Alexis Indenge and Ludovic Houssard
Alexis Indenge, expert in the digital sector and co-founder of Ingenious City, a start-up incubator in Kinshasa, and Ludovic Houssard, CEO of Servtec RDC, a French group specialising in outsourcing in human resources, QHSE and fire safety, are the two architects of French Week 2019. They presented the main points to M&B in a preview. Interview.

M&B: Ludovic Houssard: A brief review of previous editions before getting to the heart of the matter? 

L.H: This will be the 6th edition, which means that we are starting to develop over time. The first four editions took place at the Institut français, but we noticed that the site did not quite correspond to the request of investors who wanted much more B2B, even B2C, and less general public meetings. So we moved to Pullman, which is more business-friendly, and according to the participants, this 2018 edition was a great success. We will be there again this year. Our objective is to build on what worked last year while focusing on B2B. 

M&B: Alexis Indenge, what will be the theme of this sixth edition? 

A.I: Economic diversification and local content. The DRC is at a crossroads and its ecosystem can no longer be so dependent on mining resources alone. It is time to focus on other industries....

MB: But how does this theme concern French investors? 

A.I: In more than one way. Already, in terms of country image, these investors need to know that DRC is not equal to Mining! That the potential is considerable in agro-industry, processing industry, high-tech, energy, subcontracting... and that many promising sectors can be developed. But I am also thinking of the entrepreneurs already present in the field who have a real responsibility in terms of CSR and training of local staff. 

MB: Are you referring to the Subcontracting Act, 2018

A.I: Yes, among other things. This law is sometimes perceived as binding on foreign companies, although I remain convinced that it will be a real guarantee of sustainability for them, while promoting the local economy. We are in the win-win situation because integrating and training local managers is crucial for performance management, regardless of the country of implementation, in my opinion! 

MB: Ludovic, do you share this point of view?

I.H.: 100%! First, training Congolese senior managers and gradually handing over to the country’s actors represents a considerable saving. But then, it allows better communication with public decision-makers, administrations, etc. Servtec pursues this policy in all countries

M&B: Alexis, why does a Congolese investor choose the Franco-Congolese CCI? 

A.I: The ICC is first and foremost a network that benefits French companies, but let us not forget that it is a great gateway to the French market for Congolese companies. It is very important that this dynamic be bilateral, and it is more and more so.    

M&B: Which justifies the fact that several Congolese companies have a stand there? 

A.I: Absolutely. Exposure to French Week means opening up to a new network, new investment partners, new markets, and in particular the French market, which is very important.

M&B: Ludovic, any comment on this subject? 

L.H: Yes, to remind you that French companies have expertise in many areas essential to the development of Congolese companies and that partnerships can also be considered from this angle. 

M&B: What about links with other bilateral chambers in Central Africa? 

L.H: Kenya is watching us very closely, as are South Africa and Morocco. And it is not impossible that several of them will be present this year. The talks are very advanced.... 

M&B: Fifty stands last year... A goal for 2019? 

L.H: Our objective is not necessarily to increase the number of stands, but to be more efficient in terms of B2B and networking. The focus will be on these two points this year... This 2019 edition is also a call to major investors in France. I am thinking in particular of the luxury industry, or the major retailers, Auchan, Carrefour...

 Décathlon is already present and has exceeded its ambitions: it is particularly promising! 

M&B: The French Week is also a beautiful cultural and festive moment...

A.I: Yes, the event is deliberately linked to Jazz Kiff, a major cultural event of the year that allows foreigners to discover our culture... But there is also wine, sausage! Let’s reassure ourselves (laughs)! 

M&B: To plagiarize AFD and Proparco, whose DG World will be present... Why “choose RDC? »

A.I: Because we are in a post-crisis situation and those who dare to come today will be the big winners tomorrow... 

L.H.: Yes, and because everything remains to be done in the DRC, which, it should be remembered, has an internal market of 80 million inhabitants, with nine border countries.

A.I: And because it is a 95% peaceful country, where we find all the international standards in terms of restaurants, leisure activities, hotels... and where we can really celebrate and live well!  

M&B: Alexis, Ludovic, thank you.

A.I & L.H: Thank you to M&B for devoting this special report to the event.  

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