Overview

  • With a population of 5.2 million (2018) over a surface area of 342,000 km2, the Republic of Congo is sparsely populated, with more than half of the population concentrated in its two largest cities, Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. The rest of the country is one of the least densely populated areas in Africa, with just 12.8 persons per square kilometer.

    Largely covered by tropical forests, the Republic of Congo also possesses vast expanses of unused arable land that represent approximately one third of its total area. Moreover, the country ranks among the top 10 of Africa’s oil producers and has substantial mineral resources, the majority of which are yet untapped. 

    Political Context

    President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who led the People's Republic of the Congo from 1979 to 1992, returned to power in 1997. He won the presidential elections in 2002, 2009, and 2016.

    In November 2017, a ceasefire agreement was signed between the Congolese Government and representatives of the former rebel leader, Frédéric Bintsamou (known as Pastor Ntoumi), who had reignited a rebellion in the department of Pool following the 2016 presidential elections.

    Peace and security have since gradually returned, while the government and the international community strive to consolidate the still-fragile peace in this southern department of the country. A disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) program established under the control of the United Nations is expected to be launched soon.

    Economic Overview

    • After the profound economic crisis that plagued the country from mid-2014 following the decline in oil prices, the Congolese economy resumed an upward trajectory in 2018 with real GDP growth projected to reach 1.6% after two years of negative growth.
    • Growth was driven by the increase in oil production and by favorable market conditions, with oil prices holding steady in late 2018 and the resumption of demand from partner emerging countries.
    • Nevertheless, the non-oil sector continues to decline, contracting by 5.5% as a result of the weakening of activity in construction and public works, transport, and telecommunications.
    • Inflation remained contained at 1.2% in 2018 owing to weak domestic demand and a tightening monetary policy. The country's debt burden has decreased, but remains unsustainable despite the signature of a debt restructuring agreement with China in April 2019. The country will also have to restructure its domestic debt and other commercial debt with oil traders.
    • Economic growth is projected to reach 5.4% in 2019, then continue its trajectory, gaining an average of 1.8% per year for the period 2020-21. This outlook is based on a strong hydrocarbon sector and the upturn in investments from 17.1% of GDP in 2018 to 22.7% of GDP in 2019-21, assuming favorable oil prices and budget surpluses.
    • During the same period, non-oil growth, driven primarily by industry, construction, and agriculture, is expected to average 3%, hinging on restoring the confidence of the private sector and implementing structural reforms aligned with the economic and financial program of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC).

    Development Challenges

    • Although the proportion of the population living below the poverty line fell from 51% in 2005 to 41% in 2011, the extreme poverty rate appears to have increased from 2016, especially in rural areas, as a result of the decline in oil prices.
    • The poorest 65% of Congolese citizens live in the six regions in the south of the country. Less than 4.9% of them are covered by the social protection programs.
    • Congo’s human capital index stands at 0.42, which is below the average for middle-income countries. Despite a slight uptick in per capita income, the country has seen little progress in the areas of health and education. Maternal and infant mortality rates remain highwith 5% of children not making it to their fifth birthday. Chronic malnutrition affects 21% of children, and only 30% of primary students have achieved the required proficiency level in mathematics, 40% in French.
    • Moreover, ranked 180 of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report, which measures business regulation, the Republic of Congo would benefit from improving its governance to attract more private investors.

    Last Updated: Oct 21, 2019

  • The National Development Plan for the period 2018-2022 aims to improve governance, strengthen human capital, and diversify the economy.

    The World Bank Group is in the process of developing its new Country Partnership Framework with Congo for the 2020-24 period. Aligned with the government’s objectives, this strategy aims to help Congo improve economic management, create an enabling environment for economic diversification, and strengthen its human capital and basic service provision, particularly in the areas of health, education, and social protection.

    The World Bank is currently financing 10 national projects to the tune of $451 million.

    The World Bank Group is exploring alternative funding mechanisms for large infrastructure projects, such as collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and through the use of public-private partnerships.

    Last Updated: Oct 21, 2019

  • The demand for results is a fundamental precept at the World Bank Group. The following is an overview of the key results achieved in the implementation of World Bank-financed projects.

    Economy and governance

    The Water, Electricity, and Urban Development Project (PEEDU), which aims to improve access to water and electricity in the two largest cities in the Republic of Congo, achieved the following:

    • 1.4 million people are benefiting from improved sanitation services and access to safe drinking water and electricity.
    • Customer billing and collection have improved, with an increase in the collection rate from 47% to 79% between 2010 and 2018.

    The Agricultural Development and Rural Roads Rehabilitation Project (PDARP), which aims to increase agricultural production and improve market access, has resulted in the following:

    • 1,331 km of rural roads and 41 market infrastructures have been built to serve 221 villages, thus connecting 30,000 beneficiaries to markets;
    • Approximately 50% of farmers in targeted areas have adopted improved production and processing technologies, which has helped boost incomes for 45% of them;
    • 910 farmers’ groups received support (11,392 producers, 51% of whom are women) to increase their agricultural production. In particular, yields of banana and manioc, two of the country’s key staples, have doubled.

    The Support to Economic Diversification Project (PADE) has accomplished the following:

    • 481 small and medium enterprises received support to improve management and productivity in seven targeted value chains and to increase their access to markets through improved products, services, and processes.

    The World Bank’s regional telecommunications program, Central African Backbone - Congo component (CAB CIT CG), coupled with technical assistance, helped strengthen the regulatory environment and infrastructure development in the information and communications technologies (ICT) sector:

    • Competition among private investors for telecommunications infrastructure construction sites has helped lower the wholesale price of broadband lines from $3,200 to $1,416 between 2010 and 2018;
    • Construction and installation of the fiber optic network between Pointe-Noire and Mbinda has been completed. The network has been connected to Gabon’s, improving Congo’s international connectivity with its neighbors.

    The World Bank Group is providing technical assistance to the Congolese Government to help boost the competitiveness of public procurement. This collaboration has achieved the following:

    • Capacity development of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Autorité de régulation des marchés publics ARMP) and improvement of monitoring by expanding the range of indicators and parameters, facilitating the improvement of procurement quality and contract management. Based on a 2014-15 audit report, at least 80% of recent procurement contracts were awarded following a bidding process. The proportion of ministries with a procurement office and an approved procurement plan increased from 75% in 2012 to 86% in 2014. In 2015, 27 of 101 contracting entities had an approved, published procurement plan.

    Human capital and social protection

    The World Bank Group supported the establishment of an innovative safety net system. The Lisungi Project achieved the following:

    • A social registry was created, which helped identify 41,153 households in a number of zones that were eligible for social safety nets and other human development programs;
    • By June 2017, 3,455 households had received a quarterly cash transfer over 24 months, benefiting more than 46,000 people;
    • The cash transfer program is benefiting 6,499 elderly people (1,361 of whom live alone);
    • By June 2017, almost 10,000 social insurance cards had been delivered to extremely poor households, providing free access to health centers.

    Owing to its performance-based financing approach, the Second Health System Strengthening Project for Republic of Congo (PDSS II) achieved the following:

    • Supported public and private health centers in 7 of Congo's 12 provinces, covering approximately 48% of the population.

    Environment

    Lastly, the World Bank Group assisted the Government of Congo with the implementation of a REDD+ program aimed at reducing emissions resulting from forest deforestation and degradation in order to mitigate climate change effects and promote more sustainable economic growth in Congo. The technical support provided helped Congo prequalify for a total of $114 million from various REDD+ trust funds.

    Last Updated: Oct 21, 2019

  • The World Bank Group, the European Union, the Agence française de développement, and the African Development Bank are the Republic of Congo’s key financial partners. All are working toward promoting economic diversification, improving the business climate, developing the health and education sectors, and strengthening social protection. The United Nations and the Development Bank of the Central African States (BDEAC) are also active in the country. Lastly, the International Monetary Fund and the Congolese authorities signed an economic recovery support program in July 2019.

    Last Updated: Oct 21, 2019

Api


LENDING

Republic of the Congo: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


PHOTO GALLERY

More Photos Arrow

In Depth

Empowering Women = Growth

The latest Africa’s Pulse says initiatives to empower poor people, women and girls are essential to progress.

CPIA Africa

Africa’s poorest countries saw little to no progress on average in improving the quality of their policy and institutional frameworks in 2018.

IDA in Africa

With IDA’s help, hundreds of millions of people have escaped poverty—through the creation of jobs, access to clean water, schools, roads, nutrition, electricity, and more.

World Bank Africa Multimedia

Watch, listen and click through the latest videos, podcasts and slideshows highlighting the World Bank’s work in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Doing Business in Republic of the Congo

The Doing Business report provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement. See where your country ranks.

Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
BDEAC Building, 2nd Floor
Denis Sassou Nguesso Boulevard
Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
+242 05 550 30 55
+242 06 852 53 62
For general information and inquiries
Franck Bitemo
Communications Officer
+242 05 675 06 99
+242 06 959 39 93
fbitemo@worldbank.org
For project-related issues and complaints
congoalert@worldbank.org