Zimbabwe and Democratic Republic of Congo have enjoyed a history of good political relations, which have been renewed in the recent years following the Second Republic’s re-engagement drive.
However, Zimbabwean businesses are still to take full advantage of these relations to unlock economic gains that are embedded in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
This is why President Mnangagwa’s international relations agenda has been shifting from political relations to economic diplomacy, so that local companies can fully benefit from years of cooperation with DRC.
Speaking during the just-ended Zimbabwe Outward Seller Mission organised by ZimTrade – the national trade development and promotion organisation – the Haut-Katanga Provincial Minister of Economy and Trade, Celine Munanga commended efforts by President Mnangagwa and his counterpart, President Felix Tshilombo in strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries.
“We also take this opportunity take the opportunity to commend the efforts of our two Heads of State, their Excellencies Emmerson Mnangagwa and Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi who are joining forces for the development of industry and boosting sustainable development,” she said.
The Zimbabwe Outward Seller Mission was organised to create strong linkages between local exporters and potential buyers and distributors in Lubumbashi.
The ultimate goal of the Mission is to increase Zimbabwe’s exports to DRC, making use of Lubumbashi as the gateway to the market.
During the three-day programme that included business-to-business meeting and company visits, 30 local companies met more than 100 private sector players from Lubumbashi who expressed interest to source diversified value-added products and service from Zimbabwe.
Most of these opportunities are concentrated in processed foods, agriculture inputs and implements, horticulture, protective wear, mining supplies, construction and engineering, building and construction, and services.
Processed foods There is high demand for processed foods in Lubumbashi, and the rest of DRC.
A survey of the DRC market conducted by ZimTrade revealed that South Africa and Zambia are countries in the region that have a huge market share in the fast-moving-consumer-goods sector of DRC.
Given Zimbabwe’s advanced manufacturing industry, that is arguably a step ahead of Zambia, local businesses can increase supplies to Zambia as a gateway to DRC.
Thus, it is imperative for local companies to also take advantage of Zambia’s proximity to supply Lubumbashi.
A thriving informal sector at Kasumbalesa could be used as a gateway into the market where local companies can establish distribution channels at the land entry point and indirectly supply the country.
It is important to note that some sections of the Lubumbashi market are already familiar with Zimbabwean brands
A survey conducted by ZimTrade revealed that several consumers in the Katanga area indicated a general preference for Zimbabwean products.
Products being imported include milk, yoghurt, cheese, chicken, polony, beef as well as tinned foods.
Other products on the import list include cereals, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, fruit juices and cooking oil.
From the local horticulture sector, Zimbabwean farmers can supply fresh fruits and frozen vegetables, garlic, ginger, and turmeric.
There is already a major drive for boosting production of garlic, ginger, and turmeric across Zimbabwe and some of the produce will be earmarked for Lubumbashi.
Agriculture inputs and implements The DRC government has been moving towards modernizing the country’s agriculture sector, creating opportunities for Zimbabwean companies to supply appropriate technologies. Required products that local businesses can supply include hand-held farming equipment, tractors, cultivators, and planters. There are opportunities for agriculture inputs and supplements, focusing on smallholder farmers as well as established commercial farmers. For agricultural produce there is potential to supply tobacco, meat, sugar, cereals, cotton, vegetable, fats and oils, nuts, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Mining supplies
Economic growth in DRC is mainly driven by the mining sector, where vast opportunities to supply products and services exist.
DRC is the largest producer of cobalt in the world and also one of the largest producers of copper, most of which comes from Katanga region.
The mining sector in the Katanga region is composed of both large-scale mining firms and the small artisanal mining operations, presenting an opportunity for Zimbabwean exporters of mining consumables, engineering, and safety solutions.
Major mining houses in the Haut Katanga province are investing in new explorations and expansion of existing operations.
These activities are driving demand for goods and services used in mining, building and construction as well as engineering services. There are opportunities in the Lubumbashi mining sector to export services such as engineering, surveying, instrumentation, transport, plant maintenance, environmental management, and artisanal services like quantity. In the services sector, there are also opportunities for Zimbabwean professionals in areas like the medical field, teaching, hospitality and catering, motor mechanics and skilled agriculture workers. Building and construction The Construction industry is booming in Lubumbashi which is home to more than three million people. Villas, offices, apartment buildings and shopping centers are all sprouting in different parts of the city. This has created opportunities for products such as timber, roofing materials, doors, door frames, furniture products. Services such as engineering are also in demand in the building and construction sector. Services In the services sector, there are also opportunities for Zimbabwean professionals in areas like the medical field, teaching, hospitality and catering, motor mechanics and skilled agriculture workers. The information and communication technology sector in Lubumbashi is growing, creating demand for support services such as programming, software support, and network security. There are also opportunities in the insurance sector, which currently has a few players. Those seeking opportunities in these services sectors need to take note of language as French is the official language widely used in business. The language requirement for services is also the same with products, which should be labelled in French. Labelling in both French and English will maximise on sales as well as create seamless communication between Zimbabwean exporters and potential buyers.
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