On the last day of Black History Month, The Washington Diplomat’s Ambassador Insider Series hosted a thought-provoking dialogue with Ambassador Serge Mombouli of the Republic of Congo and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in the United States.
The event took place on Thursday, February 28, at the chancery of Congo, full of guests that include – Ambassadors from Mauritius, Malawi, Nicaragua, a former U.S. Ambassador to the African Union as well as members of the press, international development community and entrepreneurs interested in Congo.
The conversation was kicked off by managing editor Anna Gawel, as she provided a brief overview of the west-central African nation that focused on poor governance and conflict.
This led to Ambassador Mombouli pivoting the conversation by stating: “when it comes to Africa, let’s talk about the continent in the context of today, not yesterday. When we talk about the history of the United States, we don’t start discussing the civil war. So I expect the same for Africa.”
The tone was set as Ambassador Mombouli continued covering topics to include, investment, economic development, increasing representation of youth in the political arena to addressing the criticisms regarding the lack of transparency in recent elections. Asked by interviewer Anna Gawel, Ambassador Mombouli went on to talk about the plan by Congo’s government to diversify the country’s economy -currently dominated by the oil sector.
As the largest recipients of Congo’s exports are China and the European Union, « there is a need for more tangible investment in healthcare, infrastructure and electricity », Ambassador Mombouli said. He thanked Congolese authorities, U.S. government and all of its partners – CDC, NIH – for ensuring that preventative measures are in place in his country to mitigate spill overs of Ebola, threatening lives in neighboring country of DRC.
« Africa is the host garden of everybody », Mombouli responded when asked about the Chinese investment on the continent. He praised the US government for putting forward a new strategy to boost US investment in Africa. Through OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation), he urged an increase support for US companies in Africa, « the way chinese governement is doing for its own companies », he added.
With an extensive career in the private sector and over 29 years working in the United States, Ambassador Mombouli ended the dialogue highlighting his most memorable achievements that include, « bringing Seabord, the first American company to do business in Congo. » The program ended with the embassy serving dinner and cocktails for guests. By Mariama Ciré Keita contributed to this report. AlloAfricanews