The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a country with vast resources. Its surface area of 2.3 million square kilometers spans the equivalent of two-thirds of the European Union. Fewer than 40% of the nearly 70 million inhabitants live in urban areas, according to the latest NSI (National Statistics Institute) estimates. With 80 million hectares of arable land and over 1,100 minerals and precious metals identified, the DRC has the potential to become one of the richest countries on the African continent and a driver of African growth.
Since 2001, the country has been recovering from a series of conflicts that broke out in the 1990s and the effects of a protracted economic and social slump. In 1999, after the Lusaka Peace accords were signed, a transitional government was established, pending the presidential elections in 2006 that were held peacefully. New institutions, such as Parliament, the Senate, and provincial assemblies, are now operational. Joseph Kabila and his party won the presidential and legislative elections held in November 2011, however, these elections raised concerns about the transparency of the electoral process. The next presidential elections are slated for 2016.
The DRC remains a fragile country with weak institutions and a tremendous need for reconstruction and a revival of economic growth. The security situation is improving but remains tense, particularly in the eastern provinces. Peacebuilding and economic recovery efforts are being carried out in a challenging social context. The new territorial division took effect in June 2015, with the country moving from 11 provinces to 26. In October 2015, the country will begin a new electoral cycle, with municipal, local, and provincial elections, which will conclude in November 2016 with presidential and legislative elections.
After an economic slump in 2009 that brought the growth rate down to 2.8% due to the global financial crisis, the DRC posted an annual average economic growth rate of 7.4% during the 2010-2013 period, and of 8.7% in 2014, both of which are well above the average in Sub-Saharan Africa. This performance is driven by robust extractive industries and by favorable trends in commodity prices. Public investments have also helped spur growth. Inflation, which posted a staggering 53% in 2009, has stood at 1% since 2013 as a result of the implementation of prudent fiscal and monetary policies.
Although the DRC’s political and security situation remains fragile, the economy is expected to grow steadily at an estimated rate of over 8%, owing to increased investment and growth in the extractive industries and the contributions of public works and the tertiary sector.
Maintaining a restrictive monetary policy and fiscal discipline is critical to containing inflation below the 5% goal. World Bank estimates confirm that the support strategy for investments in large-scale infrastructure projects, led by the authorities, could significantly support growth, provided that priority is accorded to high-return projects (transport, electricity).
With respect to reforms, since 2010, the Government has been committed to working closely with the World Bank to establish a mechanism for the systematic improvement of economic governance. A joint mechanism for monitoring the progress on reform implementation has also been established. The objective of these reforms is to strengthen governance and transparency in the extractive industries (forestry, mining, and oil sectors) and to improve the business climate. Over the past two years, significant progress in the implementation of these measures has been observed. Almost all the contracts signed by the Government in the oil, mining, and forestry sectors have been disclosed to the public. The DRC is meeting the transparency requirements through the periodic publication of reports under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). However, additional efforts must be made to achieve the widespread use of competition for the awarding of mining, oil, and forestry contracts.
Despite an impressive economic growth rate and a reduction in the poverty rate from 71% in 2005 to 63% in 2012, the poverty rate remains high in the DRC. The country ranked second to last on the Human Development Index (186 out of 187 countries) in 2014, and its per capita income, which stood at $380 in 2014 (Atlas method), is among the lowest in the world. The United Nations estimates that there are some 2.3 million displaced persons and refugees in the country and 323,000 DRC nationals living in refugee camps outside the country. A humanitarian emergency persists in the more unstable parts of the DRC and sexual violence rates remain high.
Last Updated: Nov 19, 2015