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World Bank: $6.9 Billion Needed for DRC Reconstruction

The World Bank and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo opened a donor conference in Kinshasa Thursday calling on the international community to build on progress made in restoring peace by providing nearly $7 billion for the country over the next three to four years.

Hoping to build on progress made from years of peace talks, an end to some of the fighting and signs of economic growth, the Congo's government and the World Bank have called on the international community to step in and help rebuild the country.

Congo's five-year war has killed three million people, mostly from hunger and disease. The conflict has left the country's infrastructure in tatters. Meanwhile, the average daily income of a Congolese citizen has dropped to 29 cents a day, just over a quarter what it was 40 years ago.

At a two-day conference in the capital Kinshasa, donors are being asked to sign up for a $6.9 billion reconstruction program, intended to re-establish leadership, kickstart the economy and put an end to pervasive poverty.

The World Bank says the money the government is asking for amounts to just $21 per person a year -- a figure, they say, is low in comparison to funds made available in other countries, such as Kosovo and Iraq, where donors have provided between $240 to $500 dollars per person.

Congo President Joseph Kabila says now that the process of rebuilding has begun, it is up to the international community to deliver on its promise of funds for projects.

Despite the pleas for funding, diplomats and analysts warn that deep divisions remain between the various factions and little progress has been made in setting up a unified army or passing necessary laws ahead of elections, due in June next year. They say these issues are likely to cause some donors to balk at providing cash for the country's future.