Kinshasa, DRC, August 10, 2009
–The Investment Climate Advisory Services of the World Bank Group today agreed to support the Democratic Republic of Congo’s planned special economic zone aimed at encouraging investment and employment opportunities. The World Bank Group will provide technical assistance on legal, institutional and regulatory issues, as well as on the planning of the zone, to support a secure and transparent environment for private sector investors.
A special economic zone, or SEZ, is a physical space that facilitates access to essential infrastructure and land and provides simplified mechanisms for business registration and operation. The SEZ can be used as a platform for reforms that would later be extended to the rest of a country.
A cooperation agreement to undertake a SEZ feasibility study was signed today by Jean Philippe Prosper, IFC Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the DRC Minister of Finance, Athanase Matenda Kyelu. The signing coincided with a two-day visit to DRC by Robert B. Zoellick, President of the World Bank.
“The Congolese are eager to encourage private sector investment to see the benefits of the employment and other opportunities it will create. With this cooperation agreement, the World Bank Group and the DRC government can establish sound foundations for the successful development of an SEZ in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” said Jean-Philippe Prosper, IFC’s Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.
In July 2009, a pilot SEZ site at N’Sele, close to the capital city Kinshasa, was proposed by the government’s SEZ steering committee. The site would be suitable for the development of agribusiness operations that could supply Kinshasa with food products that are now imported.
Pierre Guislain, Director of the Investment Climate Advisory Services of the World Bank Group said, “The creation of a special economic zone will allow the DRC Government to pursue options to improve the overall business environment in the country, and thus attract investments in sectors that have been long neglected.”
The World Bank Group will aim to support the design of a legal, institutional and regulatory framework for special economic zones in the country, and develop a master plan, based on a demand assessment. An international private SEZ operator is eventually expected to be identified, to manage and develop the site in the partnership with the Congolese state.
The feasibility study will be supported by IFC’s Conflict-Affected States in Africa initiative, a program financed by Ireland, the Netherlands and Norway that aims to support economic growth in African countries recovering from conflict. The initiative helps rebuild the private sector by improving the business environment, strengthening small and medium sized enterprises, developing financial markets, and increasing private sector involvement in infrastructure. The feasibility study is expected to cost $3 million.
“This support shows the desire of the World Bank Group to jointly work with the DRC Government to improve the investment climate in our country, in order to promote the private sector, to develop productive capacities, to create lasting and paying jobs, and to fight poverty”, added Simon Mboso Kiamputu, the DRC Minister of Industry.
About the Investment Climate Advisory Services of the World Bank Group
The Investment Climate Advisory Services of the World Bank Group helps governments implement reforms to improve their business environment, and encourage and retain investment, thus fostering competitive markets, growth and job creation. Funding is provided by the World Bank Group (IFC, MIGA, and the World Bank) and over fifteen donor partners working through the multi-donor FIAS platform.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled US$15 billion in fiscal 2009, helping channel capital into developing countries during the financial crisis. For more information, visit