Thursday, August 17, 2017

How the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, EITI, is abused by Sassou Nguesso.

The reasons why the Nguessos & Congolese government are members of EITI

All the ruling Nguesso family and the Congolese government that they(the Nguessos) are dominating want, when they join organisations such as EITI or Publish What You Pay, are the name tags of these organisations and the prestige that they generate. Conversely, they (the ruling Nguesso family and the Congolese government) will never implement the spirit of any of the organisations that she is a member. If the Nguesso family and Congolese government were serious, the regional bureau of EITI in Congo, would  been chaired by someone who is independent and  its board made up of people with the freedom to report honestly and independently, this in order to meet with the standards of EITI. Sadly in Congo Brazzaville, EITI Congo is everything but independent and most of the data that she feeds their (EITI) headquarters are false.

This is how it functions:

To begin with, how can EITI Congo be considered independent and upholds the standard of transparency when its chair, Michel Okoko is close to the ruling PCT party and the ruling Nguesso family?  How can EITI Congo be considered independent, when, most of those who are members of its board are either partner of the government or former members of local NGOs that have been bought over by the government? Worse, reports from EITI Congo on oil and mining companies are bogus.  This is how they are gathered: they are first collected manually with the consent of the companies that they are expected to audit and report accurately on their operations. Normally it would either have been gathered independently before comparing with the official ones. I was once present in the office of Michel Okoko, chair of EITI Congo, when I overheard him (Okoko) make phone calls to the executives of African Oil and Gas Congo, AGOC and Petroleum. In the conversation with the boss of AGOC, Mr Okoko, called the former requesting him to provide the exact reports or figures of the oil production that they (EITI Congo) should put in the report that they were to provide the EITI headquarters and which upon publication will become official regarding African Oil Gas Congo, AGOC activities. In normal circumstances, activities of EITI Congo or its evaluation reports should have been done independently rather than reporting statistics provided by oil and mining companies concern. Another observation that, I made while in Congo Brazzaville and also while visiting the office of EITI in Brazzaville is that, reports from companies in the liquid and solid mineral were collected manually, typed and sent first to headquarters of concern companies. After the evaluated companies have formally approved the information, it will be send back to EITI Congo and they will publish. It is this fictitious reports that don’t reflect the reality of the oil and mining sectors that are sent to EITI headquarters as authentic reports from oil companies operating in Congo Brazzaville. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Why anticorruption organisations can’t catch Brazzaville

Deceiving the world

As mentioned above, the Congolese government uses local and international NGOs to glamorize her cheatings and manipulations. One such organisation used by the Congolese government to deceive the world is EITI. But I wonder whether, EITI, which claims on her web site that, it is an organisation with a global standard, to promote the open and accountable management of Extractive Resources, is aware that, her name is being used or travestied by the Congolese government.  Whatever the abuses committed by the Congolese government with her none respect of the organization’s norms, EITI, nevertheless remains a prestigious organisation that The Republic of Congo is a member. Once again, it is wishful thinking to believe that, Brazzaville respects the standards of EITI. In spite the fact that, the Republic of Congo has succeeded a feat in hoodwinking the entire world with its false statistics in the areas earlier mentioned, what makes me to smile is the easy with which, the ruling Nguesso family is using the very instruments or organisations created to fight against corruption to deceive the world. Hence EITI reports from Congo Brazzaville need not to be taken seriously.   Given the glaring lies and manipulations of the Nguessos and the Congolese government as earlier mentioned, it is also beyond comprehension why the heads of EITI and other organisations with the same objectives can’t figure out that Congo Brazzaville is a deceitful, corrupt, dishonest, crooked and untrustworthy member.

Why anticorruption organisations can’t catch Brazzaville

To the discharge of heads or EITI or Publish What Pay and other western bodies such as the US Department of Energy, Department of Justice, they are unable to discover the deceitful attitude of Congo Brazzaville’s government because there is no logic for a regime that wants to hide things or that encourages corruption, to join organisations that are fighting against corruption. The simple fact that, the Congolese government is the one that solicits membership to the aforementioned organisations is where the tricks played by the Nguessos and the Congolese government lies.  For heads of such organisations think it is out good fate that, Brazzaville wants to join them, hence they can’t easily decipher the malevolent intentions of the Nguessos and Brazzaville government. Once again, by joining organisations such as EITI or Publish what you Pay, Brazzaville easily deceives everybody because all suspicions on her are dissipated. While organisations such as EITI or Publish What You Pay, have genuine objectives to brightened transactions between governments and mining companies, Brazzaville or the ruling Nguesso family have joined these organisations with their own agenda in mind.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Congo Brazzaville: Cesspool of lies and Manipulations

As already mentioned, the ruling Nguesso family and government is a bunch of professional lairs and manipulators. Hence after cheating her way into the Highly Poor and Indebted Countries scheme of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, they did not stop at lying or doctoring their statistics. They have embarked at lying and manipulating all information coming out from all organisations based in the country. Almost all figures coming out of Congo Brazzaville are wrong. The first wrong information from Congo Brazzaville is her population figure and the second wrong or doubtful figure from Congo Brazzaville is its oil production and the revenue generated from the sale of its crude. Even figures of its internal and external debts are wrong because of the opaque web under which she was contracted and executed. There is a reason why the government doesn’t want its people or its international trading partners to know the true figures or statistics on anything especially, its Oil production or the revenue that she generates from the sale of crude. In order to justify the monumental travesty of international norms set up to discourage corruption and encourage and enforce transparency, the Congolese government uses local NGOs. Paradoxically, some NGOs are used by the international community to promote the respect of human rights and also to fight against corruption or to expose corrupt practices of individuals and governments.

But in Congo Brazzaville, as earlier mentioned, in spite all best efforts local NGOs or their representatives in particular, those heading them are either bought over or are too afraid to denounce or publish the true reality about the abuses of the Nguesso family or the Congolese government, as it concerns corruption. Fortunately, mindful of the limitations of local NGOs, the international community has stepped up its efforts by sponsoring local NGOs in a bid to put them beyond want. The international community has also increase the capacity building of activists on the ground. But the latter strategy has not been quite successful, for the mismanagement of Congolese natural resources by the Nguessos has not decreased but instead increased, hence the need for other international NGOs to develop new adaptable tactics in the fight against corruption not only in Congo but in most developing and African countries. One of such internationally created and sponsored NGOs whose expertise  has contributed to expose corrupt practices within the solid and liquid mining sectors is Publish What you Pay. This organisation through various pressure groups and tactics has succeeded in forcing mining companies operating in Africa to publish some parts of their contracts with various liquid and solid mineral producing countries. Besides the Publish and What You Pay group, other global initiative against corruption in countries such as Congo is the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative abbreviated EITI. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Sassou Nguesso's Media Obsession: Vision 4 TV and Africanews

Controlling pan African media

Before Africa 24 TV that is based in France could come and cover the March 20th 2016 presidential election, the Congolese government, I was told, owed the French based pan African TV broadcaster the sum of FCFA 1 billion for unpaid adverts. This information was disclosed to me by a management staff that is not authorized to speak to the Press. It is therefore certain that, in order for the French based pan African TV station, Africa 24 to come and cover the March 20th 2016 presidential election and promotes the country as a “paragon of democracy and respect for human rights”; the Congolese government must have settled its past debts and paid another an undisclosed lump sum. Not satisfied with the publicity she received from Africa 24, the Congolese ruling family and government, also paid the sum of FCFA 700 million to Amougou Belinga, in order for the owner of Vision 4 TV  Cameroonian based TV station to come open a subsidiary in Brazzaville for the promotion of Denis Sassou Nguesso, his family and government. Mr Amougou Belinga is the owner Anecdote Media Group and Vision 4 TV is a subsidiary of the group. Mr Amougou Belinga is not only an assertive pro-government media mogul, he also boast around or tells anybody who cares to listen that, support for his Anecdote Media Group comes from Cameroon’s minister of Justice and keeper of the seals, Laurent Esso. After controlling the media at home, in Francophone Africa, the ruling Nguesso family decided to strike a great coup by bringing the pan European TV, Euronews in Congo Brazzaville through its subsidiary, Africanews.

Media Obsession

The grand question that most Congo or Nguesso family observers have always asked is this: why are Sassou Nguesso and his family so obsess with media propaganda? The answer is not farfetched. The plan of the regime is to transform Congo into a pan African and international media hub. Hence besides Vision 4 TV that they courted to open shop in Brazzaville, the same proposals was made to Africa 24, Vox Africa and an obscure TV station called UBIZNEWS managed by Alain Mevegue, a staff of France 24. As far as Euronews is concern, they were paid an unspecified sum to convince the Lyon based pan European TV to open its Africa subsidiary, Africanews in Congo.  To entice the pan European TV to stay in a country where there is no freedom of speech, the government is building them an 8 storey building in the heart of Brazzaville to serve as headquarters of Africanews besides state financial subvention. Their ultra modern building will be located along the aptly called Boulevard Denis Sassou Nguesso and which is not far from the private home of Sassou Nguesso located at Mpila, Saint Denis.  Why are they spending large sum of money on the press at home and abroad? It is first to improve their filthy image and second: to hide its appalling human rights abuses and corruption at home.  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Denis Sassou Nguesso and Jeune Afrique & Les Depeches de Brazzaville

While there is no doubt that, local media houses mentioned earlier have proven links to the Nguesso family albeit surreptitiously, but the media houses that have direct or glaring connections with Denis Sassou Nguesso are: Jeune Afrique and Les Depeches de Brazzaville. According to Apollinaire Aya, a staff at the Paris, France office of the department of Communications of the presidency of the Republic, headed by Claudia Sassou Nguesso, a lump sum of FCFA 2 billion is earmark annually for: Jeune Afrique and Les Depeches de Brazzaville. Remember, Les Depeches de Brazzaville is the only daily in the country and it is published by ADIAC media group. As if it were not enough to invest in Jeune Afrique, whose editor-in-chief is Francois Soudan, they ( the Nguessos) now control of Forbes Afrique, after the franchise for French-speaking Africa was bought by Lucien Ebata ( read previous article). In short, Forbes Afrique has become another tool in the Nguesso’s propaganda arsenal. While the ADIAC media group has the latest printing press and publishes Les Depeches de Brazzaville, the national printing press has not only been deliberately ruined, its staff are not paid regularly. More, the national daily La Nouvelle Republique publishes occasionally because it doesn’t have a running budget. Even the Congolese News Agency abbreviated ACP, has also been run aground, because the Nguessos wants ADIAC to substitute ACP as Les Depeches de Brazzaville has done with La Nouvelle Republique. The voracious love of the regime and the Nguessos for image makeover doesn’t stop at sponsoring print and electronic media at home or abroad.  As already mentioned, the ruling Nguesso family has destroyed the entire local press: print and electronic. Another example of how the Nguesso have orchestrated the decay of the press can be seen in how they treat or manage the national radio and television: CNRTV. The paradox is that, the national radio and television which is the pivot of propaganda of the system, sometime lack recording tapes, video cameras, microphones or its vans doesn’t have fuel to carry reporters around to cover stories or events. 

Nguesso owned Media Houses in Congo

To crown the Nguesso family capture and control of local media, each member of the Nguesso family has a TV or Radio station or is planning to create or launch one. Maurice Nguesso, the elder brother of President Sassou Nguesso as you already know, owns MNTV, which is a subsidiary of the media group, MNCOM. Claudia Sassou Nguesso, daughter of President Sassou Nguesso and his communications adviser, owns Top TV, while his nephew, Jean Jacques Bouya, owns Equateur Service TV through a proxy called Jean Didier Elongo. Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso owns VOX TV and Vox Magazine, General Norbert Dabira owns DRTV, Elvis Digne Okombi Tsalisant is the owner of TPT Pointe Noire, General Jean Fran├žois Ndenguet owns Le Troubadour newspaper. And more, in their respective villages and localities, government ministers own radio and TV stations such as Radio Paris Abala, in Abala owned by Henri Ossebi (see profile) or Raymond Zephyrine Mboulou(see profile), who owns a radio in his village of Ngo in the Plateau region. The fact that, they are controlling the nation’s print and electronic media is not satisfactory   as far as they are concern. And as already mentioned they have also gone into frenetic investments into foreign media by buying advertorial spaces in pan African media such as Africa 24, Vox Africa, France 24 and TV 5. The advertorial binge of the Nguessos and their government increases during pre-presidential and post presidential election periods. For these media are needed to cover the way the presidential election is conducted in order to please and improve their image in the international community. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Congo Brazzaville: names of media houses controlled by Denis Sassou Nguesso

Sponsoring & investing in media locally

In Congo, the government through the Nguessos is in control of the state owned electronic media: radio and television abbreviated CNRTV and the Print media: La Nouvelle Republique, which is officially the national daily. The particularity of La Nouvelle Republique is as already mentioned, is that, its publications or periodicity are irregular. Furthermore, what passes for privately owned media houses: print and electronic: MNTV, Top TV, Vox Congo, ESTV, DRTV and TPT Pointe Noire are either owned by the brother, son, daughter, nephews of the President of the Republic or Army Generals, government ministers and people who are close to the regime.  It is the same situation with print media Houses: Le Patriote and Le Troubadour that are everything but private.  The first is owned by the political adviser to the President and the second by General Jean Francois Ndenguet.

Investing in western media: France

Since they (the Nguessos) have total and complete control over internal or local media, they are now attempting to control foreign print and electronic media. Hence the Congolese government is investing massively through advertorials in pan African French language magazine: Jeune Afrique or purely French newspapers such as Le Figaro or Ouest France. In a bid to further affirm the regime and family control or influence within French media landscape, it is claimed in Brazzaville that, Sassou Nguesso has shares in two major French newspapers: Le Monde and Nouvelle Observateur. How possible? That is what I have tried while still in Congo to find out. However, those circulating the latter news have it that, Sassou Nguesso bought shares in Le Monde and Nouvelle Observateur, through Mathieu Pigasse. Mr Mathieu Pigasse is the nephew of Jean Paul Pigasse, the manager of ADIAC media Group. However, I have not been able to  independently confirm the latter mentioned information, that is why, even though in Brazzaville there are elements of truths in most rumours, I can only by the time of writing this section, refer to Sassou Nguesso’s ownership of shares in the aforementioned two prestigious French newspapers as mere rumours. However, Mathieu Pigasse, who is a banker, is as already mentioned, rumored to be among people along with Moussa Yaya, who assisted Congo to doctor its statistics in a bid to qualify her for the Highly Poor and Indebted Countries Programme.  In Brazzaville, as at when I was still there, several questions were posed by citizens, regarding Mathieu Pigasse.  Some the questions asked were: Where did Mathieu Pigasse get money to buy controlling shares in two major newspapers in France?  Was it even true that, he had shares in Le Monde and Nouvelle Observateur? If he has shares in those two French newspapers, did he buy them with proceeds from services rendered to the government of Congo, as was done or offered to Moussa Yaya, through licenses awarded to Kontinent in the areas of oil exploration and Telecommunications? 

Monday, August 7, 2017

How Denis Sassou Nguesso and family are controlling the Press In Congo Brazzzaville

Controlling foreign and local Press

After they have succeeded in controlling the media at home, Congolese government through the ruling Nguesso family have developed a sleek scheme to control how foreign media do report about the country or the way the country is being managed by the Nguessos.  More about the government strategy to control the press at home and abroad will be developed in greater details below. However, the scheme put in place by the Nguessos to control the press locally and internationally has succeeded. This is so because the Congolese government is succeeding in misinforming the world about the true reality of the country: politically, socially and economically.  It is sadly the same strategy they have used to destroy and weaken opposition parties and also civil society organisations within the country. The manipulative media strategy put in place by the ruling Nguesso family to misinform the world is known as operation: “Koteka Mboka Te” or “Koteka Ekolo Te” in Lingala, and in English: “Don’t betray the fatherland”.

This is how “Koteka Mboka Te” or “Koteka Ekolo Te”

Through this scheme, the Congolese government encourages most foreign media houses: Radio France International (rfi), Voice of America (VOA), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Agence France Presse (AFP) to work in the country only with local stringers. In case the aforementioned media houses may desire to send foreign correspondents to Brazzaville, the process to obtain accreditation or visa is way too long and intentionally made to be complicated. And the immediate consequence is that, the cumbersome bureaucracy ends up discouraging media houses and consequently, they end up opting or inadvertently supporting the government’s strategy.  Most western media houses easily fall prey to Congolese government’s communications manipulative strategy because these days, the trend in most western media houses is to cut cost.  The Congolese government’s manipulative strategy is made more appealing, because it is accompanied with a formidable propaganda that goes thus: “local stringers know and understand best the country”. It is true that, local stringers may master the political, social and economic environment better, but as earlier mentioned, the underlying motive of the government is to direct the narrative of how the country and its government activities are reported.  To back up my claims, I have observed while in Congo that, immediately the government has the list of regular stringers working for foreign media houses, these stringers are enlisted onto the payroll of the Communications department of the presidency of the Republic and are paid a monthly stipend of FCFA 500 thousand or $ 700. This sum excludes extra payment or allowances paid to stringers in case they accompany the President or government ministers to cover certain events in the interior of the country.  In the Republic of Congo Brazzaville, the department of Communications of the presidency of the Republic is headed by Claudia Sassou Nguesso, the daughter of President Denis Sassou Nguesso. By opting to offer monthly salaries to stringers working for western media houses abovementioned, it is Congolese government’s own sleek attempt at controlling news coming out of the country. This method is a success, given that, most often than not, what comes out from Congo from local stringers, are good news stories or the under reporting of atrocities such as the current situation in the Pool region. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Sassou Nguesso's Sleek method of stifling press freedom in Congo Brazzaville


As already mentioned, there are a number of Congolese journalists who have been killed by this regime and many others who have either been forced into exile or have abandoned the profession altogether. The preceding are not an exhaustive means or methods used by the government to stifle press freedom. Intimidation or beating of journalists are regularly used and the government  also goes the extra mile of intimidating families of journalists, who will in turn prevail on their husbands, wives or children who are journalists to support  the state and its propaganda.  Besides intimidation or executions, there are equally several journalists who have been expelled from the country because their method of work is too professional and independent minded for the regime to withstand.  Paradoxically, in spite the abovementioned grim picture, there are no journalists in the jails of Congo, hence some international media organisations such as Reporters without Borders, RSF tend to give the country better media rankings than relatively freer countries within the region. But RSF or other media organisations are not to be blamed. They are victims of Congolese government’s sleek manipulations tactics. As of the 4th day of June 2017, there were no journalists in any Congolese jail and no journalists have been killed since I was expelled from in 2014.  In reality Congo remains one of the most treacherous countries for journalists on the African continent.  The example to back my latter claim is the recent arrest of Ghys Fortune Bemba, the publisher of Talassa newspaper on fallacious claims that, he is supporting terrorism, simply because, he granted an interview to Frederic Bintsamou aka Pastor Ntumi and published it in his newspaper: Talassa.

Sleek method of stifling the press

The government of Congo has put in place a sleek method of stifling press freedom that may not be visible to the eyes of an uninitiated observer. The first tool of press repression in Congo is not the Police as would generally be thought or expected. Institutions such as the country’s Press and Communications Monitoring Board, officially known in French  as the Conseil Superieur de la Liberte Communication, CSLC, is the first and foremost arm of press obstruction. This organisation is promoted by the government as an agency that regulates the press, ensures professional best practices and grants broadcast frequency in the country. What contradict the noble objectives of the government agency are the political affiliations and ideologies of those who are appointed to lead the organisation and other negative aspects below listed.

Philippe Mvouo

The first problem with the CSLC is its current chair, Philippe Mvouo. However, he is not very different from his predecessor, Jacques Banagazala, who is currently among the 131 political prisoners detained at the Brazzaville, central prisons.  Philippe Mvouo is not only a member of the ruling Congolese workers party, PCT; he is also reported to be a close to two chieftain of the regime: Firmin Ayessa, the chief of staff to President Sassou Nguesso and also Jean Dominique Okemba, the nephew of President Sassou Nguesso and also his special adviser. The hyper proximity of Philippe Mvouo to the Firmin Ayessa and Jean Dominique Okemba might explain the reasons why, since he(Philippe Mvouo )was appointed as chair of CSLC, he has proscribed or suspended a record number of newspapers under the fallacious claims that, their contents were not professional or outright libelous. However after investigations, it was discovered that, almost all the newspapers suspended or banned were simply because they were either considered as too independent or that, they published news that exposed influential members of the government and also members of the Kleptocracy: Jean Dominique Okemba, Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, Jean Jacques Bouya and many others. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Companies controlled by the Nguessos: China Bridge and Road Construction and BGFI Bank Congo Brazzaville

BGFI Bank: Jean Dominique Okemba

The ruling Nguesso family as already mentioned is present in all sectors of the Congolese economy. Another symbol or example of the stranglehold that, the Nguessos have over the Congolese economy is Jean Dominique Okemba. Mr Okemba whose name has been severally mentioned in this book is not only the nephew of the President and his special adviser and secretary general of the Congolese national Security Council; he is equally the chairman of the board of Directors of BGFI Bank Congo Brazzaville. Logically, he is the majority shareholder, but I have not been able to know or get the financial weight and worth of his shareholding unlike that of Gloria Mteyu mentioned below which was published by Bloomberg.   BGFI is another family based bank with its origin found in Gabon. In Congo Brazzaville, BGFI’s longstanding general manager is Narcisse Obiang and deputy, is Thierry Sansonnat, a Frenchman who has been offered Congolese nationality, simply because the Nguessos don’t want anybody to know all their financial transactions being carried through the bank. According to COBAC or Central African Banking Commission requirements, any bank operating within the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States, CEMAC must have at its helms a national from one of the six member states. However, in case a non national, is at the helm of a local bank, its deputy must be a citizen from where the bank is located. In order to circumvent the latter rule, the Nguessos have decided to offer Congolese nationality to Thierry Sansonnat, who is French by nationality.  The majority shareholder of Groupe BGFI Bank SA, which is present in 11 countries in west and central Africa are the Omar Bongo family.  And more, the Groupe BGFI Bank SA or their local subsidiaries are the bank of choice of   the ruling families in almost all countries that she has a subsidiary.  According to a publication of the online edition of Blumberg of December 16th 2016, in neighbouring DRC, the chairman of the board of Directors is Gloria Mteyu. She holds 60% of the shares of BGFI Bank DRC even after its recapitalization in 2104 and which is worth $ 10 million. Her brother, Francis Selemani Mtwale is the CEO of BGFI DRC. Both Gloria and Francis are sister and brother to President Joseph Kabila.

Alfred Onanga

While Jean Dominique Okemba is the majority shareholder of BGFI Bank Congo, another of his close ally: Alfred Onanga is the chairman of the Board of Director of another local bank known as Banque Congolaise de L’Habitat, BCH.  Mr Onanga besides chairing the board of BCH, he doubles as Director of Congolese Customs. BGFI Bank Congo Brazzaville doesn’t singularize itself with its unique management method, but also in breaking banking rules and regulations. For while the Central African Banking Commission requires that proper vetting systems be put in place to ascertain source of any financial transactions and destinations, BGFI ignores them or fails to respect the guidelines. Hence most men and women connected to power in countries where it has opened a subsidiary prefer to have an account at BGFI.  In Brazzaville, the national hydrocarbon corporation otherwise known as the SNPC has an account at BGFI Bank for all its oil transactions.

Jean Jacques Bouya 

In the galaxy of the Nguesso Kleptocratic family, there is also Jean Jacques Bouya (see profile). He is the money man of the President. For any project in the country that is beyond a FCFA 1 billion, he is the only one who has the authority to manage and execute it. This has made him to become one of the richest men in Congo and with such wealth; he also nurses the ambition to become President of the Republic. Even though he is not the show and tell type of most of his cousins, it has been revealed that, behind his love for China also lies his source of his wealth. He likes to work with Chinese and Chinese companies because they are corrupt as he is. It is reported that, he is the real owner of a Chinese company called China Bridge and Road Construction that has won almost all major construction contracts recently in the Republic of Congo. An example to demonstrate the dominance of China Bridge and Construction Company, within three years, the company is reported to have won FCFA 9 billion worth of contracts from the government. And it is also reported that, all other Chinese companies operating in Congo Brazzaville must pay or bribe Jean Jacques Bouya 20% of the revenue from any contract that they might win.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The golden boys of the Sassou Nguesso Kleptocracy:Alexis Vincent Gomez,Paul Obambi,Lucien Ebata

Paul Obambi: Azur Telecom

The presidential family or the ruling Nguesso family is also into the Telecommunication sector through one of their best known businessman: Paul Obambi. Mr Obambi is the majority shareholder of a Mobile telephony company: Azur Telecom. This company that Cendrine Sassou Nguesso is also a shareholder is headed by the younger brother of Mr Obambi by name Jean Bruno Obambi, a graduate of HEC in Montreal, Canada. Azur Telecom is not only present in Congo; she has subsidiaries in Gabon and Central Africa Republic. Mr Obambi is not only in the mobile telephony business, he is also into advertising, mining and oil sectors. He is also the owner of Congo Oil in the DRC. Although Paul Obambi staunchly refuses that his success is attached to his proximity to President Sassou Nguesso, many people that, I spoke to before writing this book has a contrary view. They all confirmed to me that Paul Obambi is fronting for President Denis Sassou Nguesso.  However all those who made the revelation or confirmed the claims did not want to be named publicly for fear of retaliation.

Alexis Vincent Gomez

While Paul Obambi operates in several sectors within the Congolese economy, the other golden boy of the system is Alexis Vincent Gomez. As his profile has indicated earlier, he is a lawyer and real estate mogul. Many people that I interviewed for this book confirmed to me that, Alexis Vincent Gomez was fronting for Mrs. Antoinette Sassou Nguesso, but like Paul Obambi, he has rejected any accusations of his supposed links with Antoinette Sassou Nguesso or any other member of the ruling Nguesso family. The other reality in Congo is that, without any proximity with members of the ruling Nguesso family, it is almost impossible to do business in the country. Most Lebanese and West African businessmen operating in Congo will back the latter claims. They (West African businessmen) can’t operate without the backing of one or more members of the ruling Nguesso family. Some West African and Lebanese businessmen do boast that, their businesses are either a cover for one of the Nguessos or for some influential persons within the system. They are no longer afraid to tell anybody who cares to listen that, they are doing business with the support of the ruling family. The Nguessos don’t have investments only in Congo. Some of their supports have invested massively out of Congo. The cases of Paul Obami with his mobile phone company present in Gabon and Central African Republic and Willy Etoka who has investments in Congo, Morocco, France and the United States. In the US, Willy Etoka has invested in a property at Potomac and McDonalds franchises. The rise of Willy Etoka from rag to richest would have been wonderful and also a source of inspiration to many poor and better educated Congolese if it was really the fruit of hard work. He was formerly a used tire merchant around Miadeka Street in Brazzaville and today he is the 10th richest man in French-speaking Africa with a presidential ambition because he is fronting for Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso.

Lucien Ebata

Orion Oil, owned by Lucien Ebata is based in neighbouring DRC, precisely in Kinshasa. Orion Oil also has offices in Canada and Switzerland. Lucien Ebata is perhaps the top among the golden boys fronting for the Nguesso ruling family that I know personally besides Paul Obambi.  I had the opportunity while in Congo Brazzaville to interview him twice for my TV programme, La Grande Interview broadcast on MNTV. How he became rich is equally a fairytale comparable to that of Willy Etoka, earlier mentioned. My investigations have revealed that, in spite all the stories that are officially narrated as being the source of his wealth; the truth is that, the Nguesso families are the ones who have propelled him to the pinnacle of African business. However, what I was not able to pinpoint clearly, was who was his connecting man or woman within the Nguesso family. Some people I spoke with claimed that, he was working for Edgard Nguesso, while others claim that, he was working for Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso. Whatever the case, Lucien Ebata is not a self made business man as he would want the world to think he is, but a product of a corrupt system. He is one of the many conduits through which the ruling Nguesso family uses to siphon out of the country, funds generated from the sale of Congolese crude oil. Lucien Ebata is a brilliant businessman who has decided to diversify his business by going into the media. He has bought the franchise for French-speaking black Africa of the American magazine: Forbes. The French-speaking edition or Forbes franchise for Africa is known as Forbes Afrique and it has become a platform under which the ruling party uses to launder it image at home and abroad by organizing conferences for media professionals and for spent out politicians from western democracies: Guy Verhostadt, Pierre Raffarin, Dominique de Villepin or Vincente Fox to give themselves a semblance of political rejuvenation. It was through Forbes Afrique that Willy Etoka, one of the creatures of the system was exposed as the 10th richest person in French-speaking Africa.