“The successes of our previous participation in DRC Mining Week compelled us to come back and cultivate key contacts made“

Exclusive interview with South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (dti), which is hosting a South African country pavilion at DRC Mining Week in Lubumbashi for the third year.

Welcome back to DRC Mining Week! Why the decision to return to Lubumbashi?
Thank you! It is extremely exciting for us as a country to be back to the DRC, Lubumbashi and more particularly to this important show. The successes of our previous participation in the form of a South African National Pavilion at this show compelled us to come back and cultivate key contacts made during the previous edition of the DRC Mining Week. You would note that business in Africa is all about relationships, which requires sustenance for them to translate into solid business deals.

Mining plays a critical role in both our economies and contributes significantly to our gross domestic product, therefore, platforms like the DRC Mining Week are perfect for our participating companies to build/sustain and establish new business deals and relations

Which companies will be represented on the South African National Pavilion?
There has been an overwhelming interest from our companies this year and the Department of Trade and Industry will be leading a delegation of 40 companies to participate and showcase their products under the South African National Pavilion.

What products or projects will the South African National Pavilion display at the event in Lubumbashi this year?
During this year’s DRC Mining Week’s offering the Department of Trade and Industry will be exhibiting an array of mining products and services including mechanical and electrical engineering services, specialised hydraulic lifting & stressing cylinders, electro-hydraulic equipment; hydraulic cylinder repair equipment; mining hoses; potable water systems; pumps and specialised agitators; transformer oil purifiers; safety clothing; conveyor systems; milling machines; and split roller bearings amongst others.

What makes the mining sector in the DRC exciting for South African companies?
South Africa and the DRC share strong and cordial economic relations which are underpinned by a number of bilateral agreements. These demonstrate South Africa’s commitment to the development of the DRC, including the industrialization of the mining sector whereby mineral beneficiation within the borders of DRC is promoted.

The DRC also offers a number of opportunities for our companies as it is still reported that the country has untapped mineral deposits at an estimated US$24 trillion. It is the biggest producer of cobalt, the second largest producer of diamonds and significant deposits of gold, zinc, tin and potash. The country therefore   remains a key mining destination for our companies, who possess the necessary skills and technology to take full advantage of the opportunities represented by the country.

And are there particular skills that South African mining experts and suppliers can share with DRC mining companies?
South Africa’s mining sector dates back to the 1800s and has been mining different minerals ranging from coal, gold, diamonds, platinum, chromium and uranium which require an assortment of skill sets and our companies have been able to develop these skills. Our companies and state owned institutions such as Mintek, which is part of the delegation, have put in a lot of time in research and development and therefore are competitive in the latest mining technologies; engineering; mining equipment and technical skills which can be shared and transferred to the DRC mining sector’s advantage.  

How important is DRC Mining Week as an annual forum for the mining sector in this region?
The event is important for the region as it allows experts from over 50 countries to converge and share skills and technology on how to access the untapped minerals of this region. This, in turn, contributes to the development of not only the region but that of the DRC as a country. Industrialization therefore becomes a reachable goal.

South Africa’s participation also allows our companies to showcase their services and products to possible buyers from different countries, thus contributing to the country’s mission to increase value-added exports in order to grow our own economy.

What will be your message at DRC Mining Week this year?
Building mutually beneficial relations for the industrialisation of the Region and Africa’s mining industry, as we endeavour to accelerate intra-Africa trade by creating a “One African market’.

Anything you would like to add?
South Africa is committed to the implementation of the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap and increasing partnerships with DRC in advancing the Agenda 2063 as well as the fourth industrial revolution.

In this context, we view the DRC as a strategic partner on the Continent and we believe that participation in the DRC Mining Week provides us with an ideal platform to expose our local businesspeople in the mining and allied industries to opportunities in the DRC especially within the infrastructure realm which has presented a myriad of opportunities for collaboration and partnerships. I think it important to stress that South Africa is steadfast in its commitment towards creating tangible partnerships with the DRC so as to ensure that the DRC develops into a key driver of Africa’s economic development with its vast water resources and its untapped mineral reserves which are of global importance.

In keeping with the development integration agenda, African countries are pursuing industrialisation so as to promote structural transformation of their economies. South Africa needs to partner with the African continent in its ambition to industrialise. In this regard, South Africa pursues an investment led strategy into the continent. An investment led strategy would imply that focus should be on developing a focussed outward investment approach into key sectors in the continent.

Most of SA’s investments are concentrated in Southern Africa due to the SADC Trade Protocol and the Investment chapter in the Finance and Investment Protocol. These should be used as building blocks for an Africa-wide FTA and investment framework. SADC is therefore an important platform on which to build from. The investment-led strategy will have a direct correlation to export promotion as it will promote the development of regional value-chains on the basis of complementarities. The advantage of this strategy is that SA will be contributing to industrialisation of the African continent while also achieving its own development objectives. In this regard, South Africa, in line with the development integration approach, will negotiate FTAs that will accommodate Member States’ sensitivities to ensure that countries have the necessary policy space to promote industrial development.

South Africa’s approach to DRC’s mining sector is that of building partnership to ensure the development of the sector in the DRC and further ensuring that the sector reaches its full potential and contributes to the country’s GDP.