The Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), located in Central Africa, covers 342,000 km2. Its population of 5.7 million people is largely young, with 47% being under age 18. More than half of the population lives in its two main cities — Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. The country is one of the least densely populated in Africa, with 14.8 inhabitants per square kilometer.
Covered mainly by tropical forests, the Republic of Congo also has one of the largest areas of tropical peatlands, a fragile ecosystem that removes carbon from the atmosphere and stores it, thus helping to slow global warming. The oil sector accounts for about half of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 80% of its exports, making it the third largest producer in Sub Saharan Africa. The country also has a wealth of mineral resources that remain largely untapped.
President Denis Sassou Nguesso was reelected in March 2021. He led the country for the first time from 1979 to 1992, returned to power in 1997, and has won all elections since 2002. A new Prime Minister Anatole Collinet Makosso was appointed in May 2021 and is leading a government whose priorities include institutional, economic, financial, social, and inclusive governance.
With a human capital index of 0.42, the Republic of Congo has made little progress in the areas of health and education. Infant mortality remains high at a rate of 33 deaths per 1,000 live births. Only 30% of primary school children have attained the required proficiency levels in math and 40% in French. Access to electricity stands at 66% of the population in urban areas compared to just 15% in rural areas. Access to clean water is below the country’s hydrological potential as 74% of the population has access to a clean water source, while access in rural areas is lower at 46%.
The Congolese economy contracted by 2.2% in 2021, leading to an increase in extreme poverty from 50.2% in 2020 to 52% of the population in 2021. The economic recovery was affected by the fall in oil production in 2021 (-11% on a year-on-year basis).
Headline inflation remained contained at 2.0% in 2021, despite pressures on food prices that rose by about 3.4%, affecting particularly the poor. With the war in Ukraine, food prices have risen further in the first half of 2022, exacerbating food insecurity. Although Congo remains in debt distress, recent debt restructuring agreements, higher oil prices, and improved debt management have restored the sustainability of public debt, which fell from 113% of GDP at end-2020 to 102% at end-2021.
GDP is forecast to grow at a rate of 1.9% in 2022 and 4.1% on average over the period 2023-2024. This outlook is subject to downside and upside risks. Downside risks include uncertainties related to oil production and prices as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. While a protracted war in Ukraine could increase inflationary pressures in the country, high oil prices could potentially boost the economic recovery.
Last Updated: Oct 07, 2022