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, and his Prime Minister Clément Mouamba. The government quickly launched "The march towards development," the President’s social project for 2016-2021, and the "Living together" initiative which calls for unity, dialogue and national cohesion. However, some major political or military leaders have been imprisoned. 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 since April 2016 is taking on alarming trends. The Congolese authorities continue to search for Frederic Bintsamou, aka Pasteur Ntoumi, as well as his militia Ninja Nsiloulou, officially qualified as a terrorist group. The violence and insecurity have caused the displacement of about 81,000 people while 138,000 people are in distress.

    Economic Overview

    The Congolese economy is suffering from consequences of the oil price shock since 2014. GDP growth continues to decline for the fourth consecutive year, by contracting at 2.8 percent in 2016, and at least 1.1 percent in 2017. This trend is driven by the declining oil GDP (-1.5 percent) over 2014-2016 and the weak response from the non-oil GDP of 3.3 percent. Indeed, after having well-performed in 2014 and 2015, all non-extractive sectors contracted by 3.1 percent in 2016 while inflation rose to 3.6 percent, led by railway constraints.

    Economic prospects are weak, and GDP growth will average about 0.9 percent over 2017-2019, despite increased oil production with the entry of new oil fields in Moho Nord. Structural reforms are needed for boosting private sector’s potentials and performing than the 2.5 percent got over 2014-16. Reviving industries and construction activities will be key contributors to growth. This should decrease domestic prices below the CEMAC norm of 3 percent, and reduce the scope of both overall fiscal and external balances that are expected to average about (3) percent of GDP and 2.8 percent of GDP over 2017-2019. 

    Last Updated: Oct 27, 2017

  • 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 to inform future Bank engagement. The strategic focus will continue to be on (1) competitiveness and employment; (2) vulnerability and resilience; and (3) good governance and capacity building. The recent plunge in oil revenues underscores the importance of diversifying Congo’s economy, and using public resources more efficiently to achieve better economic and social results. Proposed revisions reflect new engagements toward transformational projects to modernize urban infrastructure, develop skills in agriculture, deliver better health services (performance-based financing), strengthen social safety nets, and improve quality of education. The World Bank Group will explore alternative funding mechanisms with its International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the development of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to fund large infrastructure projects.

    A Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) is currently under preparation and scheduled to go to the board in FY18.

    Last Updated: Oct 27, 2017

  • Agriculture

    The Agricultural Development and Rural Roads Rehabilitation Project (PDARP) was financed through an IDA grant of US$20million between 2008-2014 and additional financing of a credit US$ 2.5 million between 2014-2017, in addition to a government financing totaling US$28 million over the period. The project has reached a total number of 321,600 beneficiaries of which 51,6 percent are women.  952 micro agricultural projects that benefited 12,047 people, were financed leading to significant yield increases of main staple crops: cassava from 5.6 MT/ha in 2008 to 49.1 MT/ha in 2016 and banana productivity from 0.4 MT/ha to 14.03 MT/ha. This project has also rehabilitated 41 rural markets and 1,319 km of rural roads serving 248 villages with a population of 340,000 linking them to markets and other basic social services (clean drinking water, communication, schools). The follow up 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, and provide immediate and effective response in the event of an eligible Crisis or Emergency.

    Education

    A new Education Sector Support Project (or 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 education outcomes of primary and lower secondary school children and to increase the effectiveness of select 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. Republic of Congo received conditional approval of its $50 million Emission Reductions Program from the FCPF Carbon Fund in June 2017.

    In parallel, the $10 million IDA funded Forest and Economic Diversification Project is supporting 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 885 households through agricultural microprojects, allowed the administration to conduct 3765 additional control missions in forest concessions, provided training to two thirds of Ministry of Forestry Economy staff, and reached a total of 12,786 beneficiaries.

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

    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 Project is supposed to be effective on October 21, 2017. 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 of the country, who can expect to see improvements in the quality of public service delivery. As the project proceeds, improving revenue mobilization—including from forestry and land use—is expected to translate into a greater availability of funds for financing the provision of basic social services, while strengthening expenditure management and control will promote 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 optic link 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, 3,000 are expected to start receiving payments due to AFD support, and the social registry for the safety nets system consolidates information on about 60,000 poor and vulnerable households around the country.

    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: Oct 27, 2017

  • 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, in particular with respect to the special economic zones.

    Last Updated: Oct 27, 2017

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LENDING

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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
BDEAC Building, 2nd Floor
Denis Sassou Nguesso Boulevard
Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
+242-22-81-3330
Brazzaville
Franck Sidney Chrysantheme Bitemo
Communications Associate
+242-22-81-3330
fbitemo@worldbank.org
Washington
Yisgedu Amde
Country Program Coordinator
1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433
+1-202-473-2203
yamde@worldbank.org