News / Africa

Report: DRC Mining Deals Highlight Resource Corruption

Africa Progress Panel head and former UN secretary General Kofi Annan, Februay 15, 2011.Africa Progress Panel head and former UN secretary General Kofi Annan, Februay 15, 2011.
x
Africa Progress Panel head and former UN secretary General Kofi Annan, Februay 15, 2011.
Africa Progress Panel head and former UN secretary General Kofi Annan, Februay 15, 2011.
Nick Long
The Africa Progress Panel, a research organization chaired by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, says most Africans are not getting a fair deal out of their countries’ natural resources.  In its annual report, the panel highlights several mining deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo as examples of how, it said, natural resource wealth has been mismanaged.  

The 10-member Africa Progress Panel includes Kofi Annan, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, a former head of the International Monetary Fund, Michel Camdessus, and the singer and activist Bob Geldof.

The panel's annual report, released Friday, focuses on Africa’s oil, gas and minerals, which it said offer a once-in-a-millennium opportunity to lift people out of poverty.

But not if they are managed the way they have been in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the panel argues.

The report looks in particular at five mining deals since 2010, involving the sale of assets by the DRC state mining company Gecamines.  It estimates the Congolese state lost at least $1.35 billion through these transactions - equivalent to twice its annual spending on health and education combined.

And that is just some of the losses, says the pressure group Global Witness, which has campaigned on this issue for decades.  Daniel Balint-Kurti is one of Global Witness’s Congo researchers.  

"You see that five deals were highlighted, and that is because there were five deals between 2010 and 2012 for which sufficient data exist to do a proper calculation of losses to the Congolese state," said Balint-Kurti.

Last year, British member of parliament Eric Joyce, who was chairing an all-party parliamentary group on Africa's Great Lakes region, claimed the DRC had lost more than $5 billion from mining deals over the previous four years.

Activists within the DRC agree there have been serious problems of governance in the country’s mining sector.  Jean Pierre Okenda works for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an international effort aimed at exposing tax evasion and lost revenue from natural resources.

He said he thought the Africa Progress panel was right to highlight the DRC case, because in his view, it demonstrates not only mismanagement, but also corruption on a grand scale.

DRC government spokesman Lambert Mende told VOA the figures in the panel's report on Congo need to be verified, and put in perspective.   He said the government wants to know about losses to the public treasury, but it does not want unproven claims to be made about the country or about its partners.

The government would like to know more about the methodology used in the report, he added.

Okenda suggests the methodology is simple.  

Take the case, he said, of SMKK, one of the companies sold by the DRC state mining company.  It was sold for $15 million, says Okenda, and a few months later it was resold by the new owner, an offshore company, for $75 million.  And that has been the pattern, he says in these five deals that were all conducted in secret without a tender.

Global Witness said it is particularly troubling that all the mining assets sold in these deals appear to have passed through the ownership of the same company.  That would not have been known, said Balint-Kurti, if it were not for years of investigation which finally revealed identities that were hidden by certain offshore, secret tax havens.

One of those tax havens used by companies involved in the DRC deals was the British Virgin Islands.

Global Witness argued Britain should pressure its overseas territories like the Virgin Islands to change their laws so that companies registered there are required to declare their owners.

"The system of keeping company ownership secret has a large role to play in ripping off poor African states," said Balint-Kurti.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will try to persuade the G8 group of nations to agree to end this kind of offshore secrecy.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid