Mining & Business: The current economic situation is tough. Why organise a French week during this difficult period?
Alain Rémy: Not to hold the French week this year would have been a wrong signal, would have given rise to concern. It would have been a sign of resignation, a sign of disengagement. There is a part of faith in this action, in our approach, which is once more a common approach, and this part of belief is based on will. There are difficulties, but willpower can overcome these challenges: the will to not to consider that, because there are difficulties, one should abstain or withdraw. Instead, when there are difficulties, we work to overcome them with the Chamber of Commerce, with foreign trade advisors, with the Embassy. There is a will to stay and a determination to continue to work here despite the difficulties. We live in a challenging world, a globalised world, and if we draw back every time there is an obstacle, we won't go very far.
M & B: How many French companies here in the DRC are working in agribusiness? Why is CFAO DRC not involved in agribusiness here? And what would it take to make this week a success?
AR: I cannot answer on behalf of CFAO. Regarding French companies working in the sector of agro-industry, the answer is that there are none. There are none because French companies do not come without a respondent. They need partners. One has to clear the way to find the right places, the right companies, the right partners. We can't come to a sector which is blank. We need to rely on infrastructure, on networks for production, for distribution, for commercialisation. French companies do not come if there is not already a base, a reality of agro-industry and agribusiness in the country.
To speak of success: the first thing is attendance. We had an excellent attendance last year. We can still aim for more than last year’s 11,000 visitors. A sign and not the entire response. It is an indicator among many others which one really must insist, is the job dating, the confrontation between the supply and demand of labour, between the French companies offering jobs to young Congolese and young Congolese in search of employment, often highly qualified. Beyond that, there is a dynamic to relaunch exchanges in various fields, especially – but not only – in the area of digital technology and agribusiness, to restore life, to restore the body of a process of economic and commercial rapprochement, by making investments. Besides these figures, there is also a kind of atmosphere which shows that, yes, it is worth coming to work in the DRC.
M & B: Will digital technology and agribusiness, this year’s chosen themes, save the DRC?
AR: Digital technology and agribusiness, alone, won't rid the DRC of its problems. Other ideas have been taken into account apart from the main two. Here, I refer to the insurance sector in particular, which is under reorganisation and regulation. It is another theme that will focus our attention. There is also the topic of energy and the problem of agriculture in the DRC. So, there are much more areas which selected in coordination with the three principal organisers. These two themes seemed a priority to us, and next year, we'll select others.