Buying and Selling

flag Democratic Republic of Congo Democratic Republic of Congo: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Economic Cooperation
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a member of the following organizations:

South African Development Community (SADC)
• World Trade Organisation (WTO)
• Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (ECGLC)
• Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
• Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
• Organisation for Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa (OHADA)
African Union (AU)

Non Tariff Barriers
The Democratic Republic of Congo has several trade barriers, especially caused by high levels of corruption, a multiplicity of administrative agencies with overlapping responsibilities in trade matters, and complex regulations which are poorly codified. Several laws are not fully or consistently implemented, and generally for commercial issues a protracted negotiations with various customs officials is required.
Several products require an import license (alcohol, medicines, weapons, etc.). Concerning pets, a veterinarian health certificate stating that the animals are free from ticks and have not been exposed to contagious diseases is mandatory. Cats and dogs need an additional rabies certificate stating that they have been vaccinated against rabies over a month but less than 12 months before departure.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s tariff structure is composed of three rates: 5% for equipment goods, rough raw materials, agricultural and veterinary supplies, unassembled equipment; 10% for large consumer food items, industrial inputs, spare parts, items for social services such as those for hospitals and disabled persons; 20% for clothing, furniture, cigarettes and other finished products. According to data from the WTO, the average rate of import taxes is 10.9%.
Further levies apply to imports, as follows:
- administrative payment: 2% of the CIF value
- Congolese Control Office (OCC) payments: 1.5% of the CIF value
- Office for Sea Freight Management (OGEFREM) payment: 0.58% of the CIF value
- Funds for the Promotion of Industry (FPI) charge: 2% of the CIF value
- cost of inspection from the Bureau of Inspection, Valuation, Assessment, and Control (BIVAC): 1.5% of the FOB value.
The DRC is also part of the COMESA Free Trade Area, thus goods originating in member countries are zero rated.

Import duties are levied on the cost-insurance-freight (CIF) value of goods imported, at rates ranging from 10% to 20%. Export duties are levied on the free-on-board (FOB) value of goods exported, at rates ranging from 1% to 10%.

Customs Classification
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a member of the World Customs Organisation and does comply with the harmonised customs system.
Import Procedures
Importing goods into the DRC can be a lengthy process, due to onerous regulations and administrative procedures. The Bureau of Inspection, Valuation, Assessment, and Control (BIVAC) is the authorized agent for pre-shipment inspection of goods valued at USD 2,500 or more: following several steps and a quality, quantity and value verification, the exporting country BIVAC office issues a certification of validation and submits it to the importer through BIVAC in the DRC. Such certification (which determines the CIF value) must contain the supplier’s invoice number, the bill of lading number, the number of containers, the import license number and the confirmation of the quantity of the product (documents shall be in French). Furthermore, a commercial invoice, packing lists, bills of lading/air waybill, import license, pro forma invoice, export declaration, an insurance certificate, and often a certificate of origin are also required.
Importing Samples
Commercial samples are exempted from pre-shipment inspections.
For Further Information
Congolese Control Office
General Directorate for Customs and Exices (DGDA)
Business Portal for Africa

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Main Advertising Agencies
Pygma Communication
Ibora Media
Therra Communication

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Currently, there are no reliable figures about the size of the retail market in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to a study by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), 85% of foodstuff in the country is still purchased in the traditional system (proximity stores, small kiosks, etc.). Though the presence of retail chains has been increasing in recent years, in the future traditional shops are expected to maintain their prominent role: by 2040, they are projected to make up between 50 to 70% of the market.
Most supermarket chains in the Democratic Republic of Congo are local, with the exception of the South African Shoprite, which opened a store in the capital Kinshasa in 2012. In fact, foreign retail chains (especially the English-speaking ones) see the business environment in the DRC as very challenging, due to the regulatory constraints, corruption, and difficulties with the French language. Weak infrastructure and the large size of the country also complicate products distribution.
Market share
The main retail chains in the DRC are:
  Alimentation Express
  Hyper Psaro
  City Market
  Extra Food
  Supermarché First
  Jambo Mart
Retail Sector Organisations
Fédération des Entreprises du Congo (FEC)

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Internet access
Data from Internet World Stats (IWS) shows that at the end of 2017, the Democratic Republic of Congo had an internet penetration rate of 6.1%, for a population of more than 80 million people.
The country’s IT infrastructure are poor (especially outside of the bigger cities), and the low level of illiteracy also hampers the growth of the internet sector (while radio and television remain the main media). Less than 1% of internet connections in the country are land line subscriptions, meaning that the country’s mobile phone operators act as internet service providers for both commercial and private use. According to data by We Are Social, 91% of internet users access the web by mobile, 8% by laptop and 1% by tablets. Several operators are already present in the Democratic Republic of Congo, like Airtel, Africell, Vodacom and Orange. Moreover, the country has often  experienced internet and social media shutdowns due to a strict control by the government (in January 2019, for example, internet access was blocked to “preserve public order” following highly-contested presidential election).
The most popular web search engines in the Democratic Republic of Congo are Google (96.8%), Bing and Yahoo (1.5% and 1% respectively).
E-commerce market
The e-commerce market of the Democratic Republic of Congo is limited due to low levels of internet penetration, poor telecommunications infrastructure and high costs of internet services.  Furthermore, the physical infrastructures and the size of the country make goods delivery difficult and/or expensive. Concerning electronic means of payment, though the DRC has one of the world’s lowest banking penetration rate, some banks and enterprises started developing online payment options. Mobile payments are also growing fast, with all telecommunication operators providing online payment platforms to their clients.
Even though companies rarely offer their services or goods online, advertising through social media is becoming more and more common. According to the Digital in 2018 report, the number of Facebook users in the country is estimated at 2.2 million, while Instagram has around 0,2 million users (9 out of 10 users access the internet via mobile).

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Organizing Goods Transport

Ports of the DRC
International airport of Kinshasa (N'djili - FIH)
Sea Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport and Communications - National Transport Office (ONATRA)
Air Transport Organisations
Autorité de l'Aviation Civile de RDC
Road Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport and Communications - National Transport Office (ONATRA)
Rail Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport and Communications - National Transport Office (ONATRA)

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
According to data by the World Bank, agricultural sector contributes 19.9% of GDP, employing an estimated 82% of the workforce, mainly for subsistence agriculture (the main crops being cassava, plantains, maize and coffee). The industrial sector accounts for 41.6% of GDP and employs 11% of the active population, especially in the mining sector (the country’s largest source of export revenue). In fact, the Democratic Republic of Congo is endowed with vast natural resources: beneath its soil (the DRC is Africa's second largest country) there are abundant deposits of copper, gold, diamonds (an estimated 30% of the world’s reserves), uranium, cobalt ore (world's largest producer), coltan, oil, and many other minerals. The tertiary sector contributes 34% of GDP and gives employment to 7% of the workforce.

To search directories by industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo, check out our service Business Directories.

Professional Associations by Sector
1 professional associations listed for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Chambre de commerce (FEC)
CCI France Congo
Chambre de Commerce Belgo Congolaise
General Professional Associations
Fédération des Entreprises du Congo (FEC)

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Latest Update: May 2024