The Kenya DRC Trade Mission 2021 was officially opened on Friday by the Vice Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who is also Environment Minister SE Eve Bazaiba.
The 15-day business networking initiative is being organized by the governments of Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in collaboration with colleagues from the Equity Group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to explore opportunities that have the potential to be commercial, tourism and business Develop investment opportunities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region.
The trade mission, which brings together Kenyan and DR Congo investors and entrepreneurs, will be held in four of the largest cities in the DRC, i.e. Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Goma and Mbuji Mayi.
SMEs have the opportunity to explore opportunities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through business forums and panel discussions moderated by experts from different fields, site visits to different companies and places of interest, networking sessions and trade shows that allow companies to sell their products and present services.
During the official opening ceremony, the Vice Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, HE Eve Bazaiba, expressed her joy that two sovereign states from the region of East and Central Africa are committed to the growth and integration of Africa through trade and investment.
âI am pleased to see that what began as a discussion between the President of the DRC, HE President FÃ©lix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, and the Kenyan President, HE Uhuru Kenyatta, in order to strengthen relations between our two countries through trade and investment , officially begins with this trade mission. This mission has caught the interest of the business community and the turnout here in Kinshasa is a clear sign that the DRC is ready and open to grow its economy through collaboration with the private and public sectors. As a country, we hope to use the existing infrastructure, including trade corridors, to create regional supply chains in the form of human know-how, raw materials, and processed and packaged goods. “
The trade mission comes at a time when the Democratic Republic of the Congo has received approval from the EAC Council of Ministers to join the trade bloc, a move designed to open the country and region to fair competition and trade.
At the opening ceremony, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Trade, Industrialization and Business Development Hon. Betty Maina said, âAs the Government of Kenya, we encourage Kenyan SMEs to view the DRC as a market for regional expansion. Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo already have trade links and this trade mission will further improve the referencing of local Kenyan entrepreneurs to local DRC businesses. We urge our entrepreneurs to stay open, join us in the discussions and, above all, explore growth opportunities in the areas of agriculture, education, health, sport, the environment, SMEs, housing, energy and infrastructure development. “
The trade mission follows the bilateral agreements between Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to improve trade and the movement of people and goods, which were signed by HE President Uhuru Kenyatta and HE President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the beginning of April 2021.
At the opening ceremony, Foreign Trade Minister Jean Lucien Bussa also said: âThe DRK is pleased about the cooperation with Kenya and our local SMEs have the opportunity to establish market relationships with Kenyan companies. The Democratic Republic of the Congo imports well over $ 2 billion in basic goods and this is a clear sign that Kenyan investors can tap into this space. In addition to minerals, we have a lively agriculture and, among other things, are also very active in the cosmetics, textile and service industries. This is an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to meet with other companies like yours in Kenya. “
The Equity Group played a key role in planning and executing the trade mission, using its manpower and infrastructure to support entrepreneurs from both countries.
Dr. James Mwangi, Managing Director and CEO of Equity Group, said: âWorking with the governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya, we have successfully brought together over 253 investors, entrepreneurs and business representatives who come together here today to witness a historic day when Kenyans and Congolese are intentionally working together to expand business and investment opportunities. Our commitment as a group is to complement government efforts by providing solutions that enable businesses to grow and invest, ranging from financing, savings and money transfer solutions through Equity Bank Kenya and EquityBCDC. We have Ksh 500 billion available to assist and assist the private sector and business community to grow and expand their businesses in the area. During the entire Trade Mission period, we will have our team of experts at Equity with us to accompany the business trip with the entrepreneurs and offer advisory services and solutions that accelerate business start-up and growth. “
Speaking at the event, Celestin Muntuabu, Managing Director of Equity BCDC, said, âThe economic and social challenges in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are an opportunity for entrepreneurs to innovate and respond to by offering products and services. This trade mission will play a critical role in opening trade opportunities and demonstrating the DRC’s potential as the next frontrunner. “
The opening ceremony brought together key policy makers and the private sector, including senior government officials from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya, the Equity Board of Directors, development partners and other partners such as various Chamber of Commerce country leaders, business and professional associations, an indication that public- Private partnerships play a key role in promoting regional trade, integration and investment.
Kenyan Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Amb. George Masafu said: âWe welcome you all to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a land of opportunity and growth. As the Kenyan embassy, ââwe encourage you to explore the Democratic Republic of the Congo and identify growth and investment opportunities. We are ready and open to support Kenyan companies wishing to trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and encourage companies from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to explore opportunities in Kenya as well. In order to further support this integration, the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya has already opened diplomatic missions in Lubumbashi and Goma and we are interested in expanding our advisory and support services in matters of visa processing. We appreciate the Equity Group and other partners for the work that has gone into planning and executing the trade mission and can’t wait to see what activities are planned for the entire 15 day period. “
As part of efforts to ensure a smooth entry into the DRC, the 253 Kenyan delegates who landed on a charter flight on Monday were booked into various hotels in Kinshasa and received exceptional visas, airport clearance and COVID-19 tests to ensure a warm stay in of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The trade mission in Kinshasa lasted a total of 4 days and the delegation is expected to move to Lubumbashi, the third largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for another 4 days before moving to Goma and later to Mbuji Mayi.
The mission is expected to open up opportunities for local entrepreneurs in the service, manufacturing, mining and agriculture industries, among others.