“Maybe it’s time we level the playing field and get compensated,” said Mr Mpanu.
Many Congolese officials believe that after decades of colonialism and political mismanagement, their country’s needs should take precedence over the world’s.
For President Tshisekedi, establishing his nation as a bulwark against global warming has met with political reality. The next presidential election in the country is 18 months from now, but the jostling has already started with Mr Tshisekedi running for a new term. In 2018, he was declared the winner of a highly controversial election. He struck a deal with his predecessor, the unpopular but still powerful Joseph Kabila, who was labeled corrupt by Western officials. The pair’s settlement fell apart in 2020, but some analysts warn that Kabila or his cronies could get in the mood at a time when foreign investment is pouring into the country.
How much compensation is at stake for Congo will not be known until seismic surveys are carried out – a very destructive process in itself, according to scientists.
In May, Didier Budimbu, Congo’s minister of hydrocarbons, said that the country, which is currently about 25,000 barrels of oil per day, had the potential to produce up to 1 million barrels. At current prices, that’s the equivalent of $32 billion a year, more than half of Congo’s GDP.