"Our aim is to consolidate and establish collaborations with mining companies and their value chain."

Alassane Sorgo

GENERAL MANAGER, ECOBANK DRC

March 01, 2024

Can you present Ecobank and the main highlights from the DRC branch ? 

Ecobank exists since 1985, born of the vision of the Presidents of the Federations of West African Chambers of Commerce who decided to create a regional bank. The first subsidiary was set up in Togo in 1988, and by 1999 we had expanded into West Africa, before moving on to Central, East and Southern Africa. We are present in 34 countries and also have representative offices in London, Beijing, Dubai, Johannesburg and Addis Ababa, as well as a banking subsidiary in Paris. 

Established in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2008, we have been working in the mining sector for several years now. Over the years, we have developed our expertise in the mining sector to meet the challenges and opportunities faced by mining companies.   Our aim is to consolidate and establish collaborations with mining companies and their value chain. We recently took part in DRC Mining Week and African Mining Indaba 2023 in Cape Town. We also accompanied the Minister of Mines to the PDAC annual convention in Toronto to support the DRC as a destination.

Can you describe your latest investments in innovative solutions, particularly in digital banking?

We invest heavily in technology and digitalisation; and it is in this context that since 2017 we have launched the "Ecobank Fintech challenge" trophy, which is one of the largest cash prizes awarded unconditionally in the fintech field in sub-Saharan Africa, specifically designed to encourage innovation in this sector. This year our second finalist is from the DRC, and we're really proud of it.

In the DRC, digital technology not only enables us to increase financial inclusion, but also gives a large number of people access to the financial services and platforms that we are developing, in an autonomous way. Our OMNI Plus platform for large corporates, our OMNI Lite platform for SMEs and our Ecobank Online platform for individuals enable all our customers to carry out their transactions securely and at any time anywhere in the world.  We believe that tomorrow, all players will turn to these solutions.

What factors make the DRC an attractive place for foreign investments? 

With a population of over 100 million, more than 50% of whom are relatively young, and therefore a ready supply of labor, the domestic market is vast and potentially lucrative for companies.  This attracts investors whose aim is to exploit resources for their commercial value. It should also be noted that in recent years, the DRC has made significant progress in the development of transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructures, which facilitates investment and trade, particularly in the mining sector. The new economic reforms also play an important role in investor decisions. Tax incentives, guarantees and administrative facilities have improved the business climate and encouraged foreign investment.

What is your assessment of the state of the workforce in the country? 

Today we are talking about the development of national economic entities. It should be noted that this requires local skills.  Although the DRC has a large workforce, there are major challenges. Investment in education, training, the creation of formal jobs and the promotion of decent working conditions are essential to stimulate economic development and improve prospects for the working population, thereby helping to create a middle class. So, as well as putting in place the financial and material resources, we need to think about developing the capacity of human resources.

Let's take the example of the mining sector. Through the ARSP, they are asked to hand over 30% of contracts to local people. However, the latter must meet the expectations of the miners in terms of training and qualifications. State investment in education and training through trade schools, for example, will be one of the answers to the question of the qualification and competence of the workforce. 

What are your priorities to sustain growth in the mining sector?

We have put in place a Mining Paper that will enable us to pursue our strategy meticulously, with the aim of playing a key role in the sustainable development of the country's mining sector. As the mining sector grows, we are continually focusing our priorities on developing solid expertise in order to better understand the specific features of the sector and anticipate needs and respond to specific requirements. These priorities concern both mining companies and their value chain.

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