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  • With a surface area equivalent to that of Western Europe, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa.  While its poverty rate has fallen slightly over the past two decades, particularly in rural areas, the DRC nonetheless remains one of the poorest countries in the world. In 2018, 72% of the population, especially in the North West and Kasaï regions, was living in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 a day.

    Political Context

    The DRC is still recovering from a series of conflicts that broke out in the 1990s. After several postponements of the presidential elections, Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo—the son of Etienne Tshisekedi, the country’s longstanding opposition leader—won the December 2018 election, succeeding Joseph Kabila who had been at the country’s helm for 18 years.

    Economic Situation

    • After reaching 5.8% in 2018, economic growth slowed to 4.4% in 2019, owing to the drop in commodity prices, particularly for cobalt and copper, which account for over 80% of the country’s exports.
    • The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is expected to trigger an economic recession (-2.2%) in 2020, stemming from weaker exports caused by the global economic downturn. However, the gradual recovery of global economic activity and the start of production at the Kamoa-Kakula mine should pave the way for a rebound in economic growth to 4.5% in 2022.
    • Higher spending and revenue stagnation widened the fiscal deficit from close to balance in 2018 to a deficit of 2% of GDP in 2019. Additional public expenditures covered mainly civil service salary increases, free basic education, and infrastructure projects. Declining tax revenues are attributable in part to low corporate income tax collection, especially in the mining sector.
    • The latest sustainability estimates show that the debt risk remains moderate. However, fairly weak revenues are limiting the government’s flexibility to implement fiscal policies aimed at tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • The current account deficit widened to 4.2% of GDP in 2019 (against 3.6% of GDP in 2018), owing to the deterioration in the terms of trade and lower export volumes. Capital inflows and other financial flows in 2019, including foreign direct investments (FDI), have helped protect official reserves, limit the depreciation of the Congolese franc, and curb inflation.
    • Although the DRC initiated reforms aimed at strengthening governance in the management of natural resources and improving the business climate, the country is ranked 184 out of 190 countries in the Doing Business 2019  report on business regulations and must address a host of challenges if it hopes to attract investors in key sectors.

    Social Context and Development Challenges

    • The DRC is making headway against the Ebola epidemic, which has been raging for almost two years in the Nord Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri provinces, where 3,453 cases and over 2,200 deaths have been reported.
    • The country has also been battling the COVID-19 pandemic since March 10, 2020 and is currently implementing urgent measures to contain its spread.
    • The DRC ranks 135 out of 157 countries in terms of human capital, with a   human capital index  score of 0.37%, which is below the average in Sub-Saharan Africa (0.40). This means that a child born today will be 37% less productive in adulthood than a child who received a complete education and proper health care. Congolese children spend an average of 9.2 years in school and 43% of children are malnourished.

    Currently, 43% of households have access to drinking water (69% in urban areas, 23% in rural areas) and only 20% have access to sanitation. With an average of 6.1 children per woman, the DRC’s fertility rate is higher than the Sub-Saharan average (4.8). The early childbearing rate is equally high, with 125.24 births per 1,000 adolescent girls (15-19 years).

    Last Updated: May 04, 2020

  • The World Bank reengaged with the DRC in 2001, after nearly a decade of suspension of its activities, gradually shifting from emergency assistance to a sustainable development strategy.

    World Bank Group engagement in the DRC is guided by a Country Partnership Framework  that is reassessed and renewed on average every four to five years. The World Bank is currently drafting its new Country Partnership Framework for the 2020-2024 period, following its preparation of the Systematic Country Diagnostic of the economic and social situation in the DRC. The World Bank Group has adopted a new multisectoral approach in smaller geographic areas with concentrated poverty, in order to facilitate monitoring of project activities and make a greater impact.

    It will conduct activities in 26 provinces, which account for a mere 20% of the territory, but are home to 50% of the country’s poorest residents.  This geographic selection is based on a data analysis of poverty concentration, economic corridors, accessibility, and fragility.  In this connection, the World Bank opened a liaison office in Goma in Nord Kivu province and plans to open another in Kananga, in Kasaï Central province.

    As of September 1, 2019, the World Bank was financing 27 national projects and 4 regional projects valued at a total of $3.9 billion. These projects cover many key development areas:

    • Human capital: health, women’s empowerment, social protection, and education;
    • Sustainable development: infrastructure and connectivity, agriculture and food security, access to electricity and water, and urban development;
    • Governance and private sector development

    On April 2, 2020, the World Bank provided $47 million in emergency financing to help the country respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Last Updated: May 04, 2020



    The Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) has supported the Ebola response. As a result of this support:

    • five times as many patients are seeking free health care services;
    • 1,800 health care workers are receiving hazard pay;
    • 10 Ebola treatment centers, 7 mobile labs, 21 decontamination teams and 75 teams that provide psychosocial support to patients’ families were established;
    • 83,517 people  were vaccinated against the virus.

    The Health System Strengthening Project, which targets mothers and children in 11 provinces and covers close to 30.5 million residents, has:

    • subsidized 2,990 healthcare facilities in 185 health zones, directly benefiting 21.3 million people;
    • increased the assisted delivery rate from 65% to 90% between 2017 and 2018;
    • increased the percentage of prenatal consultations from 49% to 67%;
    • increased tetanus vaccination rates for pregnant women from 37% to 60%.


    The Basic Education Support Project (PROSEB) has:

    • rehabilitated 858 classrooms;
    • distributed over 22 million textbooks;
    • established 35 computer labs for continuing and distance education for teachers;
    • increased the net intake rate in the first grade of primary education from 44.5% to 85.4% between 2013 and 2017.

    Social protection

    The Eastern Recovery Project (STEP) has:

    • rehabilitated more than 850 community infrastructure facilities;
    • created more than 1.3 million days of paid work for vulnerable persons;
    • equipped 45,000 households with improved pastoral technologies; 
    • strengthened the capacity of close to 5,000 members of the local development committees (CLD).

    An Ebola emergency social response program provided temporary employment for more than 14,500 persons in 7 affected health zones.



    The High-Priority Roads Reopening and Maintenance Project (Pro-Routes) achieved the following:

    • More than 3,000 kilometers of roads were rehabilitated in the country’s northern and western regions, reviving economic activity.
    • More than 6 million rural residents now have access to an all-weather road.
    • 45% of the country’s major roads are in good condition (compared to 15% in 2009).


    The Regional and Domestic Power Markets Development Project (PMEDE) and the Southern Africa Power Market  Project (SAPMP) achieved the following results:

    • The Inga 1 and 2 hydropower plants, which serve Kinshasa, were upgraded to increase their power generation capacity by approximately 630 MW.
    • More than 2,000 kilometers of high-voltage direct current lines were installed between Inga, Kolwezi, and Kasumbalesa to transmit power generated in Inga to Katanga.


    Under the Urban Drinking Water Supply Project (PEMU):

    • More than 65,000 new private connections were installed in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, and Matadi. Over 420 new standpipes were installed in Kinshasa, providing drinking water access to 2.3 million people.
    • REGIDESO’s operational and financial performance improved.

    Last Updated: May 04, 2020

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

    Last Updated: May 04, 2020



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