Cablegate: Cepgl Staff Describe Regional Groupings to Special

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1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Economic Community of Great Lakes
Countries (CEPGL) senior staff on November 10 briefed U.S.
Great Lakes Special Advisor Dr. Howard Wolpe on CEPGL
activities in the areas of peace and security, energy, and
transportation, as well as on how the CEPGL coordinates with
other regional groupings-something done through regular
meetings, under the auspices of the UN Economic Commission
for Africa. Since the CEPGL resumed operations in 2007
(after a 14-year hiatus), the EU has been the primary
external donor, providing 5m euros so far to the CEPGL's
operating budget. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) SA Wolpe and Ambassador met on November 10 in
Gisenyi with CEPGL executive secretary-general Amb. Gabriel
Toyi (a Burundian) and deputy secretaries-general Liliane
Gashumba (a Rwandan) and Alphonse Ntumba Luaba (a Congolese).
DOS officer Adam Keith and polcouns also attended. The tone
of the meeting was cordial.

Regional Organizations
3. (SBU) Toyi noted that countries in the region belonged to
a wide range of groupings, such as CEPGL, SADC, EAC, COMESA,
CEEAC, and the Nile Basin Initiative, but explained that each
organization had its own complementary missions, and that
member countries held coordination meetings on a regular
basis. The UN Economic Commission for Africa, which has a
regional office in Kigali headed by a Mozambican, has
convened such meetings on a twice-yearly basis since 2007.
All the aforementioned organizations took part, except SADC.
The most recent meeting was in April 2009, in the Seychelles;
the next will take place November 30-December 2 in Kigali.

4.(SBU) CEPGL: According to Toyi, Rwanda, Burundi and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) created the CEPGL in
1976. It became defunct in 1993 due to wars in the region,
but the three countries revived the organization in 2007.
The CEPGL, headquartered in Gisenyi, focuses on five areas of
activity: 1) peace, security, democracy and good governance;
2) agriculture and food security; 3) energy, infrastructure
and communications; 4) education and research; and 5) public
and private investments. Toyi understands Uganda may want to
join, added that the CEPGL both allows and would welcome
this, but noted that Uganda has not formally applied. "We
think it would be a good idea," he continued, if even
Tanzania or Zambia were to join. (Note: During his visit to
Uganda, Special advisor Wolpe asked the Ugandan officials if
they desired entry into CEPGL. They indicated they did not
and, in any event, had not been invited. End Note.)

5. (SBU) COMESA: The Common Market for Eastern and Southern
Africa (COMESA), formed in 1994 and headquartered in Lusaka,
started as a preferential-trade zone. Now, Toyi said, it
addressed issues such as customs and non-tariff barriers
among its approximately 20 members, and had begun to move
into other areas such as infrastructure. Its main focus,
however, remains commerce.

6. (SBU) EAC: The East African Community (EAC), Toyi
explained, was different because its goal is to form a
supranational political union, with a single market and free
movement of goods, services and people. He stressed that
member states are serious about achieving political union.
There is an ongoing public education campaign about the EAC,
to which the public has responded favorably; the EAC has a
Qto which the public has responded favorably; the EAC has a
functioning legislative assembly and a court system at
Arusha; the EAC also has a sizeable administration also at
Arusha that convenes monthly meetings; and each member state
has its own EAC Affairs minister.

7. (SBU) Nile Basin Initiative: This organization focuses on
energy (especially hydro power and transmission lines),
agriculture and environment, and water management. A
Congolese citizen heads the organization, whose headquarters
are in Entebbe.

8. (SBU) CEEAC: Like the CEPGL, the Economic Community of
Central African States (CEEAC) was concerned with peace and
security, agriculture, and infrastructure, as well as trade
and development. CEEAC members include the DRC, Burundi,
CAR, Gabon, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, and Chad; Rwanda
left the organization in 2007. The CEEAC is headquartered at

9. (SBU) At the twice-yearly coordination meetings, the

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different groups compare and coordinate planned activities,
in order to avoid duplication and decide which organization
is best suited to take the lead on a given project. For
example, because the CEPGL, CEEAC, EAC and Nile Basin
Initiative were all involved in planning the interconnection
of power transmission lines, members decided to assign that
responsibility to the Nile Basin Initiative. "The key point
for donors," Toyi said, "is that it is not bad to have many
different organizations, pursuing different but coordinated
activities" to help the region develop.

CEPGL Activities and Issues
10. (SBU) According to Toyi, the EU is the CEPGL's main
donor, having in 2007 signed an agreement to provide 50m
euros, 5m of which have been disbursed so far. The Belgians
promised 3m euros a year starting in 2010, but have not yet
disbursed any, and France promised 500,000 euros by the end
of 2009 to pay for institutional support and technical
assistance (NFI). The CEPGL met with DFID, but the UK has
not provided or promised any funding. When asked about the
CEPGL's operating budget, Toyi said it was 1.5m euros during
the previous budget year (NFI), but would rise to 4m euros
for the next year-the difference due in part to the fact that
Congolese colleagues had only recently rejoined the
organization. The CEPGL's budget was likely to increase in
future years, due to the number of anticipated projects.

11. (SBU) In the area of peace and security, the CEPGL helped
facilitate communication among its members. CEPGL defense
ministers and military chiefs met in Goma in July 2009, Toyi
noted, and military intelligence chiefs decided they should
meet every six months. Ntumba Luaba reiterated this point,
adding that members were planning to hold the next meeting of
defense ministers and military chiefs in Kigali, before
year's end. Experts from the three countries were discussing
a mutual defense pact, he added, and provincial governors
(NFI) met recently in Bukavu to discuss joint border
patrols--an activity that might benefit from USG support. In
addition, Toyi noted that the three countries planned to hold
a meeting within a few weeks to exchange lessons learned on
demobilization of ex-combatants.

12. (SBU) According to Toyi, CEPGL countries also agreed to
open their borders to each others' citizens, 24 hours a day.
Already, 8000 people cross the Goma/Gisenyi border daily.
The checkpoint there closes at midnight and reopens at
6:00a.m., but it will "soon" move to 24 hours operations, he
said. Instability and insecurity in the DRC would not affect
this, because such problems were "far from the border." Toyi
added that the CEPGL also planned to organize in December or
January a meeting on border demarcation, to address
unresolved issues along the Burundi-Rwanda border, the
Burundi-DRC border, and the Rwanda-DRC border near

13. (SBU) Energy remained a main focus of the CEPGL,
especially two planned hydroelectric projects on the Rusizi
River, known as Rusizi III and IV. The EU in 2007 provided
2.8m euros to pay for feasibility studies, which a German
firm is due to complete in the next three months. The total
construction cost for the two plants is estimated at $800m.
Another project under study by a Rwandan-Congolese pilot
QAnother project under study by a Rwandan-Congolese pilot
committee was the planned joint Rwandan-Congolese
exploitation of methane gas in Lake Kivu, which would provide
over 200MW of electricity to the CEPGL power grid. The
Government of the DRC, said Ntumba Luaba, viewed Rwanda's
existing methane gas pilot project as a "positive
experience." (Note: Both the proposed joint project and
Rwanda's own pilot project are separate from a larger project
currently under construction in Rwanda by U.S. private firm
Contour Global. End Note.) Declaring that "energy is a huge
need in all three countries," Toyi said CEPGL member
countries planned to ask for donor support to help finance
such projects.

14. (SBU) Regarding transportation infrastructure, Toyi said
CEPGL members were considering several bridge projects
linking their three countries, as well as a road from Gisenyi
to the port of Goma (the EU is funding this study) and a road
along the route Bujumbura-Cyangugu-Gisenyi-Goma (study
completed and paid for by African Development Bank, or AfDB).
This last link would cost an estimated $350m, with $100m
promised so far by the AfDB. As for railroad tracks, Toyi
said the CEPGL planned to focus on extending a future line

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from Kigali to Gisenyi, Goma, and Kisangani, adding that the
EAC was addressing the more easterly connection to Kigali.
(Note: Neither Rwanda nor Burundi is linked by rail. End

15. (SBU) Finally, another prospective project is the revival
of the CEPGL's development bank, which was due to officially
reopen in late November but needed recapitalization because
of non-performing loans mostly made in the DRC. Toyi said
the he expected capital would come from Belgium, the AfDB,
and the three member countries, and the CEPGL hoped that the
USG, Sweden and Germany would in the future provide funds as

16. (SBU) Responding to Dr. Wolpe's question about why the
DRC had been slow to rejoin the CEPGL, Ntumba Luaba explained
that Congolese living outside the Kivus did not see any
benefit in it. The Congolese government was now supportive,
but more needed to be done to promote the CEPGL among
Congolese in the rest of the country. "People think events
in eastern Congo caused western Congo to suffer," he said.
To address this, the CEPGL was notionally planning student
and teacher exchanges between the three countries-university
rectors had already met recently. Also, drawing on the
Franco-German experience, it might be worthwhile to set up a
volunteer corps of youths from the Great Lakes countries, to
create joint teams that could work together for a year or two
"to help rebuild what we destroyed together" and improve
mutual understanding.

17. (SBU) CEPGL leaders are eager for USG support or
assistance; post will continue to engage with them and work
to identify possible discrete areas--beyond simply providing
funds--where we can make a difference. Absent from the
CEPGL's discourse was any mention of the private sector
funding or public-private partnerships; we will continue to
nudge their thinking in this direction as well. End Comment.

18. (SBU) Dr. Wolpe cleared this cable before transmission.

© Scoop Media

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