Upon independence in 1960, the former French region of Middle Congo became the Republic of the Congo. A quarter century of experimentation with Marxism was abandoned in 1990 and a democratically elected government took office in 1992. A brief civil war in 1997 restored former Marxist President Denis SASSOU-Nguesso, and ushered in a period of ethnic and political unrest. Southern-based rebel groups agreed to a final peace accord in March 2003. The Republic of Congo is one of Africa's largest petroleum producers, but with declining production it will need new offshore oil finds to sustain its oil earnings over the long term.
Central Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Angola and Gabon
petroleum, timber, potash, lead, zinc, uranium, copper, phosphates, gold, magnesium, natural gas, hydropower
Population - distribution
the population is primarily located in the south, in and around the capital of Brazzaville
French (official), Lingala and Monokutuba (lingua franca trade languages), many local languages and dialects (of which Kikongo is the most widespread)
BRAZZAVILLE (capital) 1.888 million; Pointe-Noire 969,000 (2015)
- Conventional long form
- Republic of the Congo
- Conventional short form
- Congo (Brazzaville)
- Local long form
- Republique du Congo
- Local short form
- Geographic coordinates
- 4 15 S, 15 17 E
- Time difference
- UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
The economy is a mixture of subsistence farming and hunting, an industrial sector based largely on oil and support services, and government spending. Oil has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy, providing a major share of government revenues and exports. Natural gas is increasingly being converted to electricity rather than being flared, greatly improving energy prospects. New mining projects, particularly iron ore, which entered production in late 2013, may add as much as $1 billion to annual government revenue.
- External debt stocks
- US$ 4,203,901,000
- Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
- Real Interest Rate
- Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
- Current Account Balance
- US$ -2,181,039,951
- Labor Force, Total
- Employment in Agriculture
- Employment in Industry
- Employment in Services
- Unemployment Rate
- Imports of goods and services
- US$ 6,222,524,417
- Exports of goods and services
- US$ 4,471,702,848
- Total Merchandise Trade
- FDI, net inflows
- US$ 1,486,178,037
- Commercial Service Exports
- US$ 302,754,135
cassava (manioc, tapioca), sugar, rice, corn, peanuts, vegetables, coffee, cocoa; forest products
petroleum extraction, cement, lumber, brewing, sugar, palm oil, soap, flour, cigarettes
- petroleum, lumber, plywood, sugar, cocoa, coffee, diamonds
- China 41.9%, Italy 16.8%, India 4.9%, US 4.9%, Portugal 4.2% (2015)
- capital equipment, construction materials, foodstuffs
- China 20.6%, France 14.4%, South Korea 10%, US 4.9%, UK 4.5%, Italy 4.2%, India 4.1% (2015)
- Country Risk Rating
- A very uncertain political and economic outlook and a business environment with many troublesome weaknesses can have a significant impact on corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is high.
- Business Climate Rating
- The business environment is very difficult. Corporate financial information is rarely available and when available usually unreliable. The legal system makes debt collection very unpredictable. The institutional framework has very serious weaknesses. Intercompany transactions can thus be very difficult to manage in the highly risky environments rated D.
- Abundant natural resources (oil, iron ore, potassium, phosphates, timber) and agricultural potential
- Fiscal and external buffers
- Debt relief granted under the HIPC/MDRI initiatives
- Heavy dependence on oil
- Lack of infrastructure, insufficient poverty reduction
- Difficult business climate and weak governance
- Risk of political instability in the event of a sudden departure of the Head of State
Growth continued to slow in 2016 as oil production declined and the government made large cuts to expenditure to try and bring the budget deficit under control. The Congolese economy is nevertheless expected to recover in 2017 with the bringing on stream of a major oil field and an upturn in public investment.
Congo has abundant natural resources (oil, iron ore, as well as potash, phosphates and wood) and is strategically located in Central Africa (deep-water port at Pointe-Noire). The economy however is still dominated by oil, despite the decline in the contribution from this sector, accounting for 40% of GDP, 38% of budget receipts and 74% of exports. Notwithstanding recent discoveries, its oil reserves will continue to be depleted, with prices likely to remain relatively low. This further highlights the need for the country to diversify its economy. In this context, a few years ago the Government launched a major public investment program. The country however continues to suffer the consequences of its infrastructure deficiencies. In addition, progress in terms of reducing poverty and inequality remains limited and the business climate is still difficult. Investors continue to worry about the problems faced in dealing with the tax authorities and by obstacles to cross border trade.
Inflation, driven by imported foodstuff costs and logistical limitations, is now in excess of the CEMAC target (3%).
The continuing fall in oil revenues and the rise in public sector wages ahead of the Presidential election in March 2016 impacted on the budget. However, despite its rapid deterioration in 2015, the public deficit was brought down to a more acceptable level in 2016 thanks to a sharp reduction in public investment. The upturn in oil output and the slight recovery in crude oil prices should help produce a further improvement in the budgetary situation in 2017. This should also apply to the external accounts.
The level of external public debt has risen significantly since the debt relief granted in 2010 as part of the HIPC/MDR initiatives, as a result of loans contracted with China. The public debt ratio at the end of 2015 even exceeded the CEMAC convergence criteria (70% of GDP). The risk of over indebtedness has increased in the context of falling oil prices and the 2015 depreciation of the CFA franc against the dollar. A temporary delay in July 2016 in paying the country’s only euro-bond has highlighted the poor level of debt management, even if it does not reflect short-term liquidity problems. The country has sizeable budget reserves held with the Bank of Central African States (9% of GDP at mid-2016). However, given the limited availability of finance, the government continues to draw on these reserves, which will eventually run out.
The new constitution to allow President Sassou-Nguesso to run for a third term of office in 2016 was approved by referendum in October 2015. The outgoing President, who has held the office for more than thirty years (in two distinct periods), was re-elected for five years in the first round of the March 2016 presidential election. The polls’ results have been challenged by the opposition, with the voting taking place in a tense climate. This has also simply postponed the issue of the succession to a later date.
Whilst contested internally and only chilly welcomed by the international community, the Head of State knows he can rely on China, the country’s leading trading partner and funder. Some ten agreements were signed in June 2016 between the two countries covering finance, infrastructure and agriculture. Relations with the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo however remain tense because of the increasing political instability within this country. In addition, there has also been renewed tensions, since April 2016, in the Pool region, adjoining Brazzaville, between security forces and former Ninja rebels, supporters of Pasteur Ntumi.