Overview

  • The largest Francophone country in Africa, with vast natural resources, the Democratice Republic of the Congo (DRC) has nearly 77 million inhabitants, fewer than 40% of whom live in urban areas. With 80 million hectares of arable land and over 1,100 minerals and precious metals, the DRC has the potential to become one of the richest countries on the continent and a driver of African growth if it can overcome its political instability.

    Political Context

    The DRC is still recovering from a series of conflicts that broke out in the 1990s, creating a protracted economic and social slump. Joseph Kabila has been head of state since 2001. Presidential and parliamentary elections, planned initially for November 2016, have been delayed due to an outdated electoral register. Efforts to defuse the political crisis into which the country has been plunged have been made by the African Union's facilitator, Edem Kodjo, and the Congolese episcopate, both acting as mediators between the government and the opposition parties.  An agreement, signed on December 31, 2016, provided for a period of transition, during which power would be exercised jointly by President Joseph Kabila and the opposition until presidential elections were held in late 2017.

    However, the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) issued a calendar in November 2017, pushing back the presidential elections to December 2018, and a controversial draft electoral law was adopted by parliament. Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic church and members of the international community insist  the

    December 31, 2016 Accord” be respected. Demonstrations supporting the implementation of this accord have led to deaths at the hands of the security forces. 

    Economic Overview

    After slowing  from 6.9% in 2015 to 2.4% in 2016, the country's lowest economic growth rate since 2001, , real GDP  is expected to accelerate to 3.4% in 2017, driven by increases in  commodity prices and national mining production, particularly of copper and cobalt, which account for 80% of export revenue.

    Public finances deteriorated in 2016, with a fiscal deficit of -0.3% of GDP, but should record a modest surplus of 0.1% of GDP in 2017 as the government restrains its expenditure to cope with the depletion of international reserves and narrowing of the fiscal space. Adownward trend in domestic revenue since 2014—from 14.3% of GDP to an expected 8.2% of GDP in 2017—has led to a drop in public spending, and affected public investments and social sector spending. Lacking access to domestic and international financial markets, the Government of the DRc has had to drastically reduce public expenditure to contain the deficit and limit monetary financing by the Central Bank.

    Export recovery, combined with the drastic tightening of public spending in 2017, should result in a slight current account deficit decrease to 3.1% of GDP in 2017, from 3.6% of GDP in 2016, easing tension in the foreign exchange market in the second half of 2017, after falling by 28% in the first half of 2017. International reserves at end-2017 stood at 3.8 weeks of imports.  However, this tighter fiscal stance has not curbed inflation, which reached 54.7% at the end of 2017.

    The government has launched sectoral reforms to strengthen governance and transparency in the extractive industries (forestry, mining, and oil sectors) and to improve the business climate. Almost all contracts signed by the government are accessible to the public. The DRC participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and regularly publishes reports on its revenue from natural resources but systematizing the procedures necessary for a competitive process in awarding contracts in mining, oil, and forestry requires additional effort..

    Social Context

    Despite a decrease in the poverty rate, from 71% to 64% of the popuation between 2005 and 2012, the DRC still ranks among the poorest countries in the world at176 out of 187 countries on the most recent Human Development Index calculated by the UN (2015). On top of this, the United Nations estimates that, by January 2018, the DRChosted more than 540,000 refugees, and 4.5 million people were displaced inside the country.. 

    Last Updated: May 16, 2018

  • World Bank Group Engagement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    The Bank re-engaged in the DRC in 2001 after nearly a decade of the suspension of its activities there.

    In recent years, itsDRC portfolio has shifted from emergency assistance to sustainable development. The portfolio comprises 29 projects (including regional integration projects) and 57 trust funds. These commitments total $4.12 billion, of which 45.53% has already been disbursed for national projects. The portfolio is distributed across the various sectors: 63% for infrastructure (transport, energy, urban development, and water); 16% for human development; 15% for development of the private sector and agriculture; and 6% for governance and mining.

    The Bank's current Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for the DRC ended in June 2017,  subject to review.  Itsreview concluded its objectives are still aligned with DRC's development goals, with 10 of 14 expected outcomes likely to be achieved. In November 2016, the Bank had held discussions with various stakeholders with a view to conducting a Systematiountry Diagnostic (SCD). The SCD was completed and shared with the government for comment. The Bank is currently developing a new Country Partnership Framework for 2018—2021. Various consultations with stakeholders have been conducted.

    Last Updated: May 16, 2018

  • Noteworthy changes in key areas are outlined below.

    Health

    As a result of extensive anti-poliomyelitis vaccination campaigns, and the provision of millions of dollars in essential medications, the DRC has succeeded in eradicating polio, as well as in improving access to health care and reducing maternal mortality. The World Bank financed the restoration of more than 500 central dispensaries and hospitals in the provinces of Equateur, Katanga, Maniema, and Bandundu, and the distribution of almost 18 million treated mosquito nets.

    Education

    The Support to Basic Education Program, funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and supervised by the World Bank Group, has increased access and equity in primary education and rehabilitated 728 classrooms. The program has also provided $20 million to procure textbooks in French, mathematics, civic education, and science, as well as building 35 computer labs (or resource centers) for distance and in-service training.

    Infrastructure

    The reopening of 1,530 kilometers of national roads in Province Orientale, South Kivu, and Katanga paved the way for economic recovery in those regions. To date, 36.1% of the country's high-priority road network has been found to be in good condition (against 13.8% in 2009).

    Energy

    World Bank Group financing has increased the power transfer capability of the Inga-Kolwezi-Kassumbalessa transmission line, which contribute to  the reliability of power supply to mines, and provides villages in the Katanga area with access to electricity. In addition, Bank financing rehabilitated production units at the Inga 1 and 2 hydropower plants, bringing back about 455 MW of generation, and improving power transmission to the DRC's capital, Kinshasa.

    To facilitate capacity building in the national electricity company, Société nationale d’électricité (SNEL), the World Bank Group supported the implementation of its performance contract with the Government, the establishment of its new executive board, the recruitment of technical experts, and the implementation of a service contract, as well as the preparation of a recovery plan. As a result, the company’s revenues have increased 30% per kWh.

    Last Updated: May 16, 2018

  • Donors are organized through the Donors Coordination Group (GCP)  to strengthen the dialogue with the Government of the DRC and streamline the actions of development partners. The World Bank actively participates in this group and is developing itsbilateral partnerships. UN–World Bank collaboration has helped achieve important accomplishments in the areas of demobilization of former combatants, as well as in education and health. The Bank, working with UNICEF and USAID, has strengthened government capacity in child protection services. The Bank also leveraged financial support from development agencies in the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium to modernize public financial management and the Congolese public administration.

    Last Updated: May 16, 2018

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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
49, Boulevard Colonel Tshatshi
Kinshasa/Gombe, RDC
+243 999 94 9015
+243 817 00 5215
For general information and inquiries
Franck Sidney Chrysantheme Bitemo
Communications Associate
Brazzaville, Rép. du Congo
+242 05 675 06 99
+242 06 959 39 93
fbitemo@worldbank.org
For project-related issues and complaints
drcalert@worldbank.org