Rwanda’s economic interests in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

In the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, fighting continues between the Congolese army and M23 rebels in the northern province of Kivu, which borders Rwanda. This country is accused by the Kinshasa authorities of supporting the armed rebel group. What Kigali continues to deny. For the Congolese president, there is an “economic war for the struggle for resources” in the eastern part of his country. The Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is really rich in raw materials and Rwandan interests in the area seem to be largely mining.

Due to the tension between the two neighbors, the Kinshasa authorities have requested that all bilateral agreements concluded between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, including the one on gold, be suspended. Mined on the Congolese side, the ore must be refined on the Rwandan side. The goal was to better track Congolese gold to deprive armed groups of income from this sector.

Because the Congolese mining sector is plagued by fraud and smuggling. The Rwandan neighbor, a small mining producer, is often accused in various UN and / or NGO reports of encouraging this smuggling sector, for gold, but also for coltan, tin, tantalum, juicy materials used in the manufacture of mobile phones or computers.

According to a miner quoted in a Global Witness report from April 2022, “90% of the minerals exported by Rwanda were smuggled in from the DRC”.

But beyond the mining sector, the exchanges between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda are enormous, both in agriculture, commercial and service fields, sometimes one-way, recalls Daddy Saleh, a Congolese expert on economics and development.

There are many exchanges in terms of people, human resources (…) and there are also huge commercial exchanges, as the Democratic Republic of Congo imports almost everything in terms of basic necessities.

Daddy Saleh, Congolese economic and development expert

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