The laboratory was created in August 2003 and brought together the following four institutions in a Targeted Interuniversity Project (TIP): Catholic University of Bukavu (UCB), Bureau of Scientific and Technical Studies (BEST), Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) and University of Liège (U.Lg). This project was funded by the University Commission for Development of the French Community of Belgium.

The general objective of LEAD is to contribute to the reflection on what should be the basic elements of a redevelopment strategy that focuses on two essential constraints: rebalance the economic relations between the city and the countryside and contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of the poorest.

The specific objective of LEAD is to analyze the structure of production chains which are important for the economy of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to explore the conditions for their redevelopment and their ability to meet the two criteria formulated in the main objective.

Thematic projects on micro-finance and support for small and medium enterprises

The issue of support for the private sector, particularly for small and medium enterprises in the province, is seen as a potential driver of economic take-off and continues to be of concern to laboratory researchers. Some studies are underway in the context of the SME project with a high concentration on training and support for the community (management consultancy, audit, etc.). A collaboration with ICHEC-PME and the University of Mons is already effective.

The SME Start Project to build the capacity of micro-entrepreneurs in the South Kivu Province – DR CONGO is one of the social support projects that LEAD is developing. Since 2012 PME START trains and accompanies professionals who wish to create a company. The subjects taught focus on small-scale accounting, commercial law and the tax regime of SMEs, marketing, business plan development, human resources management, financial management and logistics.

Dynamics of productive sectors and integrated rural development

This theme is currently exploited by LEAD and the research results have already been the subject of symposium and PhD researches are developed in this context. This work will continue in the mining sector, local governance and basic infrastructure.

Growth, decentralization and development

Issues related to the matter of growth and its micro economic implications are at the center of the reflection within the laboratory. We recommend to conduct a study on the evaluation of the distribution of fruits of growth in the Congolese economy, that of South Kivu in particular.

This study should be carried out in collaboration with South-North partner researchers. In addition, questions about the impact of devolution on the conduct of economic policy in the province, which optimal devolution structures for the province of South Kivu in a soon devolved state, etc. will soon be developed.

Issues related to human asset creation, health problems and brain drain will be another area of ​​collaboration between UCB researchers, UCL, Aix-Marseille, Bayreuth, etc. Themes for reflection on endogenous populations, development issues, links between international trade liberalization, regional integration and cross-border trade, growth and poverty will receive special attention.

Creation of a Database

Finally, all theoretical work will require empirical verification and empirical studies will inevitably lead to the collection of quantified information. It will be possible for us to gather a large amount of quantified information of higher quality than that currently available. This will be possible if we assign particular importance to scientific thoroughness in the collection of data for future use. In addition, it will be easier to update this information if it relates to our research interests. This database will be gradually built up as our work progresses. Hence the imperative need for a fund that would be allocated to the management of the database (conduct of surveys, elaboration of questionnaires, data entry and analysis, etc.).

Current research conducted by LEAD are both disciplinary and interdisciplinary. They focus on the issues of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in a particular way on the Kivu region: the productive sectors, the functioning of the markets, democracy, the development of collective infrastructures, local governance, local and regional devolution , regional integration, informality, cross-border trade and development, resource mobility, poverty and inequality, corporate finance and micro finance, micro insurance, entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises, human asset management and health structures, social asset, access to natural resources, economic growth, sustainable development, etc.

LEAD’s expertise is based on its ability to collect significant data in the field, which are then scientifically validated, to develop rigorous economic analysis, both in the field of the rural economy and regional development, economics of education and social policies, and to insert it into a multidisciplinary approach. The will is to lead these analyzes on proposals likely to inform the political decision and improve the public debate for the good of the community of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Researches conducted by the LEAD to date have resulted in a number of publications in international journals.

The continuation of LEAD activities is conditioned by the availability of a research fund within the Catholic University of Bukavu. LEAD operates due to various research projects, consultancy projects that it earns from various international and UN organizations like the World Bank, CICR, International Alert, UNICEF, DIOBASS, UNDP, EDF, etc.