Congo Rep says China interested in economic zones


China has signalled it could help finance construction of the four special economic zones (SEZs) on which Congo Republic is banking to diversify its economy away from oil, said the central African country.

The four SEZ sites are due to be launched next year, and Congo has already charged Singapore Cooperation Enterprise to create feasibility studies for the projects.
“Our Chinese friends are interested in financing the construction of the special economic zones,” Alain Akouala Atipault, minister in charge of the SEZ projects, told Reuters after talks with China-Africa Development Fund chairman Zhao Jianping, Reuters reports.

He added that the results of the feasibility studies were expected within the next nine to 10 months but gave no details of the timing of any Chinese involvement.

One of the SEZs will be at the port of Congo’s economic capital Pointe-Noire, with a surface area of 1,600 hectares. Another will be at Oyo-Ollombo, about 400 km north of Brazzaville, while the two others will be in the interior.

Congo, which currently produces around 340,000 barrels of oil per day, has not detailed the incentives available for companies which set up in the zones, but says that a chief aim is to create local employment.

Despite being one of Africa’s fastest growing economies with around 10 percent growth seen this year, Congo is still recovering from a civil war in 1997 which destroyed much of its infrastructure.