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Overview

  • With a surface area equivalent to that of Western Europe, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). DRC is endowed with exceptional natural resources, including minerals such as cobalt and copper, hydropower potential, significant arable land, immense biodiversity, and the world’s second largest rainforest.

    DRC has the third largest population of poor globally. Poverty in DRC is high, remains widespread and pervasive, and is increasing due to impacts from COVID-19. In 2018, it was estimated that 73% of the Congolese population, equaling 60 million people, lived on less than $1.90 a day (the international poverty rate). As such, about one out of six people living in extreme poverty in SSA - live in DRC.

    Political Context

    Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, the son of Etienne Tshisekedi, the country’s longstanding opposition leader, won the December 2018 presidential election. He succeeded Joseph Kabila, who had led the country for 18 years, in the first peaceful transition of power in the DRC’s history.

    Following President Felix Tshisekedi’s establishment of a new political alliance known as the “Sacred Union”, the former Prime Minister and the head of the Senate stepped down in January and February 2021. On February 15, a week after he was sworn in as Head of the African Union, President Tshisekedi appointed a new Prime Minister, Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge who had served as CEO of Gecamines, the state-owned mining company, since 2019. A new government is expected to be in place in April.

    Economic Situation

    DRC’s economic growth decelerated from its pre-COVID level of 4.4% in 2019, to an estimated 0.8% in 2020. Growth was driven by the extractives sector which, helped by robust demand from China, expanded by 6.9% in 2020 (compared to 1% in 2019). Meanwhile, non-mining sectors contracted by 1.6% (vs. growth of 5.7% in 2019) due to pandemic-related mobility restrictions, weaker trading activities and constrained government spending. Private consumption and government investment fell in 2020 by an estimated 1.0 and 10.2%, respectively.

    The current account deficit widened to 4.0% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 and was only partly financed by capital inflows which led to a decline in international reserves.

    In an effort to respond to the pandemic, the government faced substantial spending pressure while revenue declined due to reduced economic activity and extended fiscal relief measures. As a result, the fiscal deficit worsened to 1.9% of GDP in 2020. For financing, the government initially resorted to Central Bank (BCC) advances until April 2020 and subsequently mobilized emergency support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank (AfDB). It also increased domestic debt issuance and accumulated arrears.  Consequently, the total stock of both external public debt and domestic debt rose in 2020 to an estimated 15.9% and 8.9% of GDP, respectively.

    Although the DRC initiated reforms aimed at strengthening governance in the management of natural resources and improving the business climate, the country is ranked 183 out of 190 countries in the 2020 Doing Business report. Key governance indicators remain weak.

    Social Context and Development Challenges

    On February 7, 2021, a resurgence of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) was reported in Butembo, in the province of North Kivu, where a previous epidemic (EVD10) had been declared over in June 2020. As of March 30, 2021, a total of 12 cases had been confirmed in four provinces: Biena, Butembo, Katwa, and Musienene. A total of four deaths and four recoveries have been recorded. The 11th epidemic of the EVD was officially declared over on November 18, 2020 with 119 confirmed cases and 55 deaths.

    Measures have been in place since March 10, 2020 to contain the spread of COVID-19. As of April 1, 2021, more than 28,000 cases had been confirmed - the majority of which in Kinshasa, though 23 out of 26 provinces have been touched by the pandemic.

    DRC ranks 175 out of 189 countries on the 2020 Human Development Index, though some HCI indicators are estimated to have slightly improved from 2018 to 2020. DRC’s Human Capital Index is 0.37%, below the SSA average of 4.0. This means that a child born in DRC today will be 37% as productive in adulthood as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health in her early years. On average, a Congolese child receives 9.1 years of schooling, though translating into 4.5 years of Learning-adjusted Years of School (2020 estimate). 43% of children are malnourished.

    Last Updated: Apr 02, 2021

  • Since the WBG re-engaged in 2001, the World Bank has financed fifty-five projects in the DRC, with a total committed amount of nearly $9 billion. Out of the $9 billion committed since 2001, $4 billion went to infrastructure investments - with a focus on reconstruction and rehabilitation of basic infrastructure. Investments have spurred economic activities and improved the connectivity and proper functioning of DRC’s high-priority transport corridors, resulting in 71% of the country’s high-priority road network being rehabilitated, maintained, or built out. Energy sector investments have focused on rehabilitating hydropower plants and transmission networks, increasing Inga’s electricity production by 632 MW and augmenting power supply to mines, but with limited investment in the distribution network segment.

    WBG engagement is guided by a Country Partnership Framework (CPF) prepared for a five-to-six year period. A new DRC-WBG CPF for 2021-2026 is currently under preparation. The CPF builds on extensive analysis of WBG engagements in DRC since 2001 and key analytical work, including a 2018  Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD), a 2021 update to a DRC Risk and Resilience Assessment, spatial analysis, poverty analysis, and a 2020 CPSD. Government priorities and input from consultations will be carried forward and reflected in the CPF structure and proposed program. The forthcoming CPF and engagements supported under the framework will have a strong focus on addressing drivers of fragility, conflict, and violence. There will also be a focus on mitigating impacts from COVID-19 and building resilience to shocks and on climate. The World Bank is proposing to adopt a territorial development approach in the DRC, focusing on provinces that have high population density, high concentration of poor and are affected by conflict and violence. Furthermore, the World Bank is proposing to engage through large, multi-sector projects that aim to achieve synergies and provide holistic development responses. The WBG will also support reform agendas in a new generation of infrastructure investment projects that aim to bring in the private sector. Starting in FY20, during which the World Bank committed $1.65 billion to social sectors, World Bank engagements in the DRC focus on social sectors and human capital development, strengthening governance and supporting key reform initiatives. To support the implementation of this approach, the World Bank has opened liaison offices in Goma in North Kivu province, and in Kananga, in the Kasaï Central province.

    As of March 1, 2021, the World Bank portfolio in the DRC totaled $4.8 billion, with 20 national projects ($4.23 billion) and four regional projects ($565 million). Engagements span key development areas, including: economic management, governance, and private sector development; human capital (health, education, social protection); sustainable development (infrastructure and connectivity, agriculture and food security, access to electricity and water, urban development); women’s empowerment and prevention and response to Gender-Based Violence.

    On April 2, 2020, the World Bank approved a $47.2 million emergency operation to help the country respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, a Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) allocation of $13 million for COVID-19 has been approved. Further support for vaccine purchase and distribution is under preparation.

    Last Updated: Apr 02, 2021

  • HUMAN CAPITAL

    Social protection

    Building on the success of the Eastern Recovery Project (STEP), additional financing for “STEP 2”, continues to support the restructuring of the social protection sector, while financing a comprehensive safety nets program. Results include:

    • providing temporary employment to more than 6,800 vulnerable people beneficiaries in 27 communities of Kasai central, 50% of whom are women;
    • rehabilitating and/or building 26 schools (nearly 200 classrooms).

    STEP 2 is also supporting the government’s efforts in mitigating the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on vulnerable households in Kinshasa.

    Additionally, an Ebola emergency social response program has provided temporary employment for more than 26,937 people in nine affected health zones of eastern DRC, 55% of whom are women.

    INFRASTUCTURE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

    Infrastructure

    • The High-Priority Roads Reopening and Maintenance Project (Pro-Routes) has rehabilitated more than 3,000 kilometers of roads in the country’s northern and western regions, reviving economic activity. The project also provided access to an all-weather road for more than 6 million rural residents.
    • The regional Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project has improved border infrastructure and operating environment for small-scale traders at four locations in North and South Kivu, and supported associations for small-scale traders to continue to trade across borders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Energy

    Under the ongoing Electricity Access and Service Expansion project:

    • Nearly 200,000 people have gained access to electricity from the grid in Kinshasa and Goma. The number is expected to rise significantly, as major works began to rehabilitate and expand the distribution network in the central and western communes of Kinshasa.
    • Over 9,500 households were equipped with solar home systems, as off-grid solar private operators start to roll out solar kits and lanterns, thanks to results-based subsidies provided through the project financing
    • Start up support was provided to the recently established electricity regulator (Autorité de Régulation du secteur de l’Electricité) and rural and peri-urban electrification agency (Agence Nationale de l’électrification et des Services Energétiques en milieu Rural et Peri-urbain). Further support will be provided to help these important agencies become operational.  
    • The development of a national geospatial electrification plan along with an investment prospectus for the first five years, and prefeasibility studies to electrify 21 provincial capital cities is nearing completion.

    Water

    Under the World Bank Urban Drinking Water Supply Project (PEMU):

    • More than 75,000 new private connections and more than 450 new standpipes were installed in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, and Matadi, providing drinking water access to over 2.7 million people.
    • REGIDESO’s operational and financial performance was strengthened.

    Urban

    The Urban Development Project (PDU) has contributed to:

    • Improved connectivity and livability for about 290,000 persons in eight secondary urban centers through upgrading of more than 27 kilometers of roads.
    • Improved urban governance through technical assistance and performance-based investments.
    • Investing to stop fast advancing erosions in Kananga that threaten main infrastructure (airport, railway, markets).

    Forests and Climate Change

    Under a World Bank Improved Forested Landscape Management Project (IFLMP):

    • 17,000 hectares of agroforestry plantations established on degraded lands in western DRC to provide the city of Kinshasa with more sustainable charcoal and agricultural commodities
    • 19,000 hectares of exclosures established and maintained to protect land areas from bush fires and facilitate natural regeneration.
    • 15,700 rural households benefiting from payment for ecosystem services and non-monetary benefits, with a 18% increase in their income.
    • 80,000 efficient cookstoves distributed with improved climate and health benefits.
    • 5.4 million tCO2eq emission reduced through the above results.

    Last Updated: Apr 02, 2021

  • The World Bank is a member of the Donor Coordination Group that aims to harmonize development partner activities in the field. It is working closely with the UN, UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, USAID, the Agence française de développement (AFD), the British Development Agency (DFID), GIZ/KFW and the Belgian Cooperation Agency.

    Last Updated: Apr 02, 2021

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