Is a New Dawn Arising in the DRC?
Is a New Dawn Arising in the DRC?
The DRC remains one of the most paradoxical nations on earth. It is immensely blessed with natural resources of every kind, yet it remains grindingly poor.
It has faced decades of civil war for many decades which has claimed millions of lives in what has been one of the world’s deadliest conflicts. It sits in a very strategic location at the heart of Africa and if it is at peace, it has the potential to bring peace and prosperity at unprecedented levels to the whole Africa.
We have just witnessed the first peaceful handover of power in its history, as imperfect as it may have been for many observers, I believe it marks the start of a new and prosperous season for the nation and for Africa as a whole.
In this article, I want to examine the nation in some detail to determine what the future really holds for this great nation.
In the Beginning
The beginning of the DRC was very inauspicious, it began as the personal property of King Leopold II who exploited the people and the natural resources greatly after which it was then formally annexed as part of the Belgian State.
It officially became independent in 1960 with Prime Minister Lumumba but his reign was to short lived, it is said that he was caught in the crossfire between the USA, Europe and the Soviet Union however I have a different view, it is my belief that despite independence; coups and insurrections were fomented by malevolent forces behind the scenes to keep the nation divided and thus subservient despite maintaining an appearance of stability and independence.
Afterwards, a new leader arose by the name of Joseph Desire Mobutu who reigned for 32 years as a dictator until he was replaced in a coup by Laurent Desire Kabila who was assassinated and then replaced by his son Joseph Kabila.
The DRC is widely known for its large amount of natural resources which some have estimated at a value of USD$24 trillion, this is likely to take on more significance as we begin to enter the age of the fourth industrial revolution as key resources that it possesses in abundant quantities such as coltan, cobalt and copper will be needed in increasingly larger quantities.
Further to this, the DRC has very large reserves of forest resources, agricultural land (with about 80 million hectares of land with most of it uncultivated) and rivers. These needs to be developed to create active industries in energy production, wood industries, fisheries, agribusiness, tourism, infrastructure and much more to create local jobs and boost the local economy.
These are great opportunities for industrialization but what is even more important is that for the last few years, the government has been quietly reforming the economy with a national strategic development plan 2017-2021 which aim to make the country an emerging market economy within 5 years.
With a population of nearly 83 million people and land borders with another 11 countries, the nation’s internal market remains very attractive and has the potential to make it a regional hub for Central, Eastern and Southern Africa while positively influencing North and West Africa.
We have identified the big five of African countries that needs to work together for a strong Africa, these are Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, DRC and South Africa.
As these nations grow, they can also pull the whole continent forward, this is indeed the promise of a rejuvenated DRC that all of Africa has been waiting for since 1960.
While there remain many bumps in the road for the DRC and indeed all of the African nations, it is becoming clear that a new dawn is indeed rising over Africa and the development of the DRC is a major catalyst towards the full realization of this promise.