"Universities in the DRC now offer excellent engineering programs, in addition to classes in secondary schools that enhance technical skills."
How does ITM attempt to bridge the skill gap in the countries it is present?
When ITM was created in 2011, its main objective was to develop training programs needed to increase technical expertise of staff. The increase of foreign stakeholders in the market presented an opportunity for us to bridge the skills gap for local and foreign teams to reach their common goals.
ITM therefore offers technical and soft skills training thanks to its rich database of trainers in different fields, including mining, which is our core industry in the DRC. In order to develop our offering further, we also started focusing on recruitment. We strive to hire and train the best talent, bringing the solutions needed on the African continent.
As a new entrant to the DRC market, what would be my main concern as a foreign company?
The DRC is a challenging competitive market, so a new entrant must invest in marketing to raise awareness of the product and target a niche in the market. ITM supports new investors by first conducting an assessment to analyse the company’s viability as well as its competitive advantages, such as a certain technological advancement or any other. We mainly support foreign investors as they establish their commercial entity by ensuring that the lengthy legal processes run smoothly. Additionally, we offer to represent new businesses through our trained workforce based on our understanding of the social and economic constraints.
Does the new mining code in the DRC address transfer of skill to the Congolese population?
The new mining code reinforces local content requirements in the DRC. It supports the rise of Congolese SMEs through the subcontracting act by promoting local procurement. However, long-term growth is more driven by human capital that complements physical capital accumulation. Universities in the DRC now offer excellent engineering programs, in addition to classes in secondary schools that enhance technical skills. Nonetheless, the skill-gap exists partly due to the conflict that ended in 2003, which forced many skilled Congolese professionals to move abroad. For this nation to develop, Congolese nationals abroad should consider returning.
How has the DRC’s experience with Ebola helped it in combatting the outbreak of COVID-19?
The DRC’s success in containing Ebola greatly helped the country with the current pandemic, as the two outbreaks present significant similarities. The measures that were initially put in place to counter Ebola, mainly handwashing and social distancing, played an important role in the fight against Covid-19.
Both outbreaks emphasize the need to invest in essential healthcare to develop the nation’s capacity. Nonetheless, the DRC’s contact tracing programs ranks highly relative to other African countries, and is adopted from Ebola.
What are ITM Holding’s expansion plans in Africa in the upcoming years?
The ITM headquarters in the DRC will continue to supervise operations across the continent. Our goal is to become the leading business solutions service provider in Africa. To reach this goal we plan to penetrate the continent by 2021, by establishing a West and East Africa division, then later strategically establish in North and Southern Africa. Our expansion plans are based on business opportunities and a thorough study of markets’ potential. Jurisdictions such as Ghana, Guinea and Kenya have caught our attention; we are therefore exploring our options to tackle those markets.