flag Congo Congo: Investing

In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in Congo | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Investment Opportunities


FDI in Figures

FDI flows to the Republic of Congo have been increasing regularly in recent years. Like many countries in the region, the Congo is rich in oil and other raw materials, and is largely affected by the fall in natural resources global prices. According to the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2021, FDI inflows increased by 19% from USD 3.4 billion to USD 4 billion between 2019 and 2020, despite the global health and economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, the stock of FDI was estimated at USD 33 billion. According to UNCTAD’ Investment Trends Monitor, global FDI flows rebounded strongly in 2021, but FDI flows to African countries (excluding South Africa) rose only moderately. The country's natural resources constitute its main asset. In particular, investment in the country has been buoyed by flows into offshore oil fields after the completion of phase 2 of the licensing round of available oil blocks in 2019. Oil and timber are the main sectors attracting FDI. Recently, the emphasis has been on the mining sector, which attracts a growing number of investors. Moreover, in a few years, the country will play an important role in the core of the Central African region due to the modernisation of its transport passageway between Brazzaville and Pointe Noire. China is the major investor in the country, followed by France, the United States and other European countries.

The country has been ranked 180th worldwide, for the ease of doing business in the latest available Doing Business Report published by the World Bank. The main achievement for the Congo is the improvement of  access to credit information by the establishment of a framework through the Central African Economic and Monetary Community for the licensing and operation of credit bureaus (Doing Business, World Bank). Although the State has adopted some reforms, such as reducing property transfer fees or establishing rules to settle conflicts arising from contract execution, and enacting a new investment law, the economy is still not much favourable to foreign investments. The country is rich in natural resources, strategically positioned in Central Africa, with a 170-kilometer long coastal front, but its political instability, inadequate infrastructure, high cost of labour and raw materials, as well as low productivity are factors that discourage foreign investors. The oil companies TotalEnergies, Chevron and SNPC have invested a total of EUR 10 billion in the Moho Nord oil field where production started in March 2017 (with a capacity of 140,000 barrels per day). Lately, China has been playing an increasingly important role in the reconstruction of the country's port, road, rail and electricity infrastructure.

Foreign Direct Investment 201920202021
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 3,3664,0163,691
FDI Stock (million USD) 28,94632,96236,653
Number of Greenfield Investments* 110
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 381050

Source: UNCTAD - Latest available data.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

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What to consider if you invest in Congo

Strong Points

Among the factors that make the Republic of the Congo an attractive destination for FDIs, there are:

  • abundant natural resources (oil, iron ore, potassium, phosphates, wood)
  • great agricultural potential (out of the ten million hectares of fertile land, only two million are currently cultivated)
  • member of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC), and the World Trade Organization (WTO)
  • a small but heavily urbanized population
  • the fact that the government is trying to diversify the economy (with the goal of becoming an emerging market economy by 2025) and developing the country’s infrastructure
  • four foreign trade zones (the so-called “special economic zones – SEZs”), are expected to become operative shortly
  • no legal restrictions or limitations on converting, transferring or repatriating funds associated with an investment.
Weak Points

The Republic of the Congo is not yet an attractive FDIs destination due to several reasons:

  • periodic internal political and security risks, coupled with poor economic governance and lack of economic diversification (highly dependent on oil exports)
  • almost half of the population lives under the poverty line and a high level of unemployment (10.27% in 2020 according to the World Bank)
  • inconsistent electricity and water supply and weak IT infrastructure
  • an overall poor business environment: the ROC was ranked 180 out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business rankings (losing four positions compared to the previous year) and 165th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2020
  • various ministries have regulatory authority over the individual industries in their area of responsibility, and local authorities may impose additional regulations or requirements which are hard to predict
  • high risks of corruption and lack of transparency.
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
The government of the Republic of the Congo is trying to attract foreign investments through various initiatives, including the creation of special economic zones, the establishment of the Agency for the Promotion of Investments (API) and the signing of several bilateral investment agreements (for instance with the U.S., France, China, Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea, Switzerland and the U.K.).
Furthermore, if a potential investment is estimated to be able to create jobs in the country, preferential tax and customs treatment may be granted (by submitting a request to the Ministry of Finance’s National Committee on Investments, which meets annually). Incentives may include a 50% reduction in business registration fees; and accelerated depreciation under the general tax structures. If at least 25% of a company’s shares are owned by domestic entities, further incentives may apply (such as a reduced dividend tax at 10%, capital gains tax reductions, deductions for business expenditures, reduced rents, etc.).
The Congolese labour code requires that the top manager of all companies be a Congolese national, however, this requirement has frequently been waived for multinational companies.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Foreign private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity in the Republic of the Congo. In fact, the country’s laws do not discriminate against foreign investors, which are treated the same way as domestic entities.
The only sector-specific restriction concerns the petroleum sector, requiring that foreign businesses form a joint venture with the Congolese National Petroleum Company (SNPC).
Acquisition of Holdings
In the Republic of the Congo there are no general limits on foreign ownership or control.
Obligation to Declare
The so-called “Centre de Formalité des Entreprises (CFE)” – formally a one-stop shop” for establishing a business in the Republic of the Congo - has offices in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, N’kayi, Ouesso, and Dolisie. In order to start an activity in Congo, investors must provide CFE with two copies of the company by-laws, two copies of capitalization documents, a copy of the company’s investment strategy, company-approved financial statements (when available), and ownership documents or lease agreements for the company’s offices in the Republic of the Congo.
Competent Organisation For the Declaration
Centre de Formalité des Entreprises (CFE)
Requests For Specific Authorisations
The Republic of the Congo does not have an investment screening mechanism for inbound foreign investment.

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Investment Opportunities

Investment Aid Agency
National Agency for the Promotion of Investment (ANAPI) (in French)
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Global Tenders Congo
Africa Gateway Congo
Other Useful Resources
Investment Climate in Congo - Fortune of Africa

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Latest Update: March 2023