flag Democratic Republic of Congo Democratic Republic of Congo: Investing

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

 

FDI in Figures

According to UNCTAD’s 2021 World Investment Report, FDI flows into the Democratic Republic of Congo increased from USD 1.5 billion in 2019 to USD 1.6 billion in 2020, despite the global economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, inflows into the mining sector supported FDI as cobalt prices rose with rising demand for its use in smartphones and electric car batteries - the country is the world's leading producer of cobalt and Africa's top copper miner. The FDI stock has been estimated at USD 27.3 billion in 2020. Such levels remain far below the country’s potential: in fact, the DRC has abundant mineral resources and a huge potential in sectors like mining, energy (especially hydroelectric), and infrastructure. To date, the mining sector is the one that attracts most FDI, followed by telecommunications. South Africa, Belgium and China are the country’s main investors.

The country benefits from a large domestic market and is strategically located in the centre of the African continent, being also a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The Democratic Republic of Congo has rich hydroelectric and mining resources (such as diamonds, copper, cobalt, gold and uranium), which have remained largely untapped. In order to attract FDIs, the government of the DRC provides incentives which are generally negotiated with foreign investors. However, the business climate is especially poor, and foreign investors are facing a number of challenges (corruption, lengthy administrative procedures and administrative fees) in establishing their businesses in the DRC. While there laws protecting investors in the country, the court system is often slow, so disputes can extend for years. However, a reform of the country's legal system is underway, which is expected to increase transparency, earning the trust of potential investors. In 2018, the mining code was amended, increasing taxes and royalties, requiring that at least 10% of the capital of mining companies be owned by indigenous citizens, and severely restricting the export of unprocessed minerals under new mining permit. In addition, the humanitarian and conflict situation in the east of the country and the stormy relations with neighbouring countries (Rwanda, Uganda and Angola) are factors which contribute to persistent insecurity in the country. Reflecting these difficulties, the DRC is ranked 183rd out of 190 countries in the last Doing Business report, published by the World Bank in 2020. In recent years, some of the biggest Chinese mining companies have heavily invested in the country, especially in cobalt and copper mines, with Chinese companies currently owning 15 of the 17 cobalt operations in the DRC.

 
 
Foreign Direct Investment 201820192020
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 1,6171,4881,647
FDI Stock (million USD) 24,14425,63227,279
Number of Greenfield Investments* 8612
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 1,0485701,102

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 the Democratic Republic of Congo

Strong Points
Among the reasons to invest in the Democratic Republic of Congo:
- high growth rate of the national economy
- abundant mineral resources (copper, cobalt, diamond, gold, tin), with 80 million hectares of arable land and around 1,100 minerals in its subsoil
- the country is a member of several regional economic blocks, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (ECGLC).
- several incentives granted to foreign investors
- huge potential in sectors like mining, energy (especially hydroelectric), and infrastructure
Weak Points
Several factors hinder the Democratic Republic of Congo’s business climate:
- a difficult business climate (predatory tax agencies, limited access to capital, difficulties enforcing contracts due to the weak judicial system, weak banking sector)
- endemic corruption at all levels of government
- a shortage of skilled labor
- political uncertainty, with ongoing armed conflict in the eastern part of the country
- weak infrastructure (transport, energy, telecommunications)
- high level of poverty
- political instability
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
The government of the DRC provides some incentives to foreign investors. Such measures are generally negotiated during a streamlined period of approximately 30 days. Negotiated incentives can range from tax breaks to duty exemptions, and can vary according to the location and type of enterprise, the number of jobs created, the degree of training and promotion of local staff, and the export-producing potential of the operation.
Furthermore, the government created a “one-stop shop” for foreign investors, the Guichet Unique (https://www.guichetunique.cd/), that brings together all the government entities involved in the registration of a company in the DRC.
To know more about local incentives to FDI, consult the guide of the National Agency for Investment Promotion (ANAPI).

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
The Constitution stipulates the freedom to own and establish a business enterprise, and to engage in all forms of remunerative activity. Nevertheless, although the law may say so, in practice foreign investors are often required to hire local agents and participate in a joint venture with the government or local partners.
A new law enacted in January 2017 setting rules for outsourcing across all sectors: in fact, it restricts outsourcing to companies owned by nationals or whose head offices are in the country.
Acquisition of Holdings
Current investment regulations prohibit foreign investors from engaging in informal small retail commerce (“petit commerce”), and prohibits foreign shareholder ownership of more than 49% in the agri-business sector. Restrictions are fixed on outsourcing by foreign investors in almost all sectors.
Obligation to Declare
The Single Desk or Guichet Unique – which has been operating since 2013 – works as a “one-stop shop”, coordinating all the government entities involved in the registration of a company in the DRC. The registration process now officially takes three days, but in effect it can take much longer (however, procedures have been considerably shortened and simplified since the activation of the Single Desk).
Competent Organisation For the Declaration
Guichet Unique
Requests For Specific Authorisations
The labor law stipulates that for businesses with over 100 employees, 10% of all employees should be nationals. Furthermore, if the managing director is a foreigner, his deputy or secretary general is generally expected to be a Congolese citizen.

Find out more about Investment Service Providers in the Democratic Republic of Congo on GlobalTrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Investment Opportunities

Investment Aid Agency
National Agency for Investment Promotion (ANAPI)
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
TendersInfo
Global Tenders
Africa Gatewa
Other Useful Resources
U.S. Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs' - DRC 2021 Investment Climate Statements
 
 

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Find out more about Investment Service Providers in the Democratic Republic of Congo on GlobalTrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Latest Update: April 2022