Congo-Kinshasa: Goma’s Aid Economy a Blessing and Curse.

Filed under: News In English |

Goma-(BM)-As construction workers put the final touches on a five-story apartment-hotel complex in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) city of Goma, foreman Lucien told IRIN its future occupants would likely not be locals.

“Here in Goma, hotels are in very high demand because many aid workers come because of the violence here. They have nowhere to stay when they arrive because hotels are always normally fully booked,” he said.

This expatriate demographic has shaped more than Goma’s skyline: few cities in the world have had their economies affected quite as extensively – and, some argue, with such mixed blessings – by the international humanitarian industry as the capital of North Kivu province.

“Goma’s business people rent out transportation and housing services to NGOs. These NGOs hire labour force and provide for part of their procurement locally. This represents an important turnover, which translates into more businesses, including new buildings, hotels, cars, etc.,” Fidel Bafilemba, a researcher with the Enough Project, told IRIN.

Oscar Kambale, 34, who runs a fleet of vehicles that he leases out both to NGO workers and other foreign visitors, told IRIN his business is booming.

“There is no day passing by without me getting a phone call about somebody looking for a car to hire. They will tell you they want to visit the many internally displaced persons’ camps around Goma. For a whole day, I will charge between US$100 and $120. It a brisk business for me,” he said.

“At times I have to borrow cars from my friends to bridge the deficit when mine are all leased out,” he added.

On any given evening, the car parks of some of Goma’s most popular nightclubs are largely occupied by 4X4 vehicles bearing either registration plates of the UN or the insignia of aid organizations.

“We have to keep this place clean, and we have priced our beers high because we are mostly targeting foreigners who are working for non-governmental organizations,” Fabrice, a doorman at Chez Ntemba, told IRIN.

Driving the economy

Waves of conflict over the past two decades have led to the presence of some 500 aid agencies in North Kivu. Around 100 of them are international; the rest depend largely on foreign funding. In 2012, the UN and its partners appealed for $718 million to meet humanitarian needs in DRC, much of it for programmes in the east.

The growth of the humanitarian presence in Goma has led to a high demand for housing, shopping malls, private car hire and other amenities.


Source Allafrica.

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