Felix Tshisekedi, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has promised to support entrepreneurs who he called the "primary partners" of the country, in an effort to grow the economy.
Tshisekedi spoke during the opening ceremony of the Makutano Forum 5 in Kinshasa on Friday, saying his government will take strong measures to restore the middle class with the promotion of the young entrepreneurs across all provinces.
He said one key measure is guaranteeing the creation of funds for young entrepreneurs. The funds are expected to enable young Congolese to access credit to venture into entrepreneurship or expand their businesses. It's also part of the government's effort to lower interest rates, which are currently considered exorbitant.
"My ambition is to create several Congolese millionaires as well as support the establishment of many small and medium enterprises to create employment," he said.
The president reassured the business community that he has embarked on actions aimed at avoiding all kinds of harassment on enterprises by state agencies.
The Federation of Enterprises of Congo has been raising concerns regarding the missions of the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF), which they termed a "bother".
Tshisekedi also announced that he will convene a round table meeting to listen to the grievances of the business community with the aim of improving business environments. Through the meeting, he also plans to set up a mechanism for monitoring reforms for the country's business environment.
He said his government will establish more vocational training centers to align skills training with labor market demands.
The president also promised to create agro-industrial zones as well as develop infrastructure in the agricultural sector to reduce import of food stuffs. Currently, he said, the country imports 90 percent of its basic consumer goods, despite having huge agricultural potential.
According to Invest in DR Congo, a national agency for the promotion of investments, the country has 80 million acres of arable land and 4 million acres of irrigable land, as well as many rivers with fishery resources. Most of the farmers are currently engaged in subsistence food agriculture.
Anthony Nkinzo, the general manager of the National Agency for Investment Promotion, said there is need for strong commitment and responsibility to rebuild the country's image as well as attract more foreign investors.
"We anticipate for DR Congo with access to healthcare for all, education and training as well as improved infrastructure and a win-win public-private pact to grow the country's economy," Nkinzo said.
Mahamadou Issoufou, the president of Niger, Ellen Johnson, the former president of Liberia and Dramani Mahama, the former president of Ghana, were some of the dignitaries who attended the forum.
Nicole Sulu, the founder of Makutano network which is behind the forum, said attendance by the distinguished guests was an indication of a new era for African dialogue.
She said the DR Congo is key for Africa's development because of its strategic location and natural wealth.
The DR Congo is endowed with large mineral resources and has potential to install up to 100,000 MW of hydropower capacity, according to the United States Agency for International Development.
The central African country is endowed with an abundance of rare mineral resources like diamond, gold, copper, cobalt, zinc, manganese and coltan. The country also has very rich forest resources.