The Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), located in Central Africa, covers 342,000 km2. Its population of 5.7 million 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 residents 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 more than half of GDP and more than 80% of the country’s exports, making it one of the top 10 producers in Africa. The country also has a wealth of mineral resources that remain largely untapped.
President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who headed the country from 1979 to 1992, was returned to power in 1997, and has won all elections since 2002 and, more recently, the March 2021 election. The government of Prime Minister Anatole Collinet Makosso is composed of 37 ministers and is according priority to institutional, economic, financial, social, and inclusive governance.
With a human capital index of 0.42, the country has made little progress in the areas of health and education. Infant mortality remains high at a rate of 36 deaths per 1,000 live births. Only 30% of primary school children have attained the required proficiency levels in math and 40% in French. The electrification rate in urban areas is 66% compared to just 13% in rural areas. Access to clean water is below the country’s hydrological potential, as 74% of households have access to a clean water source, of which only 46% are in rural areas.
The Congolese economy contracted by 3.5% in 2021, leading to an increase in extreme poverty from 51.9% in 2020 to 53.9% 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 the poor in particular. 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 98% at end-2021.
GDP is forecast to grow at a rate of 3.5% in 2022 and 3.8% on average over the period 2023-2024. This outlook is subject to downside and upside risks. Downside risks include uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic and oil production. While a protracted war in Ukraine could increase inflationary pressures in the country, high oil prices could potentially boost the economic recovery.
Last Updated: May 10, 2022