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

Economic situation Rich mineral deposits, poor business climate

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.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth rate in 2020 was only 0.8 per cent. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted a significant economic recovery for 2021. However, given that population growth stands at over three per cent, even good economic figures are not enough to bring about tangible improvements in the living conditions of the population at large.

Most people in the DR Congo are struggling just to survive from one day to the next. Fewer than 10 per cent of the population are regularly employed, and around 90 per cent of economic activity takes place within the informal sector. In the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020 (External link), which analyses the business climate in 190 countries worldwide, the DR Congo ranks 183rd. Entrepreneurs are deterred by the political instability and the lack of legal certainty, the arbitrary bureaucracy and corruption, the lack of skilled workers and the weak infrastructure.

Dish with a small amount of Coltan. This ore is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is an important raw material, for example for the production of mobile phones.

Dish with a small amount of Coltan. This ore is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is an important raw material, for example for the production of mobile phones.

Dish with a small amount of Coltan. This ore is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is an important raw material, for example for the production of mobile phones.

Conflicts over mineral resources

The most important economic sectors are agriculture and mining. The country has rich deposits of extractive and mineral resources, including cobalt, copper, zinc, silver, diamonds, germanium and uranium, and also what are often referred to as “conflict” minerals: tin, tantalum/coltan, tungsten and gold. International demand for coltan and cobalt in particular is very high, since they are used in the manufacture of mobile phones, laptops and electric cars. However, some of these deposits are located in the conflict-ridden east of the Republic. Rebel groups, militias and also army units all have illegal mines under their control.

In order to ensure that the trade in commodities is conducted lawfully and that revenues are used transparently, the Congolese government has signed up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, EITI. In July 2014, the EITI accepted the DR Congo onto its list of compliant countries. A validation assessment found in 2019 that the country has made significant progress in implementing the EITI Standard.