580. Memorandum From Roger Morris of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1



  • Consortium for the Congo

You asked about the prospect of a donors club for the Congo now that her worst birth pangs (hopefully) are over. AID is already well at work on this one.

Over the last few months, we’ve begun to lay the foundations of a Congo aid group/consortium under the aegis of the World Bank. The first step, of course, was to get the Bank itself involved. They’re now ready to begin their first two jobs in the Congo: (a) a management study of a vital water-rail network, and (b) through the UNDP a badly needed [Page 848] study to reorganize the Congo’s moribund Bureau of Public Roads. AID is working closely with Bank experts on both these projects. We’re telling them that we plan to support their efforts directly with an FY ’70 program loan in transportation (the first sector loan in Sub-Saharan Africa). Even at this early stage it seems clear the Bank is settling itself into a crucial and long-range problem of Congolese development.

AID has also moved on to the second step and asked the Bank to call a meeting in the next 30 days of the other donors: Belgium, Italy, Israel, Nationalist China, France and the EEC. This session will be only a beginning at the staff level, but at least it ought to: (1) get better coordination of current aid; (2) generally promote the Bank’s involvement and leadership; and (3) signal the Congolese that this is the way their benefactors are moving. Soundings tell us that all the donors are for a Bank-sponsored group—except possibly the French, whose aid share and influence are not large enough to kill the idea if they balk. The Congolese think the idea is their ticket to the big leagues in development.

As you well know, the consortium-building business can be slow, hard work. But most of us think these are real beginnings. The U.S. now does roughly 15–20 percent of the Congo’s aid bill. By 1970, with a consortium full grown, we would expect our share to drop and level off at a respectable 10 percent.

I’ll be following the AID talks with the World Bank and the results of the meeting of the donors. If that session turns out as well as expected, you might want to give the President an incidental report on the Congo aid picture. After all, it’s a long and heartening road from Stanleyville paradrop to a club of investors putting their chips on Congolese turnpikes.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Edward Hamilton, Congo (A). Confidential. A handwritten note on the original by Saunders reads: “WWR—per our conversation. Hal.” Another handwritten note on the original by Rostow reads: “HS—RM—Good. If & when the IBRD gambit is firm draft a note in sense of final paragraph for the President. WWR.”