The potentials of Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in human and natural resources can drive Africa’s economic growth, the African Development Bank President, Adewunmi Adesina, said on Saturday.
Mr Adesina said this while addressing Nigerian private sector operators and investors in Abuja during a breakfast meeting with the DRC President, Felix Tshisekedi, on his visit to Nigeria.
“DRC, just like Nigeria, is blessed by God with every single thing. It has a lot of natural resources, 81 million people and 80 million hectares of arable land for agriculture. They need massive investors in agriculture.
“Nigeria has a lot of natural resources and almost 200 million people. Between Nigeria and DRC is the largest population in Africa and limitless opportunities for investment,” Mr Adesina said.
He said the DRC accounts for over 50 per cent of the global supply of cobalt (the raw material used for the manufacturing of phones and other gadget).
He said studies showed that natural resources in DRC are worth about $24 trillion.
Also, in the energy sector, the ADB President said the DRC has a massive hydropower project located at Inga, with a potential electricity generation capacity of over 100,000 megawatts.
Despite the huge resources, the country remains poor. Mr Adesina said ADB believes that that such potential in mineral resources must be turned into reality and wealth, by marketing them to prospective investors.
“With the aspiration of the ADB to light up Africa, if the DRC is supported to unlock the potentials of Inga hydropower project, Africa will have the energy it requires to drive its industrialization. DCR is the country with the massive potential to grow Africa’s industrialization.
“With the Africa Continental Trade Agreement and the continent’s potential market of $3.3 trillion, if the huge potentials of Nigeria and DRC are unlocked, Africa will be able to develop and be able to resolve all her economic problems.”
He said everything possible must be done by Nigeria to work with the DRC president to mobilise and exploit those resources for Africa’s development.
Mr Adesina emphasized the need for the Nigerian government to build an effective investment bridge with DRC to reap benefits from the huge economic potentials in the country.
“When Nigeria unlocks DRC’s huge potentials, in addition to Nigeria’s potentials, Africa will be able to develop with pride,” he said.
To achieve that objective, he said, Nigeria must take immediate action and take advantage of opportunities wherever they are.
There must be a carefully planned investment forum between the DRC and Nigeria to move the discussions forward. The discussions must be structured around finance for the critical sectors, like energy, agriculture, mining and infrastructure. There are also opportunities on the DRC side, he said.
In his introductory remarks, the Chief Executive, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Segun Awolowo, said for Africa to grow, the people must not continue to rely on their traditional allies.
DRC, he noted, has its biggest export trade partners as China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while its biggest import trade partners are China, South Africa and Belgium.
He said African countries must begin to develop new alliances, as the challenge remains how they can partner, cooperate and trade among themselves.
According to him, all the resources Africa needs to grow is already in the continent. He said the meeting was convened to enable the Nigerian organised private sector and investors seek collaboration with the DRC on how to partner and do business together.
“The Signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement means African countries need to trade more among themselves. The meeting is to begin the process to change the narrative to Nigeria and other African countries.
He said the DRC and Nigeria have a lot in common. He said the DRC’s main imports and exports namely machinery, vehicles, pharmaceutical products, copper and other precious stones are required in Nigeria.
He said with Nigeria strong in crude oil and steel, there is a strong room for collaboration between the two countries.
Mr Adesina said the ADB has so far invested over $6.1 billion in the development of infrastructure need to drive economic growth. He said between 2013 and 2019, about $1.4 billion was spent on such initiatives.
Part of such initiative is the plan to develop a $550 million bridge linking DRC with Congo Brazzaville for the first time since 1973, apart from plans to invest in energy, infrastructure.
The President of DRC, Félix Tshisekedi, said his government has created an enabling environment for business to thrive and grow.
The president said new legal frameworks are being put in place in DRC to promote new investments considering that investment finance always goes to where it is made comfortable.
“We have a responsibility to add value to promote sustainable economic and social growth in our economy,” he said.
The Chairman of Jaiz Bank and Chairman of African Business Roundtable Finance committee, Umaru Mutallab, who spoke on behalf of the other participants at the meeting, said the huge potentials in DRC calls for closer collaboration between the country and Nigeria to identify the opportunities.