Minerals & oil

Over the past few years, reporting for the Congo has changed focus a bit. Reuters was bought up by Thomson (a publishing and financial research company) in early 2008, and began to focus more on financial news. A bit before that, Bloomberg agency set up shop in Kinshasa, with its traditional focus on business and the economy. (The other foreign correspondents in Kin are from BBC, AFP, Xinhua and AP, I believe, although some are stringers and some are staff).

All this to say that we’ve been getting good coverage of financial news in the Congo. Take the past few days, for example:

  • An oil conference is underway in Kinshasa, and the Congolese announced that they will be opening Lake Kivu (natural gas) and Lake Tanganyika (oil) for prospection.
  • Simultaneously, the Angolan government announced that they want to extend their territorial waters from 200 to 350 kilometers, further encroaching on Congolese waters.
  • Then the Congo released the first of three reports commissioned to audit revenue transparency in mining and oil. The report is for 2007, and was released under the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). In 2007, 25 companies paid $405 million in taxes to the government, but there were discrepancies on the order of $75 million – but sometimes the government reported more, sometimes less than the companies said. The Planning Minister Olivier Kamitatu is in charge of the initiative, as well as the plan to lift the Congo by 20 places in the World Bank index of doing business.
  • And the IMF confirmed that the Congo was on track to get $10 billion in debt relief by June 2010.

Not bad for a few days.