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Congo and Chad at the mercy of Swiss traders

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Congo-Brazzaville and Chad will elect their president on the first Sunday and the second in April. Votes played in advance saw the lockdown in favor of the indestructible Denis Sassou-Nguesso, in Congo, and Idriss Déby in Chad. But, if the future of these two countries will not be played in their ballot boxes, it will be discussed in Switzerland.

The two black gold producers are in fact heavily indebted to commodity traders. In question: the prepayment of oil proposed by several companies based in Switzerland, a mechanism described Wednesday by the magazine Young Africa but minimized by traders as a “centuries old practice”.

High interest rates

According to the agreements reached with Chad by the giant Glencore, based in Zug, and the Geneva trader Trafigura with Congo, the trading companies lent money directly to the two autocratic countries. The companies then reimburse themselves with the deliveries of oil. According to Young Africa, the interest rates of these transactions can reach 10%. And, disaster for Chad and Congo, since the conclusion of these agreements, the price of black gold has collapsed, a fall which has been accentuated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Even the International Monetary Fund is worried about these agreements, which strangle the countries concerned. The Washington institution has asked countries to reschedule their debt with Swiss traders before granting them new loans. This is done with regard to Chad. According to Young Africa, the negotiations are at a touching end with the government of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, which, in addition to a new electoral plebiscite, would gain a breath of fresh air.

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