Economic and Political Overview

flag Democratic Republic of Congo Democratic Republic of Congo: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response

 

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) possesses two-thirds of Africa's tropical forests, has a rich subsoil and a significant hydroelectric potential. The economy has suffered political conflicts over the past two decades. After recording the world’s third-fastest growth (10.5%) in 2014, the economy slowed down, mainly due to rising inflation and a drop in the prices of exported raw materials, notably copper. In 2021, the economy grew 4.9%, mainly due to a boost in the mining sector after a slowdown in activity brought on by the pandemic in the previous year. Over that same period, prices of commodities and mining exports rose as global demand restarted. In 2022 and 2023, mining is expected to remain the main contributor to the country's growth, with GDP being expected to reach 5.6% and 6.6%, respectively.

The economy of the DRC is mainly based on extractive industries, which are very dependent on world prices and international economic dynamics. The country's economy is therefore fragile and vulnerable to shocks. In 2021, the country benefited from the increase in copper prices (the leading export product), which led to an increase in revenue, expenditure, and foreign exchange reserves. With copper and cobalt prices expected to remain high, production and exports are set to increase in the coming years, which should continue to benefit the economy as a whole. In 2021, inflation decreased to 9.45%, thanks to a relatively more stable Congolese franc. Inflation should continue a downward trend in 2022, reaching 6.4%, before stabilising at 6.6% in 2023. The debt-to-GDP ratio also decreased in 2021, to 11.9%, and it further decrease in the coming years, reaching 10.1% in 2022 and 8.3% in 2023. The overall deficit remained stable at 2.1%, but it is expected to drop to 1.8% in 2022 and 1.5% in 2023. To answer the coronavirus crisis, the Congolese government implemented a plan estimated at USD 2.6 billion in 2020, which continued on in 2021. The amount was used to face medical challenges, reinforce macroeconomic stability, and help citizens to fulfil their basic needs. The measures put in place in light of the pandemic have been effective in boosting economic activity, which has been gradually recovering. However, although a relatively low inflation and a robust recovery plan have bolstered private consumption in the country, its contribution to growth was constrained by the large share of the population living below the poverty line.

The DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 70% of the population living in extreme poverty (World Bank, 2020). It is among the lowest-ranked in the human development index and violence is frequent, especially in the east of the country. According to the latest data from the World Bank, in 2020, the unemployment rate in the country stood at 5.2%. However, among the employed share of the population, a high percentage of workers have informal jobs.

 
Main Indicators 20202021 (e)2022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 48.7156.5563.9170.3577.17
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 1.7e6.26.16.76.9
GDP per Capita (USD) 536603660704748
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 16.516.114.710.89.0
Inflation Rate (%) 11.49.08.49.85.6
Current Account (billions USD) -1.10-0.540.000.010.21
Current Account (in % of GDP) -2.2-0.90.00.00.3

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

The agricultural sector represented 20.8% of GDP in 2020 and employed 64.3% of the population (World Bank). The vast majority of the population is engaged in agricultural activities for their subsistence and not for commercial purposes. The main crops are cassava, plantains, yams, rice and corn. Farmers across the country were negatively impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, as border closures limited trade flows of agricultural inputs, which resulted in a decrease in the country's planted area, fewer agricultural jobs, and overall below-average production. However, as restrictions lifted in 2021, the sector began to show signs of recovery.

The industrial sector contributed to 41.2% of GDP in 2020, and employed 9.8% of the population. The country is presented with vast natural resources, the mining sector playing a major role in the economy and being the main source of export earnings. The Katanga region is particularly rich in minerals, including copper, cobalt, zinc, cassiterite, manganese, coal, silver, cadmium, germanium (a fragile element used as a semiconductor), gold, palladium (a metallic element used as catalyst and in alloys), uranium and platinum. The DRC also has deposits of gas (methane) and diamonds. Manufacturing plays a marginal role in the country's economy, due to the lack of skilled labour and machinery. Although the earlier stages of the pandemic resulted in a significant decrease of industrialised exports, mainly of metals and minerals, 2021 saw a significant rebound of the industrial sector, with copper and cobalt exports being major contributors to the country's growth.

The services sector represented 35.7% of GDP in 2020 and employed 25.8% of the working population. The banking system is dominated by foreign companies, but only a fraction of the Congolese have a bank account. Tourism is also underdeveloped due to the prevailing security problems in the country. Even though the services sector was negatively impacted by the pandemic, it showed a steady recovery in 2021.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 64.3 9.8 25.9
Value Added (in % of GDP) 20.3 41.0 35.6
Value Added (Annual % Change) 2.0 2.8 -0.5

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

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Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Congolese Franc (CDF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 28.4342.4747.8146.4247.05

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
49/100
World Rank:
165
Regional Rank:
43

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

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Foreign Trade in Figures

The DRC is open to international trade, which represents 65.4% of its GDP (2020, World Bank). Former president Joseph Kabila’s government has established a series of reforms intended to improve the business climate and to diversify exports. With 80 million hectares of arable land and over 1,100 minerals and precious metals, the DRC has the potential to become one of the major exporting countries on the continent and a driver of African growth. The country's mainly exports refined copper (49.8%), cobalt (23.4%), copper ore (6.6%), crude petroleum (5.7%), and diamonds (2.9%); while it imports chiefly medicaments (4.9%), refined petroleum (3.9%), sulfuric acid (2.4%), stone processing machines (2.1%), and delivery trucks (2%).

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s key trading partners are China, Zambia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. The DRC is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (ECGLC), and the WTO. Furthermore, in 2022, the country signed bilateral agreements on cooperation in various sectors with Turkey, including defense and security, infrastructure and transport, non-double taxation, and investment promotion.

The DRC's trade balance is structurally negative, but the takeover of the raw material prices plays in favour of the exports growth and of the rebalancing of current accounts. In the last few years, the country’s trade balance was positive. The merchandise trade surplus increased to USD 1.9 billion in 2020, as imports of goods amounted to USD 6.6 billion, while exports reached USD 14.1billion. That same year, exports of services amounted to USD 115 million and imports were worth USD 2.4 billion, resulting in a negative trade balance of USD 624 million, when accounting for services.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 4,9007,9308,8256,66310,300
Exports of Goods (million USD) 7,90020,00413,38214,12223,500
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,7792,6652,1322,4960
Exports of Services (million USD) 59891261150
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 9.74.7-1.01.5n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 7.314.21.62.8n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 39.038.033.133.5n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 35.334.330.131.9n/a
Trade Balance (million USD) 2089944001,923n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,406-1,693-1,719-624n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 74.372.363.265.4n/a

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data

 
 
 
 
 

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Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Ministry of Mines
Ministry of Hydrocarbons
Statistical Office
Statistics about DRC
Central Bank
Central Bank of East African States
Stock Exchange
Central African Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Google.cd
Economic Portals
Financial Times
BBC News

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Félix Tshisekedi (UDSP - since January 2019)
Prime Minister :Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge (ACO - since April 2021)
Next Election Dates
2023
Main Political Parties
Congolese citizens have the formal right to organize political parties. Hundreds of parties exist, organized along ethnic, communal, or regional lines; with the majority having only a regional reach. Key parties at national level include former president Kabila’s PPRD (People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy; left-wing) and the UDPS (Union for Democracy and Social Progress, centre-left) of the current president Félix Tshisekedi. The MLC (Movement for the Liberation of the Congo, right-wing) also gained seats in the two houses of the parliament.
Type of State
Democratic Republic.
Executive Power
The Democratic Republic of Congo can be considered a semi-presidential republic. The executive power is vested in the President and in the Prime Minister. The latter is appointed by the President (normally choosing the leader of the party with the majority of seats in the parliament). The President is the head of state and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, while the Prime Minister is the head of government.
Legislative Power
The legislative power is attributed to the bicameral parliament, formed by the National Assembly (elected by direct suffrage) and the Senate (elected by the legislatures of the 25 provinces).
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
149/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Not Free

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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COVID-19 Country Response

COVID-19 epidemic evolution
To find out about the latest status of the evolution of the COVID19 pandemic and the most up-to-date statistics on the COVID19 disease in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), please visit the Congolese government platform with the official data. Official information on the progress of the epidemic in the country is collected by the DRC Ministry of Health. The ministry provides a daily epidemiological update, which includes key national figures. It also provides more accurate data on the epidemic on the government data platform available here.
For the international outlook you can consult the latest
situation reports published by the World Health Organisation as well as the global daily statistics on the coronavirus pandemic evolution including data on confirmed cases and deaths by country.
Sanitary measures
To find out about the latest public health situation in Democratic Republic of Congo and the current sanitary measures in force, please consult the Congolese government platform including the updated information on the containment measures put in place and public health recommendations.
Travel restrictions
The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new variants, evolves rapidly and differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling. Regularly updated information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related travel restrictions in place including entry regulations, flight bans, test requirements and quarantine is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
It is also highly recommended to consult COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on the daily basis by IATA.
The US government website of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention provides COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.

The UK Foreign travel advice also provides travelling abroad advice for all countries, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.
Import & export restrictions
So far, no restrictions have been imposed on imports or exports in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For information on all the measures applicable to the movement of goods during the period of sanitary emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak (including possible import and export restrictions, if applicable), please consult the Congolese government platform.
For a general overview of trade restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Democratic Republic of Congo on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
Information on the economic recovery plan put in place by the Congolese government to address the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the Congolese economy, is available here
For a general overview of the main economic policy measures (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) taken by the Congolese government to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Democratic Republic of Congo in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
Information on the local business support program put in place by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to help small and medium enterprises to deal with the economic impacts of the COVID19 is available here.
For a general overview of international SME support policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak, please refer to the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.
Support plan for exporters
Official government sources do not provide information on specific programmes for exporting companies following the coronavirus epidemic outbreak.
 

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Latest Update: November 2022