Congo-Brazzaville is considered one of the
more developed countries in Africa and the income per
person is relatively high for African conditions thanks
to the country's oil resources. The weaknesses are the
country's unilateral dependence on oil revenues and
Due to debt write-offs, the country has got rid of
large external debt, but at the same time it is creating
new ones through large infrastructure investments
financed by loans from China.
Major imports by Republic of the Congo, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.
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Congo-Brazzaville's economy is based almost entirely
on oil, which accounts for the next 70 percent of gross
domestic product (GDP) and 80 percent of export
The income from the oil is very unevenly distributed.
The oil industry creates few jobs and corruption is
widespread so profits benefit only a small minority of
Congolese while almost half live below the poverty line.
Government members have for a long time seized part of
the oil revenue, for example by forming companies and
buying the oil at prices below market value and then
selling at a higher price. The money has since been
deposited into private accounts abroad.
In addition, oil dependency makes the economy
sensitive to changes in oil prices on the world market.
The sharp fall in oil prices in 2014 has led to lower
revenues. In addition, oil production has decreased
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Other industries are poorly developed, as is
agriculture, which only contributes a few percent to
The economy also encompasses a large informal sector,
ie black jobs of various kinds such as street trading,
shoe cleaning, etc.
Obstacles on the road
For companies and potential investors, corruption,
complicated bureaucracy and a lack of legal security are
serious obstacles. The difficult business climate has
also hampered foreign investment in other than the
commodity sector. The uncertain political situation with
the risk of new outbreaks of violence has also been
daunting. On the World Bank's ranking list for 2014 of
various countries' business climate, Congo was ranked
178 out of 189.
The recurring unrest and fighting have been
devastating for economic development. During the civil
war of 1997 ̶ 2000 (see Modern history) most of the
infrastructure was destroyed and almost all production
(outside the oil sector) stopped. A slow rebuild has
been going on ever since.
Despite oil revenues, Congo-Brazzaville is in need of
assistance and loans from the outside world. France is
the main donor.
Sassou-Nguesso's regime was initially seen with
skepticism by international lenders holding the loans.
After a year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
began to lend the country, and aid came from France and
the EU, among others.
In order to obtain loans from the IMF,
Congo-Brazzaville has been forced to implement so-called
structural transformation programs. Among other things,
they have meant that the IMF has demanded greater
transparency in the oil sector, improved control of
government spending, a more efficient tax and customs
system, privatization of state-owned companies and more.
Reduced debt burden
Until 2010, Congo-Brazzaville was one of the world's
most debt-burdened countries, but then the country's
foreign debt decreased through a so-called
debt-cancellation program for heavily indebted
countries. The program reduced the external debt from
the corresponding 78 to 20 percent of GDP.
New major investments in infrastructure expansion -
roads, power plants, telecommunications - began in 2012
after the government concluded bilateral agreements with
China. The money came from Chinese companies that would
also be responsible for the construction itself. Exactly
how the agreements looked was not known, which drew
criticism from the IMF, among others. There was also
concern that the loans would cause the central
government debt to rise again.
Since the turn of the millennium, economic growth has
fluctuated. 2007 was a year of negative growth, mainly
caused by a temporary decline in oil production, but
growth picked up rapidly and in 2010 it was almost 9
percent. It was mainly the oil industry, but also the
construction sector, which accounted for the growth.
Since then, growth has averaged just over 4 percent.
FACTS - FINANCE
GDP per person
US $ 2,148 (2018)
US $ 11,264 million (2018)
1.0 percent (2018)
Agriculture's share of GDP
7.1 percent (2018)
Manufacturing industry's share of GDP
6.5 percent (2017)
The service sector's share of GDP
40.0 percent (2018)
1.5 percent (2019)
Government debt's share of GDP
87.8 percent (2018)
US $ 4,456 million (2017)
Central African Franc
US $ 4,356 million (2016)
US $ 5,071 million (2016)
- US $ 3 594 million (2016)
Commodity trade's share of GDP
120 percent (2018)
Main export goods
oil, timber, plywood, sugar, cocoa, coffee, diamonds
Largest trading partner
USA, China, France, India, Italy
Peace agreements are concluded and collapses
The government signs a peace deal with the opposition
ninja militia, which continues to invite government
resistance in the Pool region in the southeast. However,
the peace agreement collapses and Ninja continues to
fight until early 2005.
Congolese workers' party wins election
In the May / June parliamentary elections,
Sassou-Nguesso's party wins the Congolese Workers' Party
(in French abbreviated to PCT) by a wide margin, along
with the Allied Party Alliance United Democratic Forces
(FDU). The largest opposition parties, Upads and the
Union for Democratic Renewal / Mwinda (URD / Mwinda) win
only a few seats.
New constitution is approved
A proposal for a new constitution that gives the
president great power is approved in a referendum.
Sassou-Nguesso wins the presidential election in March
with 89 percent of the vote.