Hungary will finance the shipping of 10,000 tonnes of grain worth 3.5 million US dollars from Ukraine to Africa as part of its efforts to resolve the global food crisis, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after meeting his Congolese counterpart in Budapest on Monday. Though Hungary and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are geographically far apart, they are both affected by global security threats, Szijjártó told a press conference he held jointly with Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen’Apala, according to a foreign ministry statement. Szijjártó cited the example of the negative effects of the Ukraine war, such as the food crisis which affects Africa the most. Both countries have an interest in peace being achieved as soon as possible, Szijjártó said, urging dialogue, a ceasefire and peace talks.
Concerning bilateral economic ties, Szijjártó highlighted the electric vehicle industry and battery production as a key link between Hungary and the DR Congo. Hungary has the world’s third largest EV battery production capacity and will soon be ranked first thanks to the investment projects under way, the minister said. Szijjártó noted that one of the most important raw materials used in EV battery production was cobalt, with more than 70% of the cobalt used by the sector coming from the DR Congo. The future success of the global EV industry depends greatly on the unimpeded extraction and supply of cobalt, Szijjártó said. Several Hungarian companies will get to contribute to this, the minister said, noting that a 600 million dollar infrastructure development programme aimed at linking the DR Congo with Zambia and Tanzanian ports will be headed by Hungarian construction industry companies. The project will shorten the time it takes for the DR Congo’s raw materials to reach sea ports from over a month to around ten days, Szijjártó said. The project’s preparatory phase is under way and the Hungarian companies involved have signed the concession contract, he said.
On another subject, Szijjártó said the DR Congo was the fifth largest recipient of aid from the Hungarian government’s Hungary Helps humanitarian programme. Hungary will offer scholarships to ten Congolese university students each year starting in 2023, he said. Meanwhile, Szijjártó welcomed that under a collocation agreement, Hungary will open a diplomatic mission on the premises of the Serbian embassy in Kinshasa later this year. Szijjártó also said that Lutundula was the first Congolese foreign minister to pay an official visit to Hungary, adding that this highlighted the importance of the two countries marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties this year.