DRC/Zambia: Presidents Félix Tshisekedi and Hakainde Hichilema strengthen their countries’ position in the production of electric batteries

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Kinshasa, May 2nd, 2022 (CPA).- President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo and his Zambian counterpart, Hakainde Hichilema, have decided to consolidate the position of their countries in the production of electric batteries, by signing last Friday at Mulungushi International Conference Center in Lusaka, Zambia, of a collaboration agreement between the DRC and the Republic of Zambia on the joint management of the project to manufacture these batteries. “It is a historic day, a great pride for Africa that this signing ceremony of a great adventure that will begin between our two countries. By being together, the two countries are much stronger and can thus be the masters of their destiny”, declared the Head of State Félix Tshisekedi. For the Head of State Félix Tshisekedi, the date of April 29, 2022 is « a precursory day for the continuation of the economic life of our continent », but above all « an example for all the countries of Africa ».

In the perspective of the Continental Free Trade Area, he said, « by putting together the energies, the intelligences and their capacities, I have no doubt that Africa will really be the continent of tomorrow, because of the considerable advance we have over the world: the youth that must be supervised, promoted to become the spearhead of the continent ». All the speeches that have been made to this effect, in particular those of the Chancellor of the University of Zambia, the President of Manufacturing Industries, the Governor of the Central Bank of Zambia, the Representative of Afriximbank for Southern Africa, the representative of Uneca, on the Zambian side, and the Minister of Industry Julien Paluku, on the DRC side, hailed the pioneering role of the Congolese and Zambian Heads of State in the pooling of legal aspects, for the exploitation of ores.

The Zambian President in turn hailed this pooling of forces which bodes well for the creation of job wealth and the pragmatism of the Congolese Minister of Industry, Julien Paluku Kahongya The Minister in charge of Industry, Julien Paluku Kahongya and his colleague from Zambia affixed their signatures to this document with the Ministers in charge of Mines and Finance of these two countries before Presidents Félix Tshisekedi and Hakainde Hichilema. Indeed, the DRC and Zambia concentrate nearly 80% of the world’s reserves of lithium, a mineral that is used in the manufacture of electric batteries.

An agreement for the establishment of a Battery Council

Head of State Félix Tshisekedi and his Zambian counterpart Hakainde Hichilema have set up a framework called the Battery Council of the Republic of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC-Zambia Battery Council). “Our two sister States agree to set up a common governance framework, called the Battery Council of the Republic of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC-Zambia Battery Council), whose Executive Committee will be composed of the two Heads of State, the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), as well as the President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim Bank) », reports the final communiqué sanctioning the end of this meeting. This governance body, adds the press release, will have a Technical Committee in charge of monitoring and evaluating the initiative.

A harmonized legislative and regulatory framework will also be created, as well as a system of incentives common to the two States, for a business environment conducive to the development of the said value chain and a flourishing economic microcosm. According to the same statement, the government of the DRC and Zambia affirmed that the Initiative will be mutually beneficial by creating a unified and coherent partnership that maximizes gains without any competition between their two countries, before indicating that they will put available for this project, sites located respectively in the province of Haut-Katanga Katanga and in the province of Copperbelt.

The two Presidents also welcomed the commitment of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), technical partner as well as that of the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim Bank), financial partners who support this initiative, in particular for the mobilization of the financing required for its implementation. They also invited other partners interested in this transformative initiative for the economic development of their respective countries. This agreement, it is recalled, follows the DRC-Africa Business Forum held from November 24th to 25th, 2021 in Kinshasa in November 2021 under the theme: « developing a value chain and a market around the battery industry, Electric Vehicles and Renewable Energy in Africa”.

 The two Heads of State had during this forum agreed to work together to materialize this initiative as soon as possible and to identify opportunities and facilitate investments to increase Africa’s share in the value chain of batteries, electric vehicles and renewable energies. The two Presidents had therefore agreed to launch a joint Zambia-DRC battery precursor initiative, whose vision is to create a competitive value chain for electric vehicle batteries aimed at sustainable development and inclusive growth, through the production battery precursors. President Hichilema had, on this occasion, stressed the need for Zambia to strengthen cooperation with the Democratic Republic of Congo for mutual benefit. The Republic of Zambia and the DRC share strong historical bilateral ties, a common border and cooperate actively in the social, political and economic fields, within the framework of the Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation. ACP/