DR Congo and Kenya agree to jointly investigate the drastic increase in illegal trade of gold and other naturally occuring minerals.
This follows the recent death of a Kenyan Revenue Authority officer Joseph Cheptarus who was investigating the gold smuggling case.
Meanwhile Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere had pledged to flawlessly investigate the murder.
Bloomberg announces that Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Congolese President Joseph Kabila had met in Nairobi yesterday to disucss further about this joint investigation.
The joint investigation is said to work together with the respective investigation teams working in both the nations.
The Congolese government is pleased with Kenya’s support in this endeavour. The war torn country has been struggling to keep the illicit trade under control.
The nations also discussed about the ways to increase trade between the two countries. Both the nations are active members of Common market for eastern and southern Africa. (COMESA)
Even issues on bilateral cooperation and security were given needed attention. The meeting was also attended by several Kenyan bureaucrats like Prime Minister Raila Odigna, Minister for Foreign Affairs Professor George Saitoti, Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura.
Minsiter of Regional Cooperation Raymond Tshibanda and Minister for Mines Martin Kabwelulu were the dignified Congolese ministers who were also present in the discussion.
The illegal exploitation of several naturally occuring minerals along the Great lake region tends to be the greatest concern.
As DR Congo’s economy is mostly based on mining, the illegal trade is further aggravating the issues.
Last week, 2.5 metric tons of gold was smuggled from Congo to the few East African countries. According to Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu, 2.5 tonnes of gold equals to $104 million.
The Mines ministry reveals that around 80 percent of Congo’s gold is smuggled yearly. Investigations show that Kenya is used as a hub for the illegal export of gold and other precious metals.
The International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) has been already requested to probe into the illegal smugglings and track the consignments which occur through their transit in Kenya.
According to the ministry, Congo is still recovering from years of war and conflicts while the armed groups in the country are engrossed in earning through illegal gold trade. The government is trying hard to cut the links between armed forces and illegal trades. Mining in the eastern region of Congo was banned to restrict illegal mining.
The authorities suspect that the huge money earned by selling minerals in the black market is used for fuel fighting and purchasing weapons in the volatile region of Congo.
Congo’s security forces had caught 400 kg of gold and $6 million cash at the airport in Goma, the capital of the North Kivu province. This international airport is turning into a hub for such illegal trades.
President Kibaki has also increased the trade screenings at the various import and export centres in the country. The respective custom officials have been alerted regarding the illegal shipments which have been occuring for a while.