Kenyan companies head to DRC in search of bigger markets

East Africa

Kenyan companies head to DRC in search of bigger markets

Avenue du 30 juin, the main street in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. PICTURES | ADONIJA NDEGE | NMG

Audit and consultancy firm BDO East Africa is set to start operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in October, joining a growing number of Kenyan firms settling in the newest member state of the African Community from the east.

The largely untapped DRC market has recently attracted more than 20 Kenyan companies that have set up shop or committed to making business investments. The largest entrant is Equity Group, which acquired Banque Commerciale du Congo in 2020, after taking over ProCredit in the same market to create its subsidiary EquityBCDC.

Growing demand

BDO’s entry now signals that companies offering professional business support services are beginning to follow their trade and manufacturing counterparts in the DRC, hoping to help them navigate the country’s legal, tax and regulatory environment.

BDO East Africa Managing Director Sandeep Khapre said there is a growing demand for such services from companies establishing business operations in the DRC, as well as existing Congolese companies that had no no access to such services before.

“We have experience in setting up operations in new territories that have provided customers with access to the latest financial services solutions that are becoming increasingly necessary to help them navigate a growing business landscape. constant evolution. Our soon-to-open Kinshasa office will offer these solutions to clients,” Mr. Khapre said.

BDO East Africa is part of BDO International, a global network of accounting firms operating in 167 countries. In the East Africa region, the company has offices in offices in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

The companies’ decision to locate in the DRC mirrors what happened when South Sudan gained independence in 2011 and later joined the EAC, attracting regional capital as companies sought to take advantage of the market emerging in an oil-based economy.

However, civil unrest has hurt prospects for businesses in South Sudan, including banks that have suffered high rates on non-performing loans.

In 2014, KCB closed three branches in South Sudan after the outbreak of war, while Equity Bank closed seven of its 12 branches in the country in 2017.

The DRC has also experienced conflict but enjoys relative calm in most major cities and a large market of 90 million people.

Improving tax systems

In April, a trade mission organized by the governments of Kenya and the DRC in partnership with Equity Group saw 26 Kenyan companies committing to invest up to $1.6 billion (189 billion shillings) in the DRC.

Equity Group revealed that Rentco Africa Limited, Optiven Group, Greenlight Planet Limited, Jumbo Foam Limited, BIDCO, Geomaps and Nyanja Associates were among those who made the pledges.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said his government would put in place reforms to protect investments, improve the legal and security environment, and improve tax systems to allow the movement of goods in and out. outside the DRC and access to loans for economic cooperators.

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