Raissa Malu

The Makutano Effect

The 5th edition of Sultani Makutano has just ended. A 5th edition with 5 Presidents present, 2 in office, the 5th President of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the President of Niger, 2 honoraria (Ghana and Liberia) and 1 represented (Senegal). (The magic of numbers.)

In my previous article, I told you about the background of this Congolese business network. Here, I would like to tell you about the event as I experienced it.

Right away, if I had to summarize it in one word, it would be: Wow!

I often say that the best part of my job is the opportunity it gives me to interact, work and collaborate with extraordinary people. If you are like me, Makutano will bring you satisfaction. Makutano 5 was an opportunity to meet several members of the network to strengthen our ties. This is great, because in general, our interactions are limited to messages in a WhatsApp group!

Meetings with people

I met business leaders, diplomats, politicians, journalists, stars and young people. Everyone comes with her experience, her anger and apprehensions (yes), her hopes that we share during the panels and lobby discussions.

We met investors who came to the Democratic Republic of Congo for the first time on the occasion of Makutano 5 and who expressed an interest in doing business there.

Samuel Eto'o's speech

For the general impressions, the Honorary President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, told President Tshisekedi that for her first visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she was striked to come at the invitation not of the Government, but of the Women In Business DRC network under the leadership of Nicole Sulu. As for the Honorary President of Ghana, Mr John Dramani Mahama, whose participation in the Makutano was his second, he said that he saw an improvement in the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly in terms of confidence and dynamism.

After the opening ceremony, the first moment I enjoyed was the VIP Stand Up with Cameroonian international footballer Samuel Eto'o. He reminded the audience to take youth into consideration (very seriously). This youth who are on the streets, excluded from the classic circuits and whom we pretend not to see. According to him, we must have the courage to look at them, to approach them and to listen to them. Let's not think that this is about charity. No. According to him, it is a security issue. If we do not give this youth real opportunities, they will turn out to be our worst nightmare. In this regard, I will soon present to you the programme of the 7th edition of the Science and Technology Week...

Education system and vocational training

At my round table on training and competitiveness, we took stock of what works and what does not work in our education system and in vocational training. We recalled the needs of companies and the economic stakes. Several proposals were made.

For my part, it is at the provincial (local) level that we must develop and strengthen public-private partnerships in education and training. It is at this level that the private sector (formal and non-formal) should define and share the skills and qualifications sought. We therefore recommend the development of flexible and direct local systems of communication and exchange between schools, training institutes, higher and university institutes, companies in the formal sector and actors in the non-formal sector.

Provincial technical platforms

Concerning technical education and vocational training, we recommend that the provinces co-finance, with private sector stakeholders, technical platforms that would be used by several schools or training institutes forming a local network. These platforms would be equipped with the latest equipment, machinery, tools and software, used and sought by companies to meet immediate and future skills needs based on development prospects.

Operating and maintenance costs would be co-financed (public and private). The technical platforms would also be open to non-formal sector actors and would offer services such as Fab Labs (manufacturing laboratories) to produce some prototypes.

To this end, at the level of the project I am leading within the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Technical Education, we can deliver to each province a mapping of the training offer at the secondary level with the geolocation of schools to enable us to identify the best locations for these technical platforms, the type of training to be organized and the beneficiary schools.

Scholarships for women

The second highlight for me (and not the least 😉) was the official launch of the DRC Fellowship for Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Research, a first of its kind. I made the announcement at the Women In Business luncheon in the presence of extraordinary women including our First Lady, Mrs Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi, Mrs Jeanine Mabunda, Speaker of the National Assembly, HEM Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Honorary President of Liberia, Mrs Awa Ndiaye Seck, UN Women Resident Representative in the DRC and our dear Noëlla Coursaris Musunka, model, philanthropist and CEO of the Malaika Foundation.

The DRC Fellowship for Women in STEM Research is a joint Sultani Makutano & Investing In People ASBL fellowship. Our aim is to encourage women in the Democratic Republic of Congo to embark on and pursue academic, scientific, technological and research careers at the highest level. Three categories of scholarships are then proposed: Studies to fund university studies in STEMs; Event to fund participation in an international conference or meeting in STEMs; Research to fund a STEM research project carried out in the DRC.

BEBUC's help

The technical management of the scholarships is entrusted to the BRINGMANN Excellence Scholarship System at the Congolese Universities "BEBUC". The 2020 objective is to fund at least 6 scholarships for a total amount of 24,000 USD, of which 10,000 USD have just been offered by the company MKF Consulting led by Mrs Marceline Kaozi, whom we thank very much. We are looking for other sponsors (if you are interested, please contact me). The first awards will be presented at the 7th edition of the Science and Technology Week, which will be held from 18th to 22nd April 2020 in Kinshasa (on your schedule!)

The National Museum of the DRC

Makutano 5 ended for me with a visit to the National Museum of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, 8th September. The Museum is not yet open to the public. So I didn't want to miss this opportunity given to VIP members 😉. What a great experience! Both the discovery of the pieces and the reaction of the visitors. I was amazed to see some people get moved by a mask or a piece of their ethnic group. They were proud and when they could, they told of their memories and the epics of their ancestors. I strongly recommend this visit and I recommend it in a multi-ethnic group!

A definite impact

That's it, that's the end of the 5th edition of Sultani Makutano. Some may think that this is pointless and that this kind of event has no impact. I do not share this view. Change begins in each of us and it is through contact with others that we challenge and update our "internal software".

Some participants benefited from direct spinoffs (business opportunities, clients, etc.). Others broadened their horizons and met the person or people they were looking for. Still others simply had a pleasant time. There are certainly some who have been disappointed, but isn't that the way life is?

Sultani Makutano gives us the opportunity to think differently about the Democratic Republic of Congo, to consider other possibilities, to challenge those who lead and those who create wealth. So, are you ready for change together? Makutano ! 😊

This post has first been published on LinkedIn. It has been translated in English by Afriscitech.

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