PARTNER ATLAS

DR CONGO

as a partner for securing essential natural resources and protecting the climate

01 — The key questions for the Partner-Atlas

RELEVANCE: What relevance does DR Congo have for Germany in terms of safeguarding global resources and protecting the climate?

The African continent is enormously important to our ability to achieve global climate targets under the Paris Climate Agreement for a number of reasons.

Although Africa is responsible for only four percent of global CO2 emissions, the continent is currently home to about 1.3 billion people. By 2050, the population is likely to double, accounting for a quarter of the world’s population. Efforts to limit global warming will therefore succeed only if low-emission technologies are also used in Africa in future to assist with the economic development of its rapidly growing population.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has various resources that play, or will play, a major part in limiting global warming, in addition to helping with the global energy and mobility transition. The world’s second largest area of rainforest – about 100 million hectares – is located in DR Congo. Tropical ecosystems such as the Congolese rainforest are capable of storing CO2, and thus play an important part in global climate protection and in limiting global warming. At a micro level, forest areas can also reduce the occurrence of extreme weather events such as heat or intense rain.

Metals such as cobalt and coltan play a crucial role in the global energy and mobility transition. The world’s largest reserves of coltan are found in DR Congo. In addition, the country is the source of about 60 percent of the cobalt used globally. This is needed for the manufacture of electric vehicles and energy storage systems in particular, which means demand for cobalt will increase dramatically in the coming years.

Experts believe the hydropower potential offered by the Congo River could be used to generate low-emission electricity for almost the entire African continent. This potential could simultaneously be used for the emission-neutral production of green hydrogen at a globally competitive price.

WILLINGNESS: To what extent is DR Congo willing to work with Germany in realising this interest?

Since the government of President Félix Tshisekedi took office in 2019, the country’s readiness to work with Germany has improved substantially, and regular bilateral governmental negotiations have resumed. At COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021, President Tshisekedi also confirmed that protecting the Congolese rainforest was a political priority.

DR Congo is aware of its prominent position in terms of global climate and environmental protection, but is assertively linking the fulfilment of this key role to sweeping demands. Thus, as part of its national strategy to achieve Paris climate targets, it is committing to reducing its carbon emissions by 21 percent, but only on condition that $47 billion in external financing is made available for the purpose.

If Germany succeeds in assisting DR Congo to build up a low-emission infrastructure and electrify the country, and also supports programmes to adapt to climate change, the readiness of the country to make a contribution toward safeguarding global resources and international climate protection can be assessed as high.

STATUS QUO: How close is Germany and DR Congo’s current cooperation in this area?

The core issues for German development cooperation with DR Congo are the environment, natural resources, biodiversity and sustainable forest management. The country is also involved in regional projects for the generation of clean, affordable and reliable electricity. The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe, BGR) has a presence in DR Congo, alongside the Society for International Cooperation (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ) and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), and supports the resource-friendly extraction of minerals and metals and the improvement of socio-economic conditions for communities dependent on mining. The German private sector has a strong interest in the adherence to environmental and social standards and good corporate governance in connection with raw material extraction.

We must also welcome the fact that Germany recognises the importance of the Congo Basin to global climate protection, and currently chairs the international Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) and the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP). Germany is also an important partner to the Central African Forest Commission (Commission des Forêts d’Afrique Centrale, COMIFAC).

One long-standing difficulty in weakly institutionalised contexts such as DR Congo, however, is the discrepancy between legislation and implementation. Taking the partnership to a deeper level will therefore also depend on the extent to which the Congolese government displays a convincing will to undertake political reforms.

POTENTIAL: What is the potential for strengthening the partnership between Germany and DR Congo in this area?

DR Congo offers huge and previously untapped potential to generate low-emission power and electricity. During his presidency of the African Union (AU), President Tshisekedi also put this on the political agenda. The expansion of the Inga Dam in DR Congo, for example, is listed among the ten most important projects in the African Union’s “Agenda 2063”. DR Congo could take access to sustainable energy for the region a crucial step further and remedy the existing energy shortage. At the same time, the geopolitical repercussions of the global energy and mobility transition will give the country (even) greater importance.

There is, however, also a huge discrepancy between the country’s potential and the projects actually put into practice, since access to the Congolese market is extremely difficult: The country regularly ranks near the bottom in global surveys on the economic climate, transparency and corruption. Military conflicts in eastern Congo, political volatility and the lack of infrastructure remain unresolved socio-economic challenges. There is no denying that the potential of DR Congo must therefore be qualified to a certain degree, since implementation requires far-reaching, substantial governmental reforms. This must be included in any considerations being made in a partnership context. A successful outcome would enable Germany, as a high-tech country, to make a vital contribution to the country’s previously untapped hydroelectric potential and put its very good reputation to good use on the ground.

Given the country’s huge size, however, good coordination with other donor initiatives will be critically important. To develop this difficult market for Germany’s private sector, the establishment of a German Chamber of Commerce Abroad would be a welcome step forward, for example.

POLICY RECOMMENDATION: What in German foreign policy has to change in order to fully exploit this potential?

In order to make the potential offered by DR Congo for international climate protection and the safeguarding of resources for the global energy and mobility transition accessible to Germany, more attention must be paid to the country’s socio-economic starting position than has previously been the case.

Whereas the energy and mobility transition is in progress in Germany, in DR Congo only 19 percent of the population even has access to electricity. When it comes to access to clean, affordable and reliable power, Germany should pay greater attention to the aspect of local value chains, which could enable it to secure an advantage over other competitors, for example in creating training and employment opportunities for the local population in exchange for market access. A technology transfer must be assured in the area of innovative technologies such as hydrogen in particular, in order to prevent dependencies on particular forms of technology. At the same time, technology alone cannot be a guarantee of sustainable development and the efficient and effective handling of natural resources. Both political stability and compliance with underlying legal conditions are the precondition for ensuring sustainable management of DR Congo’s resource wealth. For large-scale projects in particular, such as the Inga Dam, questions of good governance are particularly relevant in order to guarantee that large sectors of the population benefit from infrastructure projects.

Channels for communication with the private sector must also be created in order to simplify access, in the energy sector in particular. Germany must ensure in this regard that financial and professional support is also made available for aspects such as transparency, regulation and liberalisation. This will ensure that these projects are also attractive to the private sector and have the potential to be developed on market economy principles. Ultimately, in order to make a credible case for increased sustainability and climate protection in African countries like DR Congo, Germany, as a high-tech country, must be sure to implement its own climate and emission targets, and keep the financial promises it has made in the context of global climate financing.

Anja Berretta is head of the KAS Regional Programme Energy Security and Climate Change in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Jakob Kerstan heads the KAS office in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

DR CONGO

  • Population: 95.403.294
  • Capital: Kinshasa
  • Interest: Securing Essential Natural Resources and Protecting the Climate
  • Region: Sub-Saharan Africa

02 — Foreign Office

Contact:

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V.
Auslandsbüro Demokratische Republik Kongo
50 Ave Lt. Colonel Lukusa
Gombe-Kinshasa

03 — The region

Sub-Saharan Africa

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CÔTE D IVOIRE

Côte d‘Ivoire is an anchor of political and economic stability in West Africa. Whereas there were three military coups in the neighbouring countries of Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso in an eight-month period beginning in May 2021, the situation in Côte d’Ivoire remained calm. The commodity-rich hub on the Gulf of Guinea has recorded consistently strong economic growth since 2012, regularly exceeding 6 percent, well above the population growth rate, which is also high at about 2.5 percent per annum. Its population grew from 16.5 million in 2000, to 26 million 20 years later.

  • Population: 27.712.600
  • Capital: Yamoussoukro
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DR CONGO

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has various resources that play, or will play, a major part in limiting global warming, in addition to helping with the global energy and mobility transition. The world’s second largest area of rainforest – about 100 million hectares – is located in DR Congo. Tropical ecosystems such as the Congolese rainforest are capable of storing CO2, and thus play an important part in global climate protection and in limiting global warming. At a micro level, forest areas can also reduce the occurrence of extreme weather events such as heat or intense rain.

  • Population: 95.403.294
  • Capital: Kinshasa
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MALAWI

Malawi has shown that it can serve as an example of a functioning democracy in Africa and a partner for Germany in defending a democratic, values-based world order. The country made history in 2020 when the May 2019 elections, which had been overshadowed by irregularities, were successfully disputed by the opposition. New, free and fair elections ordered by the court were held under Covid-19 conditions within 150 days. An alliance of opposition parties, the Tonse Alliance, won the elections with an absolute majority. Since then, new President Lazarus Chakwera has pursued the objective of suppressing widespread corruption and putting the country onto a successful economic footing.

  • Population: 20.150.838
  • Capital: Lilongwe
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CÔTE D IVOIRE

As part of its security policy commitment in West Africa, German foreign policy has focused for many years on Mali and its neighbouring countries, also known as the Sahel Region, whose stability is directly relevant to peace and security in this country on account of its close proximity to Europe. Nevertheless, we need to broaden our geographical horizons, since Jihadism, ethnic conflicts and organised crime are becoming more widespread throughout West Africa. This poses a threat to political and economic stability among the southern neighbours of the Sahel countries in particular, such as Côte d’Ivoire. Côte d’Ivoire is an important partner for Germany in the area of trade and development policy cooperation in West Africa. One area where this finds expression is in the Reform Partnership which Germany has maintained with the country since 2017.

  • Population: 27.712.600
  • Capital: Yamoussoukro
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SOUTH AFRICA

The world needs Africa in order to stop climate change, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasised during the EU-Africa summit in early 2022. South Africa, the continent’s most developed economy, is pursuing ambitious goals in this field, similar to what is being debated in Germany. Examples include the reduction of CO2 emissions and minimizing the enormous dependence on coal. The role that the various players in South African politics who could veto these efforts will play is hard to assess, however.

 

  • Population: 59,308,690
  • Capital: Bloemfontain, Capetown, Pretoria
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KENYA

Kenya is one of the most stable countries in East Africa and has an internationally oriented economy. With consistently strong economic growth in the twelve years before the Covid crisis and a GDP of more than 100 billion US dollars (2020), Kenya has the largest economy in East Africa and is a growth engine for the region. Thanks to the ports of Mombasa and Lamu as well as the airport in Nairobi, the country is an important regional hub for trade,finance and the transport of humanitarian aid in the region. Many international companies and organisations have chosen Kenya as the seat of their (East) Africa branches.

  • Population: 53,771,296
  • Capital: Nairobi
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GHANA

Despite its relatively small population of approximately 28 million inhabitants, Ghana is growing in relevance for Germany. This is evident not least of all from the fact that Ghana has been included in the Compact with Africa project since 2017 and became one of Germany’s reform partner countries in the same year. Ghana’s willingness to accept reforms in the economic and fiscal policy sector, along with its framework, which is relatively stable and reliable compared to many other Sub-Saharan African countries, made Ghana an interesting partner for the G20, and especially for Germany (as a reform partnership).

  • Population: 31,072,940
  • Capital: Accra
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NIGERIA

With a population of around 216 million, Nigeria is not only the most populous country in Africa, but it has also been the continent’s largest economy for some years now. The country is rich in oil and gas and is one of the largest oil exporters in the world. Nonetheless, Nigeria faces immense security and economic problems, which have worsened as a result of the Covid pandemic and could further destabilise the entire region in the medium to long term, posing major challenges for Europe. This applies both to the European interest in supporting the Sahel states in their fight against terrorism and to stopping irregular migration from Africa.

  • Population: 206,139,589
  • Capital: Abuja
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NIGER

The unstable security situation throughout the Sahel region reveals the weakness of state authorities in the region. Niger’s security forces are also struggling to exercise effective control of the country. Several terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State or Boko Haram, regularly attack military bases and also civilians. Niger is also one of the poorest countries in the world with one of the highest rates of population growth (on an average, women have 7 children) and is wrestling with numerous governance problems, including regular accusations of corruption against government representatives or officials. There were several demonstrations against the rampant corruption and bad governance in the past. However, in the 2020/21 elections, Niger for the first time successfully managed the transfer of power from one elected President to another, Mohamed Bazoum. In the past, the country had suffered numerous military coups.

  • Population: 24,206,644
  • Capital: Niamey
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