Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have signed a historical cooperation agreement to facilitate the development of value chain in electric battery and clean energy sector.
The Cooperation Agreement is expected to provide a framework for bilateral cooperation on the initiative to develop the battery value chain as well as strengthen collaboration between Zambia and DRC.
Once actualised, the combined strategy will create jobs for Congolese and Zambians and boost economies of the two countries.
From the Zambian, the agreement was signed by Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Chipoka Mulenga, Minister of Finance and National Planning Situmbeko Musokotwane, and Mines and Mineral Development counterpart Paul Kabuswe.
DRC Minister of Industry Julien Paluku Kahongya, Minister of Mines Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi, and Deputy Minister of Finance O’neige Mimpa signed the cooperation agreement of their country.
President Hakainde Hichilema and his DRC counterpart Felix Tshisekedi witnessed the signing ceremony at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka yesterday.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, President Hakainde Hichilema said the signing of cooperation agreements between Zambia and the DRC to start manufacturing electric car batteries is key milestone towards poverty alleviation in Zambia and DRC.
President Hichilema added that the agreement has removed shame from Africa which has been known as an exporter of cheap raw materials.
“Today’s agreements prove that my attendance of the DRC Business Forum held in November 2021 was a right decision as it gave birth to today’s historical event. However, signing is one thing and there is need to actualize the agreement. Africa has for long been viewed as a source of raw materials, but the narrative is now being changed” the President emphasised.
On his part, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said Africa has to be the master of its own destiny.
With the two countries being home to at least 80 percent of minerals required for production of electric car batteries, President Tshisekedi notes that African countries should put their resources together to unlock their economic potential.
He said the agreement will strengthen the value chain for production of batteries for electric cars which will be key to economies of Zambia and the DRC. Mr. Tshisekedi said Africa’s economic power will be advanced with such initiatives which will create jobs for many youths.
Speaking earlier, Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister, Mr Chipoka Mulenga the signing ceremony signified a key milestone for both countries as the initiative provides a great to harness mineral resource wealth and foster the development of mineral-based industrialisation and value chains.
“The era of electric vehicles is in sight, and batteries are poised to become a leading power source mobility”, the minister emphasised.
Mr Mulenga said with the leadership of the two heads of State, the ceremony demonstrated commitment to working together even beyond the development of the battery electrical vehicle value chain.
DRC Industry Minister Julien Paluku Kahongya said that there was need for Africa to add value to its natural resources in minerals like Cobalt, Lithium, Nickel and Manganese for it to ‘come out of economic turmoil’.
Mr Mulenga and Mr Kahongya in Zambia and DRC joint communique resolved that the two countries agreed to set up DRC-Zambia Battery Council to oversee the implementation of the cooperating agreement for the electric car battery value chain for the benefit of the two countries.
The Executive Council will be composed by President Hakainde Hichilema and his DRC counterpart Felix Tshisekedi and will comprise various key stakeholders.
For his part, Director for ECA Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa (ECA SRO-CA), Mr. Jean Luc Mastaki who spoke on behalf of ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, observed that DRC and Zambia had a golden opportunity to move from their historic status as exporters of cheap raw materials to manufacturer and supplier of battery precursors and the related knowledge-based services.
“Adding value to the battery minerals, through an inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, will definitely allow the two countries to pave the way to a robust, resilient and inclusive growth pattern which creates jobs for millions of our population and mostly the young people whose capacity will be strengthened by the African center of excellence on electrical batteries skills launched last week in Lubumbashi, as a partnership between Congolese and Zambian schools of mines and polytechnics” he said.
Mr. Mastaki added that the ECA was proud to be part of the development and signing of the cooperation agreement between the two countries. “This project is in line with the ambitions of the Africa Mining Vision, adopted by Heads of States at the February 2009 African Union summit. The vision proudly underlines how Africa would like to tackle the paradox of great mineral wealth existing side by side with pervasive poverty” Mr. Mastaki emphasised.
And African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) representative, Mr. Andrew Masuwa said the financial institution will fund preparations for the project which will culminate from the agreements and also offer advisory services. “We fully welcome and support the Operationalisation of this agreement” Mr. Masuwa said.
Zambia Association of Manufacturers president Ashu Sagar said the private sector will play its role in seeing to it that the programme succeeds.
“We have been advocating for the mineral beneficiation and this value addition will benefit both countries” Mr. Sagar added.
Bank of Zambia Governor, Denny Kalyalya said Zambia has depended on imports for a long time and that the agreement will increase foreign exchange inflow in the long run.
Dr. Kalyalya said the Central bank stands ready to ensure that financial institutions help provide resources to make the project successful.
University of Zambia Vice-Chancellor, Professor Luke Mumba said the higher learning institutions will train researchers for the project and participate in surveys to identify locations of the required minerals of the project.
The ceremony was attended by the two Presidents, ministers from DRC, Zambia and relevant public institutions representatives and key stakeholders from both the public and private sectors among others.