Why partnering with the private sector on conservation is critical for development in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The environmental and natural resource management challenges facing Central Africa are more complex than ever before. By harnessing private sector innovation and forming multi-disciplinary partnerships, Resonance supports countries in the Central Africa region and globally to solve complex natural resource and environmental problems in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a stark contradiction of natural wealth and human poverty; where economic potential and economic reality have yet to meet. The DRC is comprised of two worlds. The natural world is one of concentrated wealth: cobalt, copper, diamonds, oil, and massive carbon stocks stored in the world’s second largest forest basin and biodiversity hotspot. The poorest and hungriest people on earth live in the human world; a world afflicted by poverty, conflict, food insecurity, and lack of opportunity.

There are a number of challenges affecting natural resource governance in the DRC, including misaligned and unenforced natural resource management policies, which can impact the country’s ability to conserve biodiversity and protect livelihoods. If current trends continue, the DRC could lose the opportunity to translate its natural wealth into development gains, compromise SDGs goals, and threaten the Congo Basin, one of the most important assets we have to combat climate change globally.

The private sector has a pivotal role to play in solving these interconnected environmental and development challenges in the DRC and across Central Africa. As development financing is increasingly constrained and government capacity stretched, private sector partnerships are able to drive and sustain development outcomes and support countries on their path to self-reliance. But catalyzing innovative private sector partnerships in countries like the DRC can be time-consuming and difficult, as weak governance, political instability, and high costs can serve as deterrents.

Drawing from our knowledge of the Central African landscape, Resonance is helping donors and governments in the DRC form private sector partnerships that tackle biodiversity and conservation challenges in order to advance the country’s larger development goals and sustain impact. Key to this is cultivating a sense of shared value between the public and private sectors, where companies see public sector development objectives as an opportunity for business innovation and growth.

In 2019, Resonance supported the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Central Africa by engaging over 500 potential partners in the region and identifying areas for collaboration, partnerships, and enterprise-driven solutions. Over a ten-month period, Resonance provided USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) with private sector engagement guidance, analysis, and mentorship, and convened the DRC’s first ever private sector partnership co-creation workshop. Over 60 private-sector actors met with international NGOs, civil society, and research and government institutions to discuss conservation and economic development in the DRC. USAID Regional Natural Resource Management and Climate Change Advisor, Nicodeme Tchamou, reiterated the importance of the workshop in supporting USAID to form the future partnerships needed to push development in the DRC forward.

“I was impressed by the way [the workshop] induced partnership development,” Tchamou said. “I have received several emails and phone calls every day since the workshop ended. There is a lot of enthusiasm. I look forward to continued support as USAID moves in this unprecedented direction; engaging the private sector in its endeavor of biodiversity conservation through economic development in the Congo Basin.”

Resonance has replicated partnership models across Africa. In Tanzania, Resonance created and is managing five private sector water partnerships that are improving water infrastructure investment, creating water treatment and sanitation products, and using smart meters for water delivery. Our smart meter partner, eWATERpay, uses award winning technology that allows community members to pre-pay for water and water managers to track functionality of water systems through a digital dashboard. These pilots are serving over 23,000 people and have increased monthly revenues for one local water board by 15%.

In East Africa, Resonance developed a public-private alliance involving Safaricom, AirTel, the World Wildlife Fund, and the African Wildlife Fund to develop an SMS and GIS platform that enabled quick and accurate reporting of poaching in USAID activity landscapes. This system allowed citizens to report illegal activity in real-time and improves the response and coordination of conservation organizations and law enforcement agencies.

Resonance supports governments and donors—like USAID—in forming private sector partnerships that tackle the world’s toughest development challenges. To learn more about our private sector and global development work visit: www.resonanceglobal.com