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Speech by His Majesty the King - University of Lubumbashi

10 June 2022

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Mr. Rector,
Dear Professors,
Dear students of the University of Lubumbashi,
Dear 'Kasapards'!

We knew that our welcome in Lubumbashi would reflect your legendary hospitality. But your ability to welcome foreign guests has exceeded all expectations. The warmth of your welcome goes straight to our hearts.

Thank you, Mr Rector, and you, faculty members - and you, students of this fine university.

More than 50 years after the last visit by my uncle, King Baudouin, it is a great joy to be able to address you today, here in Lubumbashi, in the heart of the Katanga province.

And through you, I address all the young people of Congo.

We have been waiting for this trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo for a long time. And we wanted to truly discover your country.

This is why we have chosen to be here with you today.

In the last few days, we have already been able to pay tribute to memory, that of our common history, everything that has bound us together, joyfully but also sometimes painfully.

We have been able to visit many projects and accomplishments, in areas as diverse as employment, biomedical research, education and cultural heritage. The Queen and I were very impressed with the quality of the commitment of everyone involved.

Dear Students,

Today, let's look to the future.

This future is yours. And if you are here to study and train in conditions that we know are difficult, it is because you have faith in the future, in yourselves and in your country. We know the sacrifices that this requires of you and your parents.

We do not underestimate these sacrifices.

We salute all the more the choice you have made to develop your personal talents so that in the future you can become responsible actors in Congolese society.

You are part of a generation that is developing a keen sense of the challenges of our societies. And I know how much you, more than any other young people in the world, yearn for security, peace and justice.

Congo possesses an abundance of wealth in its subsoil.

It is for you to get the most value out of these riches, in your country, to the benefit of the Congolese people, thanks to the skills you will have acquired.

This is why I do not hesitate to say that the real wealth of Congo is you, its youth, with your determination and enthusiasm.

A mine can be exhausted. The talent and desire of young people, their thirst for knowledge, on the other hand, are inexhaustible.

I express the hope that you will be able to flourish and serve, in your turn, the common good of the african nation and continent.

Nothing is inevitable.

The opportunities for development in Congo are real and vast. And it is no small thing to say this here, in the capital of the copper region. Moreover, copper is a good example of the continuity of the economy over time, since, in addition to its own value, it retains cobalt, the metal that has become essential to the new technologies that will shape the world of tomorrow.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we are witnessing the revitalisation of bilateral relations between Congo and Belgium. An important part of this new dynamic involves university and scientific cooperation.

It is in this context that UNILU is cooperating with several Belgian universities and institutions.

Among the major collaborations, I would like to highlight the historical and sustained support of the architects of the Université Libre de Bruxelles to your Faculty of Architecture and the creation of medicinal plant gardens on your campus.

Still in the medical field, the twinning between your university, the universities of Kinshasa and Bukavu and the Université Libre de Bruxelles is a magnificent example of North-South cooperation.

The collaboration between the Universities of Lubumbashi and Liège aims at improving the living conditions of the local people by improving urban agriculture and optimising ecosystem services.

All these partnerships are all the more solid today because they can rely on the dynamism of Congolese universities.

This is evidenced by the recent creation, in Lubumbashi, of the African Centre of Excellence for Advanced Battery Research, from cobalt as it happens.

This Centre will support the emergence of a competitive value chain for batteries, electric cars and renewable energy. It will contribute to job creation and to building local economies in order to reduce poverty and, so much needed, improve the well-being of the population.

Of course, it is not just the wealth in your subsoil.

There is also the immense agricultural potential and this vast Congolese forest, an ecological resource that is essential for effectively fighting climate change.

We will be by your side to support you, as much as possible, in fairly developing this natural wealth for the benefit of all, through this formidable human capital that you represent so well.

And when I mention your human capital, I am also thinking of your ingenuity in the service sector and in particular the new digital professions.

Here in Congo, in this field, there is enormous expertise that embodies the future and is linked to the great evolutions in the world.

Many challenges remain, and we cannot ignore them: poverty reduction and the mobilisation of resources for the benefit of all.  And, here and now, I cannot fail to mention security, especially in the east of the country.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Students,

There is no development without peace, and there is no peace without development.

Belgium is by your side as you address these challenges.

We carry these messages also within the European Union and the United Nations, with conviction and perseverance.

This support finds its raison d’être in the will of the Congolese people to work towards harmony and inclusion for all. This is also what motivates us and it is the message that I will take back with me to Belgium.


Dear 'Kasapards',

The Congo that we are discovering throughout this journey is a Congo that moves us, inspires us and gives us hope.

And it's also thanks to you!

I know that the DRC can count on you.

In the meantime – enjoy your beautiful student years.

Be open to new encounters, forge strong friendships.



Don't forget

to study, from time to time...