Country Overview

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.

Political Context

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. 

Economic Overview

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.

Social Context

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

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 suspension of its activities due to widespread corruption and growing insecurity.

The new Country Assistance Strategy for the period 2013-2016 aims to (i) increase the efficiency of the State at the central level and decentralize and improve good governance; (ii) enhance the competitiveness of the economy by accelerating growth spearheaded by private sector job creation; (iii) upgrade the delivery of social services in order to improve human development indicators (HDI); and (iv) respond to problems of fragility and conflict in the eastern provinces of the DRC.  Aside from new operations, the strategy will be based primarily on the existing portfolio with the goal enhancing the development impact.

In June 2015, the World Bank’s portfolio in the DRC consisted of 26 projects, representing a total commitment of $3.3 billion, including two regional projects for a total of $1.14 billion. The portfolio consists mainly of infrastructure rehabilitation projects (roads, railways, drinking water, electricity); governance in public finance management in four provinces and in the mining sector; reform of public enterprises and improvement of the business climate; rehabilitation of health and education infrastructure and improvement of health, education, and social protection services; management of national forests and parks; and agriculture.

Last Updated: Nov 19, 2015

Since 2001, various World Bank-financed projects have improved economic and social conditions in the DRC. For example, World Bank support has made noteworthy changes in the following areas:


Access to health care has improved, poliomyelitis has been eradicated, and maternal mortality has been reduced as a result of anti-poliomyelitis vaccination campaigns, widespread child vaccination campaigns, and the provision of millions of dollars in essential medications. The rehabilitation of over 500 health centers and referral hospitals in the provinces of Equateur, Katanga, Maniema, and Bandundu and the distribution of close to 18 million insecticide-treated nets also contributed to these positive outcomes.


Some 918 classrooms were constructed and 14 million textbooks distributed under the Emergency Urban and Social Rehabilitation (PURUS) and the Education Sector Rehabilitation (PARSE) projects. Primary enrolment rates climbed from 64% in 2007 to 93% in 2011, and 43,335 teachers were officially incorporated into the civil service.


Rehabilitation of basic infrastructure contributed to reviving economic recovery through the reopening of 1,530 kilometers of national roads in Province Orientale, South Kivu and Katanga. To date, 36.1% of the high-priority road network has been found to be in good condition (against 13.8% in 2009).


World Bank support helped strengthen the national electricity company (Société nationale d’électricité, SNEL) through the establishment of a new executive board, recruitment of technical experts and managers, and the conclusion of a performance contract with the Government. As a result, the company’s revenues have increased 30% per kWh. The goal of the $1.1 billion World Bank program is to rehabilitate Inga 1 and 2 as well as strengthen the transportation network for electricity exports to the Southern African Power Pool (SAAP). World Bank financing helped rehabilitate the first unit (G2), which is currently functioning and brings an additional 55 MW as well as a compensator at Kimwenza (approximately 30 MW) to the network, in addition to four turbines of the 114 included in Inga 1 and Inga 2.

Governance and public sector capacity building

Dialogue with the authorities is based primarily on the governance matrix adopted in 2010. Significant progress has been made in recent months with regard to the issuance of mining and oil contracts. Almost 80% of contracts and 100% of oil contracts are now issued.

Competitiveness and employment

The Competitiveness and Private Sector Development Project helped, among other things, reduce business start-up times by 50% and reduced the number of taxes from 118 to 30. 

Last Updated: Nov 19, 2015

The World Bank has been working closely with other donors for many years. It is a member of various thematic groups established for the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) implementation, and of inter-donor groups, where it coordinates environmental and governance issues.  This collaboration is also important in the context of several projects such as the multi-donor fund known as PROFIT Congo, established by the World Bank, the Department for International Development (DFID), and the Belgian Development Cooperation, in collaboration with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mission of this $31 million multi-donor fund, which is managed by the World Bank, is to coordinate financing for the national strategy on public finance reform in the DRC. 

Last Updated: Nov 19, 2015