RUBAVU - Officials from the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL) member states of Rwanda, Burundi and DRC, along with experts from Belgium and the African Development Bank (AfDB), are meeting in the Congolese town of Goma to discuss the possibility of reviving the defunct regional development Bank, BDEGL.
According to Liliane Gashumba, the deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), the regional bank collapsed in 1993 as a result of conflicts amongst member countries.
“These conflicts forced the bank to suspend its operations. But now we are discussing the modalities of reopening it,” Gashumba said.
Created on September 9, 1977, the Goma-based BDEGL became operational in 1980 with 73 % of the shares from three member states. The Belgian government owned 18% while AfDB had 9% of shares.
DR Congo (then known as Zaïre) reportedly failed to pay $50 million debt which sources say the government is lobbying to have cancelled.
During yesterday’s meeting, sources said experts from Belgium told the meeting that there is need for serious reforms and commitment from members before reopening the bank.
According to the source, the AfDB is committed to supporting small and medium enterprises once the bank reopens.
“Drawing lessons from previous experiences, there should be a way of regulation and debt recovery should the bank reopen,” the AfDB advised.
BDEGL contributed to the achievement of common projects like the glass manufacturer, VERRUDI in Burundi, the Ruzizi power plant that is managed by the SINELAC and studies on the exploitation of methane gas in Lake Kivu.
Yesterday finance ministers from Rwanda, Burundi and DRC were expected to come up with concrete resolutions but details had not yet emerged by press time.