Overview

  • Country Overview

    The Republic of Congo is highly urbanized with more than half its population living in the two largest cities, Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. The rest of the country ranks among the least dense areas in Africa, with a population density of 12.8 per square kilometer.

    The country is largely covered by tropical forests, and has abundant unused arable land equivalent to about one third of its total area. Most importantly, it is endowed with significant hydrocarbon reserves with an estimated proven 1.6 billion barrels of oil reserves and 90 billion cubic meters of natural gas. In addition, the country benefits from significant mining resources.

    While some progress has been made in transforming its natural resources into economic growth, the country has not fully succeeded in leveraging them to achieve robust socio-economic outcomes. Overall, the heavy reliance on hydrocarbon resources has crowded out development of sectors such agriculture and forestry.

    Political Context

    The country is led by President Denis Sassou Nguesso who was reelected in March 20, 2016 and his Prime Minister Clément Mouamba.

    The legislative and local elections took place on July 2017. The main ruling party, the Congolese Labor Party (PCT) won most of the seats, and the reshuffling of the Government resulted in no major changes in key ministerial positions.

    In the meantime, the crisis in the Pool's department is taking on positive trends. A ceasefire agreement, reached on November 23, 2017 between government officials and representatives of former rebel leader Frédéric Bintsamou, aka Pastor Ntumi, allowed hundreds Ninja rebels of the latter to leave the Pool's forests and hand over weapons in exchange for a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. Meanwhile, humanitarian assistance started to be delivered to some of the 138,000 people in distress.

    Economic Overview

    The economic crisis deepened as GDP continued to contract at 4.6 percent in 2017 from 2.8 percent in 2016. Though oil production increased in 2017 with a new field (Moho Nord) coming on stream and oil prices start recovering, the increase in oil GDP did not off-set the contraction of non-oil activities. The latter sharply decreased by 9.2 percent in 2017 as a tight financial situation linked to the accumulation of government arrears forced many companies to reduce activities and staff. Non-oil sector was mostly affected by reduced activities in Telecommunications, Transport and Construction.

    Economic growth is projected to slowly recover at 1.4 percent an average over 2018-2020. This recovery is supported by higher oil production and an increase in ICT and manufacturing output, as the Dangote cement plant has started production in November 2017. Non-oil production will continue its gradual recovery for reaching the peak in 2019. Average inflation is expected to stand below the CEMAC norm of 3 percent. As a result, overall fiscal and external balances are expected to be contained over 2018-2020 in the hopes of successful implementation of the fiscal and economic reforms.

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

  • The World Bank Board of Executive Directors endorsed the Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for 2013-2016 in November 2012, which aims at supporting the Congolese government in diversifying its economy away from oil, focusing on private sector-led growth and employment generation. The strategy also focused on assisting the country achieves better outcomes in basic public services, especially in health and education. It is built around three themes: competitiveness and employment, vulnerability and resilience, and strengthening government capacity and governance.

    A Performance Learning Review (PLR) has been prepared (Q2- FY16) to inform future Bank engagement. The strategic focus will remain the same. The recent plunge in oil revenues underscores the importance to diversify Congo’s economy and using public resources more efficiently to achieve better results.

    Proposed revisions reflect new engagements to align the program more closely with the twin goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity, through transformational projects on urban infrastructure, skills development in agriculture, delivery of health services (PBF), social safety nets, and quality of education.

    The WBG will explore alternative funding mechanisms through collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to fund large infrastructure projects.

    A Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) is being finalized and scheduled to be reviewed by the board in the next quarter. The Country Partnership Framework (CPF) is currently under preparation and scheduled to go to board later this fiscal year.

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

  • Agriculture

    The Commercial Agriculture Project (CAP), an IDA credit of USD$100 million was approved on July 13, 2017 and the financing agreement signed on September 20, 2017 is expected to improve productivity of farmers and market access for producer groups and micro, small and medium enterprises, in selected zones of the territory of the Recipient. It should provide immediate and effective response in the event of an eligible crisis or emergency.

    Education

    A new Education Sector Support Project (PRAASED) has become effective August 4, 2017. PRAASED is a US$70 million project of which IDA contributes US$30 million. The project aims to improve primary and lower secondary education outcomes and to increase the effectiveness of management systems especially on human resources. Three strategic studies assessing the performance of teacher training institutes, the direction of in-service training, and the institute in charge of pedagogy have already been produced using the project preparation advance. The studies’ results have been disseminated and are currently being discussed with government.

    Forestry

    The Bank is supporting the government through an $8.6 million Readiness Grant from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). Republic of Congo received conditional approval of its $50 million Emission Reductions Program from the FCPF Carbon Fund in June 2017. In December 2017, the Sub-Committee of the Forest Investment Program endorsed Republic of Congo’s Investment Plan of the National REDD+ Strategy, clearing the way for new funding for REDD+ investments. With support from the Central Africa Forest Initiative, the Government is further developing its Investment Plan.

    In parallel, the $10 million IDA-funded Forest and Economic Diversification Project is supporting the forest administration, local communities, and indigenous people’s participation. Among others, it has supported the development of simplified management plans on 117 000 ha of community development zones in forest concessions, supported 1195 households through agricultural microprojects, allowed the administration to conduct 4256 additional control missions in forest concessions, provided training to two thirds of Ministry of Forest Economy staff, and reached a total of 13,416 beneficiaries.

    $6.5 million in additional financing to the FEDP from the Global Environment Facility has been approved by the World Bank, and is awaiting government effectiveness.

    Governance

    The Integrated Public-Sector Reform Project (IPSRP), is a US$ 40 million project financed by IDA Credit. The project was approved by the World Bank Group on May 4, 2017 and The Financing Agreement was signed on June 23, 2017. The effectiveness deadline was extended twice and the Project is supposed to be effective on April 29, 2018. The Project’s development objective is to improve public resources management and accountability in the Republic of Congo. The ultimate beneficiaries of the project will be the citizens, who can expect to see improvements in the quality of public service delivery and greater effectiveness across the public administration.

    Health

    The Bank is implementing a $120 million Health System Strengthening Project II (PDSS-II) of which $100 million is government-financed, $10 million from IDA and $10 million from a multi-donor trust fund for health results innovation. The objective is to increase the utilization and quality of maternal and child health services in targeted areas. A performance-based financing approach is being introduced throughout the entire health system.

    ICT (Information and Communications Technology)

    The Central African Backbone (CAB), an IDA credit of $15 million, increases geographical reach and usage of regional broadband network services and reduces their prices. In Congo, the project financed the construction of the fiber channel between Pointe-Noire and Mbinda. An additional financing of $5 million has been signed to help finance the costs associated with (i) the installation of the active layer on the fiber optic infrastructure in Congo’s western region; and (ii) the establishment of an ICT incubator and a Digital Development Fund aiming at leveraging private investors willing to promote entrepreneurship in the ICT sector in Congo, create local content, and new job opportunities for youth in the country.

    Safety Nets

    The Lisungi project, originally a US$ 17 million project co-financed by IDA (US$2 million) and the Republic of Congo (US$ 15 million) aims to establish the key building blocks of a national safety net program and pilot a cash transfer program to improve access to health and education services of the poorest households in participating areas.  To date, IDA contribution has increased to US$ 12 million due to an additional finance (to be approved by the parliament), the Agence Française de Dévelopement (AFD) provided an additional finance of Euro eight million for an extension of cash transfers to other areas, and UNICEF has made available CFA 83 million to strengthen the delivery of accompanying measures targeted to beneficiary families with children, to improve communication to the households and to reinforce the capacity of the social workers working at the local Social Assistance Circumscription (CAS) offices.

    About 3,455 households and 2,794 elderly people are benefitting from the project which provides quarterly cash transfers conditional on attending school and health clinics visits.

    Skills and Employment

    The Skills Development for Employability Project (PDCE), originally a US$32 million project co-financed by IDA (US$10 million) and the Republic of Congo (US$22 million), aims at improving job and entrepreneurship skills for vulnerable urban youth. The project is currently being restructured to consider that counterpart funds will not be available. The project will be scaled back and will aim to provide skills and better employment opportunities to 6,000 vulnerable youth.

    Statistics and Poverty

    The Statistics Capacity Building Project (PSTAT), is a US$ 33 million project jointly financed by IDA (US$ 4.8 million) and the Government (US$ 28.2 million). The project was approved by the World Bank Group on June 9, 2014 and became effective on April 8, 2015.

    Urban Development

    The Water, Electricity and Urban Development Project (PEEDU), an initial $125.5 million project co-financed with the Congolese government was approved in 2010 and has directly benefitted 1,1 million people, and 32 km of paved roads and 230 km of tertiary and secondary water distribution have been built. An additional financing amounting $150 million approved in 2014 is being implemented to upgrade the electricity distribution network, improve the operational and commercial performance of the national electricity utility and build and reinforce institutional capacity.

    Cofinanced by the World Bank, the Urban Development and Poor Neighborhood Upgrading Project became effective on April 7, 2017.

    Water and sanitation

    The World Bank Group provided technical assistance for conducting an institutional audit, and a National Water and Sanitation Policy (NWSP) was developed which is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. 

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

  • Foreign financial assistance to the Republic of Congo is modest. Apart from the World Bank Group, major international partners are China, the EU, the French Development Agency (AFD), and the African Development Bank (AfDB). These partners work together to promote economic diversification and develop the health and education sectors. The United Nations (UN) and the Central African State Development Bank (BDEAC) are also active in the Republic of Congo. Furthermore, the government recently scaled up its collaboration with Singapore, with respect to the special economic zones.

    Last Updated: Apr 19, 2018

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LENDING

Republic of the Congo: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


PHOTO GALLERY

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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
BDEAC Building, 2nd Floor
Denis Sassou Nguesso Boulevard
Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
+242 05 550 30 55
+242 06 852 53 62
For general information and inquiries
Franck Sidney Chrysantheme Bitemo
Communications Associate
+242 05 675 06 99
+242 06 959 39 93
fbitemo@worldbank.org
For project-related issues and complaints
congoalert@worldbank.org