Nation Media Group board chairman Dr Wilfred Kiboro has challenged East African businesses to conquer their fears about insecurity, language barriers and tedious red tape and invest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to help develop the continent.
He said regional trading blocs such as the East African Community (EAC) are crucial in promoting economic growth by enabling countries to work together to create economies of scale, attract investment and promote trade.
To conquer Africa will require first the EAC to integrate and elevate investments within the bloc, Dr Kiboro added.
He made the remarks in the DRC capital Kinshasa on Thursday, March 30, at the opening of the East African Business and Trade Fair organised by Nation Media Group.
Largest resource portfolio
Pointing out that the DRC has the largest resource portfolio in the world and a population of close to 100 million people, he challenged businesses to avail themselves of the enormous opportunities, pointing out that the Chinese had already ventured where Africans had feared to tread.
“Our job is to decolonise the African mind. It is essential for African countries to look inward for solutions and to work together to address common challenges. This is where regional trading blocs come in,” he said.
“It is with this objective in mind that we, in collaboration with other stakeholders, including the government of DRC, organised this conference — the first East African Business and Trade Fair — which aims to explore investment opportunities in the Democratic Republic of Congo for East African Community member states. It is part of a broader effort to promote regional integration and trade.”
He recognised the DRC’s young and growing population, who offer significant potential for labour, investment and growth in mining, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, telecommunications, tourism and manufacturing.
He noted that the country’s potential for economic development and growth is enormous and, with the right investments, the DRC — and by extension the EAC — will become a major player in the global economy.
“I encourage you to explore the opportunities that exist in the region and to consider the potential benefits of investing in this exciting and rapidly developing market. Nation Media Group believes in sharing ideas, opportunities, and knowledge as one of the critical paths for accelerated progress in Africa and the flat world that we operate in,” Dr Kiboro said.
The DRC Government Spokesman Patrick Muyaya, who delivered the keynote address at the conference, assured investors of the changing investment climate in the country, noting that the time had come for Congo to be defined by other issues rather than violence.
“The war must be considered as one of the challenges to be overcome. We have problems in the east of the country and we have a problem with Rwanda, but we have to coexist and all these shall pass,” Mr Muyaya said.
“We acknowledge the problem and that’s where we will start,” he added.
Kenya’s ambassador to the DRC, Dr George Masafu, also addressed the event and sought to allay fears about the investment environment while acknowledging the bottlenecks that might emerge.
Huge economic bloc
“East Africa is a huge economic bloc raging from the Indian ocean to the Atlantic. Every society must pass through a transition. The DRC has stabilised politically. But we must all participate in creating stability to pave the way for business,” he said.
The Nation Media Group has played a crucial role in telling the African story by shaping the narrative and highlighting Africa’s potential and opportunities.
In the last few years, NMG has embarked on a journey to realise its aspiration of being the Media of Africa for Africa by shaping Africa’s agenda by leveraging its convening power.
In 2019, NMG established Kusi Ideas Festival as a pan-African knowledge-based platform. The festival seeks to build a “pan-African ideas transaction market” to capitalise on opportunities and innovations available to Africa to help her win in the 21st Century.
Other forums are the Nation Leadership Forum, the Digital Summit, the SME Conference and Expo, and the Career Fair which involve the youth.