Street scene in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo A country in deep crisis

Technically, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is a wealthy country. It has valuable mineral resources, large reserves of freshwater and huge tropical rainforests. However, decades of exploitation under colonial rule, followed by years of dictatorship and then armed conflicts, have left the DR Congo poverty stricken.

Straight to
Haberdashery store in Kinshasa

The country is in a perpetual state of crisis and the social and humanitarian situation is disastrous. Some of the biggest challenges facing the country are extremely weak public sector institutions, ongoing fighting (in particular in the country’s eastern districts), a high number of internally displaced persons and growing food insecurity. Almost 20 million of the DR Congo’s nearly 90 million citizens are dependent on humanitarian assistance.

The situation has been made worse by recurring epidemics such as COVID-19, Ebola, cholera and measles. On the newest United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) the DR Congo is ranked 179th out of the 191 countries listed.

Nevertheless, the peaceful handover of power following the elections at the end of 2018 and the forming of a new government in April 2021 after the coalition with ex-President Joseph Kabila was dissolved give cause for cautious optimism. The government under President Felix Tshisekedi is pursuing an ambitious reform agenda aimed at restoring peace and fostering economic development. The international community, Germany included, is supporting these efforts, but is accompanying that support with a close political dialogue and technical monitoring of the promised reforms.

This Central African country plays an important geostrategic role; its political, economic and social development has a considerable impact on the situation in its nine neighbouring countries. The conservation of its tropical forests is of vital importance for the global climate.

German development cooperation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo

German development cooperation with the DR Congo centres on bringing about tangible improvements in people’s living conditions, fostering peace in the unstable region of Eastern Congo and protecting the country’s tropical forests.

At government negotiations in October 2021, the BMZ made a pledge of 100.68 million euros to its partner country for 2021 and 2022, with 46.38 million euros being earmarked for Financial Cooperation and 54.3 million euros for Technical Cooperation. Furthermore, within the framework of transitional development assistance, an amount of 31.29 million euros has been made available to the DR Congo.

The main focus of German activities is on the following core areas:

  • Peaceful and inclusive societies
    Areas of intervention: peacebuilding and conflict prevention, good governance
  • Training and sustainable growth for decent jobs
    Areas of intervention: private sector and financial sector development, technical and vocational education and training
  • Protecting life on Earth – the environment and natural resources
    Areas of intervention: biodiversity, water

Over the course of 2020, the BMZ made substantial additional funding for mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic available to the DR Congo. Among other things, this funding was used by the BMZ to support the national water authority REGIDESO in suspending the payment of water charges for three months so as to ease the financial burden on households. Furthermore, the BMZ was involved in two studies carried out in collaboration with the Robert Koch Institute in order to analyse the spread of COVID-19 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to develop policy recommendations for the country’s policymakers.

Regional cooperation

The DR Congo is also receiving assistance through several regional projects that Germany is funding as part of its development cooperation activities. For instance, KfW Development Bank is investing in the generation and distribution of eco-friendly electricity from hydropower in the region along the borders between the DR Congo and Burundi and Rwanda.

Transboundary bodies supported by Germany include the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC) and the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP).

Presenter at Radio Okapi, operated by the UN

Core area “Peaceful and inclusive societies” Fostering dialogue and reconciliation, preventing new conflicts Internal link

Germany's objective is to improve the livelihoods of people in the conflict-affected regions of North and South Kivu, for instance by revitalising the agricultural sector and improving the drinking water supply.

Copper mine in DR Congo

Core area “Training and sustainable growth for decent jobs” Using the country’s wealth of natural resources for sustainable development Internal link

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has large reserves of mineral deposits. Although mining is one of the most important sources of income for the national economy, little has been done so far to harness its potential for the economic and social development of the country.

Deforestation near Yangamba, DR Congo

Core area “Protecting life on Earth – the environment and natural resources” Protecting the rainforest, preserving biodiversity and improving living conditions Internal link

After the Amazon Basin, the next-biggest area of tropical forest in the world is the Congo Basin. The rainforests are enormously important for the global climate and for the preservation of biodiversity.

Current situation

Political situation
A woman in front of a mural at the railway station of Kinshasa, the capital of the DR Congo.

A difficult political legacy Internal link

For decades now, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been experiencing a deep-seated political and economic crisis. Between 1996 and 2003 the country was ravaged by two wars; the eastern provinces are still in a state of unrest to this day.

Democracy and human rights
A tank of the UN mission in Rumangabo, DR Congo

Pervasive corruption and violence Internal link

The DR Congo still has a long way to go before it can be regarded as a democratic state under the rule of law. The separation of powers exists solely on paper. Freedom of the press and other media is severely restricted.

Social situation
Immunisation of babies in a health centre in Kibati, Goma

People living in extreme poverty Internal link

The dictatorship under President Mobutu and the wars that followed have completely destroyed the economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The people have little food and few earning opportunities.

Economic situation
Men with so-called chukudus (freight scooters) in Goma, DR Congo

Rich mineral deposits, poor business climate Internal link

After decades of mismanagement and war, the economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is in ruins. In recent years, growth rates have fluctuated between 2.4 and 6.9 per cent – starting from a very low baseline.