Endless export opportunities in the DRC

19 Sep, 2021 - 00:09 0 Views
Endless export opportunities in the DRC

The Sunday Mail

Trade Focus
Allan Majuru

KINSHASA is one of the busiest cities in Africa, boasting of the largest urban population in the Democratic Republic of Congo that is used to a fast life and a high buying power.

When one enters a simple retail shop in the city centre, the products on the shelves talk of a population that has a huge taste for exotic products.

It appears as if everything is imported.

From common products such as water, clothes, and food, to luxurious furniture, the Kinshasa market imports supplies from across the world.

Although the market has this high potential, Zimbabwean businesses are still to increase the visibility of their products.

This is despite the fact that Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have a long and sound political relationship.

In fact, there is general appreciation for Zimbabweans in most parts of DRC as the two countries share a long history of cooperation.

This makes it a potential rewarding market for Zimbabwean products and services.

Currently, major products being exported from Zimbabwe to DRC include coke and semi-coke of coal and similar solid fuels manufactured from coal, packaging material of plastics, stoppers, lids, maize or corn.

Other export products include ferrous products obtained by direct reduction of iron ore and other spongy ferrous products, appliances for pipes, boiler shells, tanks, cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes of tobacco and clothing material.

These products have contributed to the increase in Zimbabwe’s exports to DRC, which have grown from US$2, 8 million in 2016 to US$37 million in 2020.

Although there is a trade growth, there is potential to quadruple these figures in a few years, riding on areas Zimbabwe enjoys competitive advantage.

What is important is for Zimbabwean producers to establish strong links with businesses in Kinshasa, who will act as local representation in the market.

Efforts are already underway from Government and related institutions to forge strong business relations between local companies and the rest of the region under the economic diplomacy agenda being pursued by President Mnangagwa’s Second Republic.

Under this agenda, ZimTrade recently organised an Outward Seller Mission held from September 14 to 16.

During the event, the Zimbabwe’s business delegation was encouraged to take advantage of the diversified Kinshasa market that offers opportunities across sectors.

The Kinshasa Outward Trade Mission was conducted as a follow-up to another mission which was held in Lubumbashi in May this year.

The Lubumbashi mission generated a lot of interest from Congolese companies who confirmed orders worth US$13 million during the event.

The positive results from the Lubumbashi mission indicated more untapped potential in Kinshasa in sectors such as processed foods, horticulture, agricultural inputs and implements, and services sectors.

What will be discussed in this article are a few examples but the potential cuts across all economic sectors in Zimbabwe.

Processed foods

As the manufacturing sector in Kinshasa is not advanced, the city has had to import most of its products from across the world.

A recent market scan conducted during the just ended Kinshasa Outward Seller Mission organised by ZimTrade revealed huge potential for processed foods for both large and small exporters.

To illustrate this potential, some retailers in Kinshasa are importing bottled mineral water from as far as Italy.

This is the same with sweets, yogurt, biscuits, cheese, tinned foods and most processed foods that are imported from Europe, Americas and Asia. Some of the products with potential include peanut butter, honey, sugar, cooking oil, bathing soap, sweets, and washing soap.

Dairy products, tinned foods, bottled water, snacks also have potential in Kinshasa.

For Zimbabwean companies that enjoy the advantage of distance, and regional trade relations, the potential for their products to land in the market with a competitive price is even bigger.


Despite Zimbabwe producing some of the top blueberries in Africa and beyond, some retailers in Kinshasa are importing elsewhere.

Some horticultural produces in Kinshasa retail markets are imported as far as Europe, Asia and the Americas.

All horticultural produces, particularly fresh produce and fruits, currently being exported by Zimbabwean farmers have potential to perform well in Kinshasa.


Kinshasa, just like the rest of DRC has been moving towards modernising the agriculture sector and this creates opportunities for Zimbabwean companies to supply appropriate technologies.

Required products that local businesses can supply include hand-held farming equipment, tractors, cultivators, and planters.

In addition, a survey by ZimTrade indicated that most of the rural small-holder farmers do not have livestock such as cattle or donkeys to provide animal-drawn implements.

This deficit therefore presents an opportunity for Zimbabwe to consider both livestock and agricultural implement exports.

Related to this, there is a growing interest in animal husbandry in DRC, which is creating opportunities especially in poultry farming.

DRC imports some of its meat products from as far as Europe and local companies have a competitive advantage that can make it easy for them to take over the market.

For agricultural produce, there is potential to supply tobacco, meat, sugar, cereals, cotton, vegetable, fats and oils, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables. There are also opportunities for agriculture inputs and supplements, focusing on smallholder farmers as well as established commercial farmers.

Building and construction

As Kinshasa is modernising, several construction projects are seen throughout the city and these show huge potential for Zimbabwean products. Contractors already have high regard for Zimbabwean products, which are considered strong and reliable and local producers can ride on this to increase exports.

Zimbabwean products with potential include door frames, window frames, floor tiles, fence, roofing tiles, bricks, PVC pipes, door frames, gum poles, timber, fasteners, bathroom boutique products and electrical products.

Services offered in the building and construction sector, including engineering services also have potential in Kinshasa.


As Kinshasa is the capital of DRC, it is home to most headquarters of companies that control the country’s mining sector.

If local companies make inroads in the city, they have an opportunity to unlock potential across all provinces with mining activities.

Products with potential include capital plant equipment for comminution such as primary and secondary crushers, flotation cells, gearless drives, grinder mills, classifiers and concentrators.

Other capital plant equipment required by the mines include separators, material handling feeders, mine ventilation, draglines, tyres, mining support vehicles, drills and earth moving equipment and power generation machinery.

Also required in the mines are electrical equipment and consumables that include transformers, electric motors, cables, batteries, ventilation fans and general electrical consumables.

Mines with active projects for exploration are interested in structural steel and cement as well as materials used for processes that include aluminium powder, ammonia, anodes and cathode, caustic soda, coal and cobalt sulphate.

The mining sector in the country also requires protective clothing that Zimbabwean clothing companies can supply.

Products with potential include overalls, work suits safety boots, gloves, helmets, and eye protection equipment such as safety goggles.

Zimbabwean companies are already producing competitive and quality PPEs in the form of overalls, work suits, gloves, masks, aprons, dust coats and reflective clothing items.

By comparison to products coming from other countries, the quality of Zimbabwe-produced protective clothing is high and preferred by most companies.

Buyers from DRC to visit Zimbabwe

A follow-up Inward Buyer Mission has been arranged to take part on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair that will start on 21 September.

The DRC Business Forum which will be held in Bulawayo 22 September is expected to open business opportunities by matchmaking business from the two countries, providing a platform for identifying and solving impediments affecting trade between the two countries.

A total of six buyers will be part of the Governor of Lubumbashi, His Excellency Mr Acques Kyabula Katwe’s business delegation to Zimbabwe.

As part of the forum programme, the visiting delegation will be take a tour of companies in Bulawayo and Harare to familiarise themselves with the capacity of exporters in Zimbabwe.


Allan Majuru is the ZimTrade chief executive.


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