Use ICTs to boost entrepreneurship, DRC youth told

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo

Young people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been told to use the information and communication technologies (ICTs) in their quest to boost their entrepreneurship initiatives.

Francis Botale, Frabot Group CEO, told participants of a youth forum held in the capital Kinshasa on Sunday to turn their status of job seekers into job creators, which they could only succeed by becoming entrepreneurs.

He urged them to get specifically in the micro-finance sector, which he said could take them further if they could use the ICTs.

But several young entrepreneurs – existing and upcoming – told Biztechafrica that they were facing challenges in their quest to make their dreams come true.

Ngindu Mavuela, who is working in a money transfer and small loans company said that he would like to own his micro-finance business one day. However, he said several obstacles are hampering his dream.

“Using ICTs to boost your business is not a problem, but the biggest problem is the high cost of acquiring this equipment,” he said.

“Okay, let’s say you manage to buy and install it. Where will electricity come from? We do have power outages and load-shedding every hour and every day that sometimes last up to two days,” he added.

That is why, he said, many micro-finance businessmen prefer working with a pen and book to avoid this huge challenge.

“Everything, including customers’ deposits and withdrawals and loans provided, is recorded in a big black book,” Desiré Lomboto, a small-scale loan provider, said. “I agree that ICTs could modernise our business and make us look serious and professional business people, but these frequent power outages really put us off.”

Despite boasting Inga, a hydropower resource that has the potential of becoming the world’s largest electricity source, the DRC continues to face enormous power challenges. Early this year, the World Bank agreed to invest a whopping US$73.1 million into the Inga3 project, the first phase of Grand Inga.

Some young people, however, said electricity challenges could be overcome if one has to buy a good generator. They believe that the main problem is having good IT equipment.

“Every computer, printer, fax machine, and so on that you see in the shops and markets of this country seems to be fake,” Eliane Moseka said.

“You buy one today, after four or six months it’s broken and you need to replace it. How much money do we make here to continually buying IT equipment?” Moseka asked.

“We need help from everyone who has got the business and IT expertise and the financial muscles to move forward. We cannot do this alone.”

Botale said that all the youth who attended the forum will receive all the information and support they need to help them promote their businesses.

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