"Contrary to popular belief, the DRC is rich in not only resources but also in skill. Local companies invest a lot in training and to ensure their employees are up to date with the latest technology."
How has Minequip evolved since its establishment in 2008?
Minequip is a subsidiary of the Lusanga group, originally based in Zambia, specialising in technical mechanical services as well as the distribution of renowned mining equipment brands such as Atlas Copco and Lincoln, which we are the sole distributors for. We are currently negotiating the addition of a new segment to our portfolio to be finalised before the end of 2021.
The gap in the Congolese mining market for quality mining equipment motivated us to start Minequip. The mining industry in the DRC differs to the Zambian industry, so we tailored our service and product offering to the market.
How does the Congolese market differ to the Zambian market for mining equipment?
International companies in Zambia and the DRC do not operate in the same manner. For example, mining companies are more likely to subcontract parts of their operations in the DRC relative to Zambia. The reason for that being the expertise of the Congolese population in certain industries, however Zambia has a higher quality of technicians. It is also more difficult for expats in Zambia to obtain work permits. Overall, the DRC offers more opportunities in the mining industry compared to Zambia, as the Zambian market is saturated.
How has the pandemic impacted your operations?
We had to postpone some plans such as our new workshop and office space, in addition to dealing with delays in shipments faced due to the closures in South Africa. We had big plans for 2020 which were revisited as survival became the main priority. Fortunately, since September the economy and the mining industry started recovering, as we saw mining companies resume projects they had put on hold. Since over 90% of our clients are mining companies, our operations are directly proportional to the copper price, hence a huge impact was felt when the copper price fell as a result of decreasing Chinese demand.
To what extent does Minequip face Chinese competition in the market?
The presence of Chinese suppliers is evident and is a threat to our business. The brands we promote and distribute are either American or European, which compete with Chinese-made products and technology. Even though China has been present in the DRC since the 1970s, over the last decade, we saw a large increase in the number of Chinese subcontracting companies as well as Chinese ownership of mines, making the DRC China's fifth largest investment destination in Africa. China claims to pursue a win-win relation with the DRC and entered with a promise to break the cycle of exploitative relationships, however the public is sceptical.
How is Minequip positioning itself in the market in the next three years?
We look forward to finalising the agreement to represent a large cooperation in the DRC and adding their products to our portfolio, which is expected to increase our turnover by at least 200%. In the upcoming years, we wish to expand our presence around the country and continue investing in our staff.
Do you have a final message to our international audience?
Contrary to popular belief, the DRC is rich in not only resources but also in skill. Local companies invest a lot in training and to ensure their employees are up to date with the latest technology. The recently implemented subcontracting law allowed Congolese companies to prove their competence, as it reserved the subcontracting market in all sectors of the economy for companies that are majority-owned by Congolese nationals. For example, in the past welding was conducted by Filipinos, now more locals are replacing foreigners across the country, therefore the law reinforced the country’s local content.