Mining & Business: At the end of May, you are again holding a Katanga Business Meeting. There wasn't one last year, next year, yes. Could you explain this new initiative to us?
Costa Coursaris: Indeed, KBM has not been held for the last 2 years and is back in 2018 for a third and even more striking edition, full of events, professional opportunities and high-level meetings. The last few years have been difficult for most economic actors, mainly because of the fall of metal prices in the DRC and, more generally, a crisis affecting the whole world. International investment also fell sharply in our region. Many companies are facing budget revisions or layoffs, and this still affects our operations to this day. The KBM is the only exhibition of its kind to have brought together 170 exhibitors in 2015 with 10 foreign countries involved. It's a ship I'm flying, and I have to lead it to success. Engaging under such constraints to promote the economy in the DRC is a real challenge. KBM's mission is to bring and integrate new companies into the local network and requires a favourable entrepreneurial climate! At present, metal prices are encouraging and should allow the main national sector, mining, to feed the network of companies and provide a new horizon for entrepreneurs. The future requirements for cobalt, copper and coltan for electric cars and smartphones (among others) guarantee a few favourable years for our country. The government seems more determined than ever to promote the growth of agriculture and tourism. The liberalisation of energy production and of insurance are several indicators that guarantee a successful meeting.
KBM aims to innovate and be a web of discovery. We adapt our calendar according to this very important criterion to guarantee the success and sustainability of this event. We can't afford to offer an edition that is weaker than the others, that's why we decided to use these 2 years to offer an even better quality KBM 2018.
M&B: Where will the event take place?
CC: The 3rd edition of the KBM will take place in Lubumbashi, more precisely in Luano City. An agreement was reached so that in May 2018, a 12,000m² space will be made available to exhibitors against 9,000m² for the last edition in 2015. The objectives of this new partnership are multiple: firstly, a larger area to accommodate all exhibitors who wish to do so. We are planning a conference area, speed meeting areas, a meeting room, a collaboration hub and a workshop space allowing a more appropriate exchange with our foreign visitors. Not to mention an exhibition area for machines. Finally, last but not least, we are working on a more appropriate catering area equipped with new sanitary facilities. In general, we want to create a unique and welcoming place for a KBM that makes a difference! And speaking of locality, I can already tell you that we have the ambition to head towards Kolwezi in the near future.
M&B: What do you expect from this new KBM? Who is it addressed to?
CC: I want to emphasize the importance of creating new businesses in this country. The terrain is pristine and we feel an effect of communicating vessels leading inevitably towards globalization. I do not think the DRC will be in trouble for years to come. Many investments have slowed down due to problems of hassle and transparency. However, many companies manage to work and develop and invest on a daily basis. The local economic web is limited, so the role and objective of KBM is to open ourselves to all continents. The first steps in the DRC are often perilous and frightening for a newcomer. Whether it is a tourist or a businessman, we have shortcomings to welcome them and present a country rich in opportunities. Clarity on taxes, transparency and other harassment discouraged many. Through KBM, we want to give international actors the opportunity to be accompanied in order to face procedures and approaches of all kinds. To say that it is not possible to operate in the DRC must be a thing of the past, because we must reach out to international entrepreneurs and investors and reassure them about the stability of the country.
M&B: What are the main topics to be covered?
CC: The 2018 edition of KBM will focus on innovation, interactivity and networking. This theme may appear to be broad, but let us make no mistake about it: speaking of innovative solutions, we reject the solutions already seen and known and wish to concentrate on real initiatives that will move the country forward. Great progress in the development of our country is expected in the sectors of energy, agriculture, new technologies and subcontracting. Not to mention the mines, the vectors of our economy, which will return to growth and boost all sectors of activity.