> The Atlantic has recently carried a 10 page article, including ~2 and
> 1/2 pages of photos, with the title of "The Next Empires?" It was
> written by Howard French. The article is about China's investment
> activities in Afraica.
> I think Mr. French is trying hard to disparage China.
> About twenty percent of the article was devoted to a multibillion
> dollar agreement between DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and
> China according to which Chinese companies would build infrastructures
> and invest in mining operations in exchanges for DRC's copper and
> cobalt. According to DRC minister of infrastructure, Pierre Lumbi, the
> agreement was the "foundation on “the foundation on which the growth
> of our economy is going to be built.”
> To be sure, no deal is perfect. The bigger the package agreement, the
> more faults can be found. I will not blame anyone for criticizing the
> agreement. Mr. French, however, did not criticze anything specific.
> Instead, he compared the multi-billion agree with some fly-by-night
> deals between individual Chinese mine operaters and local officials
> and he insinuated that the agreement was signed in secret between
> China and a Mr Katumba Mwanke. Since Mr. Mwanke was not a government
> official, the agreement was for Joseph Kabila and Chinese interest
> "Beijing’s giant construction package, of course, is on an entirely
> different scale than the fly-by-night mine operations that have come
> and gone in Lubumbashi. But the conditions under which the deal was
> signed were in many ways similar to those under which many Chinese
> fortune seekers had obtained their permits. Negotiations, conducted in
> secret, were entrusted to one of President Joseph Kabila’s close
> personal confidants, a man without a government portfolio. Since then,
> questions about whose interests are being served by the deal—those of
> everyday Congolese, or merely those of Kabila’s cronies—have
> Is he right? Was the deal signed in secret and then imposed onto the
> people of the DRC without their inputs?
> The answer is NO. The agreement had been hotly debated in DRC's
> parliament according to the following.
> "Contract Congolese sino
> Posted on Saturday 10 May 2008 - 16:25
> The plenary one of the National Assembly of Friday was devoted to the
> debate around the contract which binds the Democratic republic of
> Congo to China.
> Previously, the Minister for Labour public and infrastructures, Pierre
> Lumbi, had to explain them holding and outcomes of this contract.
> According to him, this contract is a vast program of national
> rebuilding for the DRC. It relates to the financing of work of basic
> infrastructures to realize by Chinese companies. Pierre Lumbi
> specified that this financing will be supported by the incomes
> generated by the exploitation of the concession minings in partnership
> with Gécamines. The joint-venture concretized between the two parts is
> contingent on a structure of the capital estimated at 68%% for the
> Chinese grouping against 32%% for Gécamines. The authorized capital is
> of 100 million dollars. The potential of the layers rises to 10,62
> million tons of copper and 620 thousand tons of cobalt. According to
> the public Minister for Labour, one of the basic principles of this
> contract is gaining it gaining.
> Following the talk of the representative of the government which was
> assisted of his/her colleagues of Finances, Budget and the Mines, the
> deputies of the AMP (Alliance of the Presidential majority) supported
> this program estimating that this one will leave the DRC misery.
> “There does not exist perfect contract”, indicated Evariste Boshab of
> the PPRD supported by several others of his colleagues of the AMP.
> On the other hand, the members of the opposition, with at their head
> those of the ONE (Union for the Nation), said to reject the contract
> Congolese sino such as it is, supporting that it is about a “leonine
> and locked” contract, which does not take account of the interests of
> the country. Among the defenders of this thesis François Muamba and
> Delly Sesanga appeared, in particular, all the MLC."
> Mr. French's another trick was questioning the details of the
> agreement. In his words,
> "There was also the nettlesome question of where the new roads would
> actually go. Many of the package’s details have not been released
> publicly. Word on the street has it that the first, 275-mile section
> in the long, arching route chosen for the gigantic highway project
> will lead from Lubumbashi to Pweto, a one-gas-station town of 20,000
> people on Lake Mweru that has no industry and few natural resources.
> Pweto is the hometown of Augustin Katumba Mwanke, the man who
> negotiated the deal, and he has reportedly built a palatial residence
> there; with the highway in place, he’ll be able to get to it from
> Lubumbashi in a few hours rather than the two days or more required
> From the above, one get the impression that the details of the news
> were not known. And the only known detail was that some kind of a
> private road was built between Katumba Mwanke and his hometwon. This
> piece of datum certainly reinforces the impression that the multi-
> billion dollar deal was secret and illegitimate. Again, the accusation
> is groundless.
> For example, quite a lot of details was public information readily
> available to anyone with an internet connection.
> The following webpage is in English.
> And it includes such details:
> * 3,215 kilometres of railways linking the Province of Katanga with
> Province of Bas-Congo, passing through the Provinces of Kasai-
> Kasai-Occidental, Bandundu, and Kinshasa (upgrading, modernisation,
> * 3,400 kilometres of asphalted roads linking the Province of Katanga
> with the
> eastern Province (Kisangani), passing through South Kivu and North
> It is also appropriate to mention the 135 kilometres of roads which
> will be
> restored between Matadi and Boma, and the other 135 kilometres
> Mbuji-Mayi and Mwene Ditu.
> * 2,738 kilometres of beaten earth roads linking the following
> - Kananga-Mbuji Mayi-Kabinda – Kasongo-Kindu
> - Kolwezi-Kasaji-Dilolo
> - Dilolo-Sandoa-Kapanga-Kananga
> - Kasaji-Sandoa
> - Boma-Moanda-Yema
> - NiaNia-Isiro
> * 550 kilometres of urban roadways, 250 km of these in Kinshasa and
> 300 km in
> the main locations in the Provinces, by way of 30 km per main
> (Mbandaka, Bandundu, Kisangani, Kananga, Mbuji-Mayi, Lubumbashi,
> Matadi, Goma, Bukavu, and Kindu).
> Again, given that the large scale of the agreement, nothing would have
> provided enough
> details unless it is a thousand page tome. Nevertheless it is
> ridiculous for Mr. French to
> pretend that no one knew where the new road would go.
> As for the road between Kulumbashi and Pweto, let us read the
> following webblog written
> by a blogger with the name of Biggles:
> "I worked in the DRC for a while and the border crossing from Zambia
> to DRC close to Lubumbashi... the name escapes me at the moment, is
> horrendous. I did this crossing with the help of permanent company
> agents that try get urgent trucks to jump the several day que at the
> crossing so it was fairly smooth for me.
> Do your homework or maybe try another border crossing.
> some tips, plan trip for dry season, focus more on tough suspension
> than flex... your vehicle is going to take a beating... sat phone is a
> must... and enjoy yourself. I always wanted to do that trip while i
> worked in DRC but never got around to it.
> If you have a vehicle in DRC you are home free. The situation has
> really calmed down there and driving in the bush is a pleasure. From
> Lubumbashi there is the road to Kilwa that is being fixed up and
> should be a reasonable surface (dirt pot, pot holed compared to the
> impassable in rainy season route it is now) by the end of next dry
> season. From kilwa you can drive to Pweto witch is a less than
> fantastic road but being fixed up at the moment by some NGOs. Good
> news is all the bridges are working and the pontoon at Pweto is in
> good nick. From Pweto you can nip back into Zambia. North of Pweto is
> still dodgy. If you are really lucky you could maybe get a lift on the
> Barge operated by Anvil Mining from Kilwa to nchelenge on the Zambian
> side of Lac Mweru/Moero.
> Then once you have a vehicle there you can drive by good roads to
> Kenya, Tanzania, Milawi...
> If you are really adventourous I can try and dig up my GPS tracks for
> my exploration roads... prepare to get stuck... I am not a good road
> Good luck and enjoy.
> P.S. DRC has a grand total of 100km of tared road in total... or
> something like that... "
> What do we get from the above?
> 1. Border crossing between Lubumbashi and Zambia was not easy. The
> only crossing was
> horrendous with a several day queue according to Biggle.
> 2. The road between Lubumbashi and Pweto was partially maintained by
> some NGOs before the
> sino-DRC agreement.
> 3. One could readily travel from Pweto to Zambia and then to Kenya,
> Tanzania, Milawi...
> Mr.Frech could be right in describing Pweto as a one gas station town
> with no natural sources.
> However, he chose the ignore location of Pweto and hence its
> significance as a convenient way
> station between the DRC and Zambia.
> I will not be surprised if someone on CNN is making mistakes because
> he or she does not have
> time to know the subject matter. But this is not one of such case. The
> Atlantic is a monthly and it
> is supposed to provide in depth analysis.