Only a month after he was forced to cancel three logging concession contracts that his predecessor signed last year in violation of a 2002 freeze on new allocations, DRC’s ex-Environment Minister Robert Bopolo Mbongeza awarded a new permit to an adviser to President Joseph Kabila and green- lighted a second one to a ruling party member of parliament.

Inside this briefer, you will learn how the 15 September award and authorization, covering over 4,000 km2 (an area four times the size of Berlin), came only three weeks after Norway’s Climate and Environment Minister Vidar Helgesen visited Kinshasa to prepare the first disbursement of a $200 million Norwegian-led donor program to protect Congo’s forest. A first tranche of $40 million Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) funding was approved in October 2016.

After posing for the cameras with Helgesen, Bopolo awarded a 25-year 162,936 ha Tshopo Province concession to “Groupe Les Bâtisseurs du Congo,” (GBC). The President of the Board of Directors of GBC, Faustin Lokinda Litalema has been Kabila’s Agriculture and Rural Development adviser since September 2015. He appears to have created GBC in 2016. Lokinda’s contract specifies that he deposited a $50,000 security guarantee for the concession at the Banque Gabonaise et Française Internationale in Kinshasa.

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