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Congo Mines Minister, Kalambayi plans to end EGC monopoly over artisanal cobalt

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Democratic Republic of Congo Mines Minister Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi is hoping to end Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC) solo-ride in the country’s artisanal cobalt space.

The minister told newsmen on Wednesday that she is seeking to cancel a decree granting EGC a monopoly over artisanal cobalt produced in the country.

Kalambayi said: “I wouldn’t say I am for or against, but one thing is certain: we gave the monopoly to Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC), and that is a violation of the laws of the Republic.”

“EGC” is a subsidiary of GECAMINES, established in 2019 and mandated by the Democratic Republic of Congo Government to exercise a monopoly in the country on the sourcing of cobalt from artisanal mining operations, whereby processing prior to export is required before it can be traded.

The minister said Congolese law allows industrial mines to cede a part of their licence to artisanal miners, and that she was supportive of companies working to formalise the sector.

“Formalisation is a priority for me, because the Republic is losing out,” not only in terms of unclaimed tax but also in terms of mined products that get smuggled out.

EGC’s operations stopped as a result of infighting between government departments, leadership change at Gecamines, and the challenge of securing access to a viable artisanal site to buy from.

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COVID-19: Friendship renewed as Algeria opens land border with Tunisia

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Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune has announced that it will reopen the land border between the two countries in mid-July.

The border, which starts in the north at the Mediterranean coast, proceeding overland in a broadly southwards directions via a series of overland lines was closed in 2020 during the peak of Covid-19.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune made the announcement at Algiers airport alongside his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saied who was preparing to leave the country after attending the festivities marking the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence.

“We have taken a joint decision to reopen the land borders from July 15.”

Until the pandemic, more than three million Algerians travelled to Tunisia each year, according to local media.

Generally speaking, relations between Algeria and Tunisia have so far been homogenous. Although Algeria postponed the opening of it borders with Tunisia in May.

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The Gambia benefits from World Bank’s $68m grant to revive tourism industry

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The Gambia and the World Bank have sealed a $68m grant deal which will go to support the West African country’s tourism industry, hitherto the biggest contributor to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), before the Coronavirus pandemic hit the global tourism sector, causing a near economic meltdown.

World Bank’s Managing Director of Operations, Axel Van Trotsenburg, who announced the signing of the deal at a ceremony in Gambia’s capital, Banjul, on Tuesday, said the grant is meant to support the diversification and climate resilience of the country’s tourism after the pandemic and economic crisis.

Trotsenburg added that promoting the diversification and climate resilience of tourism will help protect the Atlantic coastline of The Gambia from the effects of climate change.

About 20 per cent of The Gambian economy depends on earnings from its tourism as it is the largest foreign exchange earner for the government but the advent of the pandemic had caused the country’s economic growth to contract by 0.2 percent in 2020, according to the World Bank.

This was as a result of the global restrictions on travelling between 2020 and 2021, which prevented tourists and visitors going to the country, leading to the tourism industry taking a huge hit.

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