The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a country with vast resources. Its spans a surface area of 2.3 million square kilometers, the equivalent of two-thirds of the European Union. According to the latest NSI (National Statistics Institute) estimates, fewer than 40% of the nearly 70 million inhabitants live in urban areas. 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.
The country is recovering from a series of conflicts that broke out in the 1990s creating a protracted economic and social slump. In 1999, the Lusaka Peace accords brokered peace, paving the way to recover and the establishment of new institutions, such as Parliament, the Senate, and provincial assemblies. In 2011, Joseph Kabila and his party won the presidential and legislative elections despite concerns about the transparency of the electoral process. The next presidential elections are slated for 2016.
Although the security situation is improving, it 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.
The new electoral cycle, with municipal, local, and provincial elections that was planned for October 2015 was postponed. The entire electoral process is delayed and presidential and legislative elections planned for November 2016 have yet to be confirmed. President Kabila has called for a national political dialogue with the five following outlined priorities: (i) credible and inclusive voters’ list, (ii) review of the electoral calendar, (iii) security of the electoral process, (iv) financing of the elections and (v) the role of international partners. The objective of the dialogue is to reach a consensus on various questions in order to lay down a new foundation for forthcoming 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 7.7% during the 2010-2014 period, and of 7.7% in 2015, both of which are well above the average in Sub-Saharan Africa. This performance is driven by robust extractive industries and related investments despite the global economic slowdown and the decline in the demand and price for minerals exported by the DRC. Public investments have also helped spur growth. Inflation, which posted a staggering 53% in 2009, has been maintained around 1% over the period 2013-2015, down from 3% in 2012 and 10% in 2010 as a result of the implementation of prudent fiscal and monetary policies.
The economy is expected to continue to grow at an estimated rate of around 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 drive 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 is among the poorest countries in the world and was ranked 176 out of 187 countries on the Human Development in 2015, 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: Apr 08, 2016