Overview

  • Country Overview

    The largest Francophone country in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) , endowed with vast natural resources, has nearly 80 million inhabitants, fewer than 40% of whom live in urban areas. With 80 million hectares of arable land and over 1,100 listed minerals and precious metals, the DRC has the potential to become one of the richest economies on the continent and a driver of African growth, if it can overcome its political instability and improve governance.

    Political Context

    The DRC is still recovering from a series of conflicts that broke out in the 1990s, creating a protracted economic and social slump. Joseph Kabila served as head of state between 2001 and 2019. Presidential and parliamentary elections, initially slated for November 2016, were postponed until December 30, 2018 to facilitate an overhaul of the electoral register. Felix Antoine Tshisekedi—the son of Etienne Tshisekedi, the country’s longstanding opposition leader—secured 38.5% of the vote and was declared the winner by the national independent electoral commission.  This victory was contested, including by the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), which had deployed 40,000 election observers. CENCO’s data had predicted that Martin Fayulu would win 62.8% of the vote, defeating the ruling party’s candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary (17.99%) and Felix Tshisekedi (15%).

     

    Economic Overview

    In 2018, the DRC emerged from the economic recession triggered by the decline in the global prices of its main export commodities between 2015 and mid-2017. The economy continued to expand, growing at a rate of 4.1% in 2018, up from 3.7% in 2017 and 2.4% in 2016—the country’s weakest performance since 2001. This economic rebound was largely driven by the recovery in mining activity and strong world copper and cobalt prices, following an upturn in global demand for these products.

    Public financial management was also strengthened in 2018 through continued cash-based budget management and improved domestic resource mobilization. Owing to tighter public expenditure control—despite higher spending related to the elections—and an increase in direct tax revenue from the mining sector, the overall budget surplus of 0.4% of GDP in 2017 increased to 1.3% of GDP in 2018, after three consecutive years of deficits. However, public social and investment spending is still low and inadequate to ensure more sustained and inclusive growth in the medium and long term.

    Despite increased mining exports, the current account deficit widened from 2.9% of GDP in 2017 to 3.9 % of GDP in 2018. This deterioration in the country’s investment position is mainly due to the largest increase in imports of goods and services related to the rise in mining investments and to election expenses in the second half of 2018. The current account deficit has nonetheless been more than offset by net financial flows, primarily for the mining sector—in the form of foreign direct investments—triggering a balance of payments surplus of 1.3% of GDP. This enabled the country to maintain the level of international reserves and stabilize the Congolese franc exchange rate, thereby helping to significantly contain inflationary pressures observed over the past two years. The value of the Congolese Franc depreciated by only 5.9% in 2018, compared to 31% in 2017, while inflation plummeted from 54.8% in 2017 to 7.2% in 2018.

    The Government has also launched several sector reforms to boost governance in the management of natural resources and improve the business climate. Virtually all mining, oil, and forestry contracts awarded by the Government are now accessible to the public. The DRC participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and regularly publishes reports on revenues earned from natural resources. Mining and oil and gas legislation was also amended to enable the State to further benefit from harnessing these resources. However, systematizing the procedures necessary for a competitive process in awarding mining, oil, and forestry contracts requires additional effort on the part of the Government. Reforms instituted to improve the business climate include laws on public-private partnerships, the liberalization of the insurance sector, and telecommunications.

    Social Context

    Economic growth between 2005 and 2012 was associated with a moderate reduction in poverty in the DRC. During this period, the poverty rate fell by 5.3 percentage points from 69.3% in 2005 to 64% in 2012. Although poverty is a rural phenomenon in most African countries, the poverty reduction rate in the DRC was slightly higher in rural areas (5.6 percentage points compared to 4.1 percentage points in urban areas).

    In 2012, 77% of the population was living in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 a day. The most recent World Bank estimates put the extreme poverty rate in the DRC at 73% in 2018, one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa, placing it ahead of only Nigeria.  Extreme poverty is concentrated in the northwestern and Kasai regions,

    and the country has been grappling with an Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces since August 2018. The prevailing instability and insecurity in this region are hampering the Ebola response. As of June 13, 2019, the World Health Organization had identified 2,084 cases (1,990 confirmed and 94 probable cases). There have been 1,405 deaths, mainly among women (57%) and children (29%).

    Last Updated: Apr 20, 2019

  • World Bank Group Engagement in the DRC

     

    The Bank re-engaged in the DRC in 2001 after nearly a decade of suspension of its activities.

    In recent years, its DRC portfolio has shifted from emergency assistance to sustainable development, and currently comprises 29 projects (including regional projects) and 57 trust funds. These commitments total $4.12 billion, 45.53% of which has already been disbursed for national projects. The portfolio is distributed as follows: 63% for infrastructure (transport, energy, urban development, and water), 16% for human development, 15% for private sector development and agriculture, and 6% for governance and mining.

    The World Bank Group’s current Country Assistance Strategy for the DRC was evaluated. In November 2016, the Bank held discussions with the various stakeholders with a view to preparing a Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD). This SCD was finalized and shared with the Government for comment. The Bank is currently drafting a new Country Partnership Framework for 2019-2021.

     

    Last Updated: Apr 20, 2019

  • Noteworthy changes in key areas are outlined below.

     

    Health

    The health sector is being supported by several World Bank-financed programs, including the Health System Strengthening Project, which targets mothers and children in 11 provinces and covers close to 30.5 million people. This project is subsidizing 2,990 health facilities in 185 health zones. Some 21.3 million persons across all project intervention areas are directly benefiting from the project’s activities. Between 2017 and 2018, delivery rates soared from 65% to 90%, parental consultations increased from 49% to 67%, and tetanus vaccinations for pregnant women (VAT2+) climbed from 37% to 60%.  The World Bank is also providing substantial support to the Ebola response, covering over 65% of financial needs.

    Education

    The rehabilitation of 858 classrooms, the distribution of more than 22 million textbooks, and the establishment of 35 computer-equipped rooms for continuing and distance training for teachers increased access to quality primary education.

    Between 2013 and 2017, the net intake rate in grade 1 jumped from 44.5% to 85.4% and from 63.5% to 80.1% in provinces with the highest dropout rates (Equateur and Kasai). Over this same period, the gender parity index increased by 6% and 14%.

     

    Infrastructure

    The reopening of over 3,000 kilometers of national roads in northern and eastern provinces paved the way for economic recovery in these regions. More than six million rural residents now have access to an all-weather road. To date, 45% of the country’s high-priority road network is in good condition (against 15% in 2009).

    Energy

    World Bank Group financing has helped boost power production and improve power transmission to a number of major cities. Several production units at the Inga 1 and 2 hydropower plants have been rehabilitated, and another headrace with an intake was constructed. These projects have increased the power supply by roughly 630MW and ensured the functioning of all units, even during the dry season, thereby improving power transmission to Kinshasa. The transmission line from Inga to Kolwezi and Kasumbalesa (border with Zambia) was also rehabilitated, with the installation of over 2,000 kilometers of fiber optics, facilitating the transmission of generated electricity to Katanga. World Bank financing also helped launch works to improve the distribution grid in Kinshasa and to build and electrify schools, health centers, and drinking water supply systems in seven villages in the former Katanga province.

    Last Updated: Apr 20, 2019

  • Donors are organized through the Donors Coordination Group (GCP)  to strengthen the dialogue with the Government of the DRC and streamline the actions of development partners. The World Bank actively participates in this group and is developing itsbilateral partnerships. UN–World Bank collaboration has helped achieve important accomplishments in the areas of demobilization of former combatants, as well as in education and health. The Bank, working with UNICEF and USAID, has strengthened government capacity in child protection services. The Bank also leveraged financial support from development agencies in the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium to modernize public financial management and the Congolese public administration.

    Last Updated: Apr 20, 2019

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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
49, Boulevard Colonel Tshatshi
Kinshasa/Gombe, RDC
+243 999 94 9015
+243 817 00 5215
For general information and inquiries
▌Louise Mekonda Engulu
Sr. Communications Officer
+243 999 94 9015
▌Franck Bitemo
Communications Officer
+243 972 20 2165
+243 817 00 5215
drcinfo@worldbank.org
For project-related issues and complaints
drcalert@worldbank.org