospects that, “if you are going to invest in this country, you are making the right investment.”
He encouraged them to consider investing in the DRC’s mineral resources, whose assets were worth a whopping $24 trillion in a 2009 appraisal.
Specifically, he said Congo’s Inga project, which is a massive hydropower scheme with 100,000 megawatts volts capacity will help solve Africa’s power challenges when completed.
He said:”If we help Congo to unlock the potential of Inga, Africa is lit.”
Adesina said lighting up and powering Africa remained his biggest dream as AFDB president.
He noted that even with the commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the anticipated $3.3 trillion market to be tapped as well as industrialisation of the continent will be constrained without power.
He also said the DRC with about 81 million people and 80 million hectares of arable land is currently in need of massive investors in agriculture and agribusiness as well as investments in oil and gas and mineral resources.
According to him, the economy of the DRC had been underlined by strong macroeconomic indices over time, coupled with the fact that it has “a president who is actually coming from the private sector and who understands what needs to be done to business and regulatory environment” for business to thrive.
On its part, however, he disclosed that the AfDB had been investing in the DRC as far back as 1973.
He said:”We’ve invested $6.1 billion and from 2013 to 2019 alone, we have invested $4.1 billion and we are going to invest more in energy and infrastructure.
“We are going to do a bridge that will link Democratic Republic of Congo with the Republic of Congo, actually, they are quite close to each other and there’s no bridge linking them. And that’s a $550 million investment.”
However, Tshisekedi, who expressed delight at the expression of interest and responses from the Nigerian investment community promised to create an enabling environment for prospective investors in his country.
He said African countries had major roles to play beyond their borders towards the development and interconnectivity of the continent.
He promised better partnerships that would result in a win-win situation for all parties.
Nonetheless, Abdulmutalab had also emphasised the need for an effective investment partnership between both countries
He, however, pointed out that the issue of power remained a major bottleneck to business prospects in the continent and urged the Congolese president to look into it.
He assured that the Nigerian investment community was ready to tap into the enormous potentials in Congo if the challenge of infrastructure was subdued.