Arise IIP plans to open a manufacturing zone in the Democratic Republic of Congo focusing on timber processing, consumer goods and pharmaceuticals, expanding its footprint in central and West Africa. Construction of the $200 million, 500-hectare development outside Kinshasa, the capital, is set to start in October, according to Chief Executive Officer Gagan Gupta. Arise, based in Dubai, is expecting investments in the industrial park of about $650 million, with companies from China, Malaysia, India,
Dubai and other countries showing an interest.
Congo has very good timber availability, but most of it is exported raw,” Gupta said in a phone interview on Friday. “A key focus is ensuring that the value addition happens on timber. We
already have three companies that are very keen to establish an industry in the timber sector.”
Congo is home to two-thirds of the world’s second-largest rainforest. Its formal export of forest products, mainly timber, was valued at $110 million in
2018, according Forest Trends, a
Washington-based non-profit group.
The project will be Arise’s fourth in Africa after opening manufacturing zones in Gabon, Togo and Benin.
The zone — a join venture with Congo’s government — may help reduce the illegal exports that have stifled the nation’s logging industry. Last year, authorities said they intended to ban all timber shipments to reduce the threats to its carbon- absorbing tropical rainforest, a major bulwark against climate change.
Arise’s zone in Gabon –- also a large timber producer and part of the Congo rainforest — already uses technology to limit the risk of illegal timber entering the value chain, said Gupta, formerly the managing director of Olam International in Gabon.
He expects the development to create as many as 20,000 jobs in a country where the International Monetary Fund estimates more than 70% of the 100 million population lives in poverty.
The manufacturing zone will also seek to meet increasing demand in the region for consumer goods. Arise is looking at opening its next industrial zone in Nigeria that would also focus on
producing household appliances.
“Congo and Nigeria both have massive consumer bases and high import of consumer goods,” Gupta said. “The key thing in Nigeria is to focus on what they consume locally, so again white goods and also processing of agriculture products.”Arise has signed deals for economic zones in Rwanda and the
Republic of Congo.