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A New Era for D.R. Congo

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

The DRC is extremely rich in minerals, forest resources, freshwater, and agricultural potential, but most Congolese live in poverty. DRC ranked 176 out of 189 countries on the 2018 U.N. Human Development Index, and its per capita gross domestic product (GDP) stood at $449 in 2018 (see Figure 1), among the world’s lowest. Prior to the 2016-2018 impasse over the elections delay and Kabila’s political future, international attention toward DRC was overwhelmingly focused on addressing long-running conflicts in the east and supporting the extension of state authority. Security threats, political uncertainty, “endemic corruption,” poor infrastructure, and unpredictable regulatory enforcement have contributed to a poor business climate. The recent peaceful presidential power transition develops the trend for political stability at least for the next 4-5 years. DRC’s potential to become the most economically successful country in Africa is undoubtful. The U.S. State Department welcomed opposition figure Felix Tshisekedi’s victory in DRC’s December 2018 presidential election, applauding the Congolese people “for their insistence on a peaceful and democratic transfer of power.”

U.S. bilateral aid programs in DRC seek to promote stability, economic growth, health, good governance, education, security force professionalization, and military justice. The Trump Administration’s FY2020 aid budget request includes $201 million in bilateral funding for DRC

The economic forecast has been optimistic with the World Bank Group predicting the GDP growth trend, driven by a boost in commodity prices and mining production. The growth is being also fuelled by investments in infrastructure and government attempts to improve the business climate. As of 2017, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had a positive trade balance of $2.59 B in net exports. DRC is a top global copper producer, and in 2018 it produced 64% of the global supply of cobalt (a key ingredient in batteries for electric cars as well as jet engines, among other industrial uses), along with 24% of natural industrial diamonds and 39% of tantalum. GDP Annual Growth Rate in Congo is expected to be 4.30 percent by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts’ expectations. In the long-term, the Congo GDP Annual Growth Rate is projected to trend around 4.10 percent in 2020, according to our econometric models.