The Chinese Council for the Promotion of the South-South Cooperation has launched a new wave to explore the French-speaking western African markets in Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire and Congo (Brazzaville) by leading a 30-odd member delegation of entrepreneurs to visit the countries.
Addressing the conference on investment and trade between China and Congo (Brazzaville), Annick Patricia Mongo, director general of the Agency for the Promotion of Investment in Congo, said that she hoped Congo could be the country of priority for Chinese entrepreneurs to invest in central Africa.
That hope is based on several reasons, she said. First, Congo has set up the Sino-Congolese Bank for Africa (BSCA), a joint venture between the Congolese government and the Agriculture Bank of China; Congo is a portal country to the Western African market, with a deep-water port on the west coast along the Atlantic Ocean; the political situation in Congo is quite stable; the government of Congo approved to promote investment in the country in 2015 and the Agency for the Promotion of Investment in Congo will provide detailed information on investment and opportunities to enter the country.
“We hope the Congolese enterprises and Chinese enterprises will form a sound cooperation partnership,” she said.
In his speech at the conference, Lyu Xinhua, president of the council, said that the Chinese Council for the Promotion of the South-South Cooperation is willing to provide a platform for the Congolese and Chinese enterprises to exchange information and form partnership.
“We are glad that the council today meets with the Chinese entrepreneurs to discuss with Congolese counterparts on investment and business partnership,” he said, “Congo is the third leg but the most important destination of the visit.”
He said the reasons to choose Congo for the visit are that Congo boasts a sound investment environment, the infrastructure construction shows a growing momentum and the Chinese enterprises are willing to be involved in the industrialization process of the country.
China is the top trade partner and the largest engineering project contractor of Congo. The Special Economic Zone under construction in Pointe Noire is the flagship project of Chinese-Congolese cooperation, Lyu said.
The delegation consists of entrepreneurs in the sectors of finance, machine-building, energy, agriculture, textile, security, culture and education.
Zhou Fuming, director general of Suzhou Mike Textile, who has set up a textile and dyeing company in Ethiopia, said that he learned more about Western Africa, the population, the resource and demand so that he would be able to bring Chinese resources to Africa and the Africans’ to China.
He said the visit was quite fruitful thanks to the enthusiasm for cooperation in the western African countries he has visited.
“In Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire, I have reached consensus with the entrepreneurs who have the intent to cooperate with me in textile production and products,” he said.
Lyu also eased local worries about the pollution that comes along with industrialization.
“Some media claim that the Chinese investment would cause pollution in the host country,” he said. “It was true during the first 30 years of China’s opening-up while China was attracting foreign investment, pollution was an issue,” he said.
“However, in recent years, the Chinese government no longer tolerates the existence of polluting enterprises,” he said. “And we will not allow the overseas projects invested in by Chinese investors to cause pollution.”
Besides, the Congolese government can adopt the most strict standards on pollution for the Chinese companies and the Chinese investors will consciously follow the rules and regulations set by the Congolese government, he said.
Sun Xinwei, deputy general manager of China State Construction Engineering Corp Central and Western African Region, advised that Chinese companies engaging in any large infrastructure projects in Congo should be aware of expenses for the period after the project is completed and before the official operation, as the Congolese government is suffering from an economic downturn due to oil price drop from 2014, which results in delayed payment.
A local businesswoman talks to a member of the delegation with the help of the interpreter at the conference on investment and trade between China and Congo (Brazzaville).