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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.