The impact of Sicomines on development in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Abstract: The main motivation of the Congolese government in signing the Sicomines deal, the most important Sino-African resource financed infrastructure (RFI) agreement, was the creation of a set infrastructure elements with a long-term positive impact on the population's living conditions. In this article, we present the results of an intermediary assessment of the main socioeconomic consequences of the so-called ‘deal of the century’. Additionally, we also provide relevant evidence about China's resource-financed infrastructure (RFI) model, which is key to determining China's potential role as a valuable strategic partner in building a better future for Africa. This analysis compares objectives and evidence in the main areas of the agreement: mining production, infrastructure, debt, economic growth and development. The appraisal has been carried out on the basis of a combination of evaluation tools, relying on extensive data collection from the most relevant DRC and international sources. In addition, several data sources have been checked to mitigate the unreliability of statistics and relevant qualitative information has been included with the objective of going beyond quantitative statistics. We conclude that in this first decade the Sicomines deal has not had the beneficial socio-economic consequences that were promised; the evidence shows that the DRC is exchanging part of its mineral wealth for deficient roads and poor equipment. This is a relevant conclusion since the outcomes of major pioneer RFI initiatives such as Sicomines may well determine the success of China's new financing and development paradigm in Africa.
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