When reading a map over a table, I always see the whole parts of the map as being flat even the Mitumba Mountains. I do feel that in every part of the map, someone can walk as if you were in a Rusizi plain while climbing Gafinda, Munanira, Kirungwa, Chito… will be the hardest to do in your life. It requires being good in reading maps to understand where it’s easy to construct a road or where it fools the head to have 1 Km realized. At this point, it becomes more practical than ever if you keep your feet on the ground. Ca this justify why the inherited road from colonial era hasn’t yet been maintained/improved for the interest of local population? Probably because responsible have been reading through map and feel that there has been an infrastructure left by Belgian.
Westward from Uvira or the East African countries, Mitumba are that chain of mountains that you will have to inevitably cross to reach my village. For anyone unfamiliar of these areas, they possibly resort to maps in order to see how far and hardest it’s to visit the zone. Locating the area at the map in front of you might underestimate your journey until you face it. Just try to simulate the reasoning of reading a map with the way our legal instruments are drawn and put into action.
The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in DRC looks as unlikely framed in terms of laws and regulations. Though I couldn’t access it, there might be an existence of legal instruments surrounding the FDI that doesn’t work on the ground for several reasons. That is the core part of this short discussion. In this case, the country may be facing a problem of law enforcement as if leaders are simply interpreting the context on the paper. This is a blogger’s viewpoint though it may be shared by many observers. Being roughly unframed does mean that we don’t need to have them running in DRC, especially in Kinshasa. However, there is a need of allowing foreign investors to be established in DRC in a way that benefits local investors. Put it simply that FDI can’t be allowed to asphyxiate local initiatives and traders.
Instead of jumping and brewing into Economics theories regarding the FDI, the article tries to share this slight experience of how things go on Kinshasa as well as in approximately many cities of the country. The reader may be expecting a long story but it’s just in one sentence that can the reader questions the FDI framework in this large country. It is about conceiving ONE TOOTHBRUSH made in China being sold in a shop belonging to an owner looking as a Chinese. Specifically, all around streets in Kinshasa or elsewhere in the countryside where there isn’t even electricity, observer would unlikely disagree with me that a commodity produced in China, India… is sold as a unit by a Lebanese, Indians, Nepalese or Chinese. These Foreigners investing directly in our economy appears as petty traders with large supermarkets, big shops selling detailed commodities until one Toothpick, pen, earphones…
Beyond benefiting until the last amount of a commodity sold, these guys have found solutions to have their businesses run in my country. Where shops spaces are limited, they go through finding out buildings or spaces where owners have fallen short to finish them. By finishing these constructions, from then on they have to benefit from the contract of exploiting these buildings; possibly on low price to the level of detailing the purchase their imported commodities. In a country where the industry scheme is roughly lagging behind, strikingly, informed observers would agree with the blogger that price in these Chinese shops are likely the same with that of their counterpart Congolese. The difference lies in the future use of their benefits or how these businesses are economically counted within the National Accounting. In some cases, my experience tends to confirm that these so-called investors go to importing their labor force. Do you think are these qualified employees that the country lacks? It’s a debatable question but I see some of them doing nothing in terms of adding value where the country lacks expertise.
Am I the right person to ascertain that someone isn’t a Congolese based on her physiognomy? Unfortunately NO because I do advocate the rule of law instead of being emotional in terms of judging how people are nationals or foreigners based on their facial features. Nonetheless, I don’t see a Chinese/Lebanese being granted a citizenship due to her capacity of investing large amount of money in this country. Thus, it may raise skepticism over how Nationality Law is managed. On the other hand, if these guys looking neither as blacks nor as Africans are Congolese citizens, the debate is out of tune. Otherwise, there is a need of reviewing the way foreign investors are managed in DRC in order to complement it to local initiatives.
I can also imagine most of these ladies and gentlemen from Far East being supported by their governments to establish their businesses around the world. Failing to sustainably resolve the matter may add grievances over and over again. Moreover, opening the economy up to that level will inevitably hinder the development of locals. When digging deep into the functioning of these kinds of FDI, someone may also find loopholes in terms of management of local employees working for these investors. Strangely, they might contain frustrations by recalling that they are masters. At any time, when voicing, there is a possibility of facing a layoff. So what to do then?
Though making laws isn’t as easier as anyone can imagine, it needs a decisive step further. That’s, rulers have to check if these investors are complying with what is stated into the laws and regulations. In other words, legislative power won’t simply rely on the fact of having voted a law, they need to check if it’s well understood and well translated into actions. Additionally, the government needs to accelerate mechanisms of supporting local entrepreneurs such as the Special Youth Funds or putting in place attractive environment favoring locals in the first place. It would be through these mechanisms that local industry would grow up as well as expanding to the extent of breaking with the dependence cycle of relying on imports. I hope that rulers won’t interpret the reasoning as a way fueling rejection sentiments towards foreign investors. It’s rather a call for reviewing the enforcement mechanisms and redesign of rules, regulations and laws. Can you try your utmost to cross the Mitumba Mountains and see how hard it is!
NTANYOMA R. Delphin
Secrétaire Exécutif & Coordonnateur
Appui au Développement Intégré &
à la Gouvernance