Nicolas Maeterlinck

Young people, women, forest protection at the heart of a new development aid deal between Belgium and DR Congo

After what have been several difficult years for relations between Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the two countries will sign the new development aid deal on Monday. The deal focuses on youth, women, forest protection and good governance. It is worth 250 million euro and was announced on Saturday morning by the Federal Development Aid Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist). 

The last cooperation agreement between the two countries dates back to 2010. After a period of sometimes strained relations, there has been a rapprochement between Brussels and Kinshasa since Felix Tshisekedi came to power in 2019. The new development aid programme is worth 50 million euro per annum from 2023 to 2027.

The programme focusses on young people and women in DR Congo. In addition to projects that will guide young people towards basic education, vocational training, decent jobs and entrepreneurship, the program will also focus on making health care physically and financially accessible and also focus on combating the issue of sexual violence. Other priorities include the protection of Congo's forests and good governance.

The Belgian Development Aid Minister told VRT News that "With this programme, Belgium and Congo aim to look to the future together. Almost half of the Congolese population is under 15, 68% is under 25, there is enormous potential there. We want to give as many young Congolese people as possible the opportunity to receive an education, to find a good job or to start their own business. Investing in Congolese youth is investing in a sustainable and prosperous future for the whole country.”

Everything will become official when the deal is signed on Monday by Frank Vandenbroucke and his Congolese counterpart Christophe Lutundula Apala.

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