Cablegate: Congo-Brazzaville Response to Usitc
DE RUEHBZ #0257 2611105
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171105Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRAZZAVILLE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1156
INFO RUEHBZ/AMEMBASSY BRAZZAVILLE 1324
UNCLAS BRAZZAVILLE 000257
PASS TO USITC LSCHLITT; AF/C MASHRAF
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD ASEC CF
SUBJECT: CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE RESPONSE TO USITC
REF: STATE 85109
1. Embassy Brazzaville is an unclassified post. There are no
exports from Republic of Congo (RoC) in the products listed in
reftel to the U.S. at this time. Information provided follows
reftel request but as information on export processes is
difficult to obtain, the information following focuses on
infrastructural challenges to importing.
2. Physical infrastructure: Roads within the city limits of
both the capital Brazzaville and the economic port city of
Pointe Noire are in fair condition. There is no paved road
connecting these two major cities. A railway system that was
built in 1954 has not been maintained and transporting goods on
the railway is a lengthy process as the train travels between
the two cities only twice each week. Roadwork has been started
but there are no immediate plans to repair the existing railway
system. Imported goods are usually flown into Pointe Noire,
taken by truck to Matadi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC), loaded on barges for transport to Kinshasa, and then have
to be shipped over the Congo River for arrival in Brazzaville
RoC. B.L. Harbert, an American firm that is building a new U.S.
embassy reports that this process takes 37 days for goods to
reach Pointe Noire from the U.S., an additional 18 days to get
the container to Matadi, and another 32 days for a container to
arrive in Brazzaville. Exported goods, mainly timber from the
central region of Congo, is hampered by the same lack of
infrastructure and is taken out through Cameroon.
3. Freight forwarders, such as Maersk Lines, may handle the
shipment from the U.S. to Matadi. Once in Matadi, a French
company, SDV, takes over the freight shipment and each 40 foot
container costs approximately US$13,000 in freight charges from
Matadi to Brazzaville.
4. Port capability: The Port of Pointe Noire has 12 berths
and can handle 12 ships loading and off loading at one time.
Equipment used to load and off-load is dated, rusted, and in
poor condition. Harbert also reported many damaged containers
due to the lack of proper equipment. The Port would use tree
grapplers to 'grab' the containers and many were punctured in
the process. Delays are frequent due to equipment failure. Fuel
has been problematic lately also as the only refinery was closed
for an extensive period for repair.
5. Electricity: RoC currently generates 106 mega watts of
electricity in a country that requires a minimum of 421
gigawatt/hour. Electricity, sporadic at best, is purchased from
the neighboring DRC. The state-owned company Societe Nationale
d'Electricite (SNE) controls all electrical supply.
6. The RoC has very limited agricultural production.
Ninety-eight percent of all food products are imported. There is
no tourism sector in the RoC. U.S., French and Italian firms are
active in the oil sector in Pointe Noire.