This paper reviews the annual progress report on Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) for Republic of Congo. The adoption of the PRSP in March 2008 was followed by adoption of the Operational Action Plan for implementation of the PRSP. The poverty reduction strategy is being implemented in an international economic context marked by a severe economic and financial crisis. The government has also undertaken significant structural administrative reforms with a view to improving political governance.
This paper reviews the annual progress report on Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) for Republic of Congo. The adoption of the PRSP in March 2008 was followed by adoption of the Operational Action Plan for implementation of the PRSP. The poverty reduction strategy is being implemented in an international economic context marked by a severe economic and financial crisis. The government has also undertaken significant structural administrative reforms with a view to improving political governance.
1. Preparation and Implementation of the PRSP
1.1. Preparation of the PRSP
The Republic of Congo began to develop its poverty reduction strategy (PRS) in 2006 after reaching the completion point under the HIPC Initiative. The PRSP was prepared within an appropriate institutional framework and using a sustained participatory process, involving the entire spectrum of Congolese society. The document adopted in its final version in March 2008 is still the government’s sole frame of reference in respect of economic and social development policy.
1.1.1. Institutional framework
To steer the process of preparing the PRSP, the Government created the National Poverty Reduction Committee (CNLP). The Minister of State, Minister of Planning and Territorial Development (MPAT) serves as its chair, with the Minister of Economy, Finance, and Budget (MEFB) serving as vice chair.
The CNLP establishes policy guidelines for the formulation and execution of the PRSP. It is assisted in its work by a Permanent Technical Secretariat (STP).
The STP’s role is to coordinate all activities relating to the formulation and implementation process. It is responsible for the technical and practical coordination of the implementation process, and for overseeing and evaluating high-priority PRS actions.
The STP is supported by thematic and sectoral groups (GTSs), made up of representatives of the technical ministries involved in the PRSP process, whose Research and Planning Directorates (DEPs) serve as focal points, and by civil society (NGOs and associations, trade unions, and faith-based groups) and the private sector.
At the departmental and local levels, the CNLP is supported by Departmental Poverty Reduction Committees (CDLPs) and Local Poverty Reduction Committees (CLLPs).
1.1.2. Participatory approach
Participatory consultations were organized in the country’s 12 departments to gather qualitative information on poverty from the grassroots population. The primary aim of these consultations was to enhance the efficiency of government poverty reduction efforts, to supplement quantitative analysis, and to help formulate sectoral policies and strategies for combating poverty consistent with the needs expressed by the local populations themselves.
The participatory consultations were conducted in villages and local neighborhoods. Workshops to enrich and validate the reports from these consultations were held in districts and communes, and were attended by representatives from the Public Administration, civil society, and local communities.
In addition, these consultations were validated in the course of a national workshop which brought together all stakeholders, including the government, Parliament, and development partners.
1.2. PRS implementation process
1.2.1. Recap of objectives
The government’s efforts are aimed at achieving strong, healthy, and sustainable growth in order to reduce poverty and improve the living conditions of the Congolese people.
The basic objectives of the PRS are built around the five following pillars:
- Pillar 1: Improving governance and consolidating peace and security;
- Pillar 2: Promoting economic growth and macroeconomic stability;
- Pillar 3: Improving people’s access to basic social services;
- Pillar 4: Improving the social environment;
- Pillar 5: Strengthening the fight against HIV/AIDS.
1.2.2. Implementation mechanisms
Implementation of the PRS is first and foremost the task of the sectoral ministries concerned, each in its own area of expertise, in partnership with all the stakeholders in the poverty reduction process. To ensure the consistency of sectoral policies with the overall strategy, the focal points, namely the Directorates of Research and Planning (DEPs) in each ministerial department, serve as contacts with the central body for monitoring and evaluation, namely the Permanent Technical Secretariat. These focal points are tasked with ensuring the consistency of the sectoral policies and strategies, the ministerial priority action plans, and sectoral medium-term expenditure frameworks (MTEFs) with the PRSP.
1.2.3. Operational Action Plan for implementation of the PRSP
The OAP was prepared in concertation with the DEPs of the ministries, and reflects the programming of the actions to be carried out while taking account of sectoral priorities and in a manner consistent with the MTEF process currently under way.
The OAP was approved by the government and announced in a presidential decree dated December 31, 2008. It will serve as the basis for the monitoring and evaluation of PRS implementation.
1.2.4. “Ownership” of PRSP implementation
Strategic communication in the context of preparing and implementing the PRSP entails the broadest possible dissemination to the general public of information about the paper, so as to promote its greater ownership on the part of the public.
Participation in the PRSP process is backed by communication that is ongoing, specific, and consistent in order to raise awareness and encourage discussion and dialogue.
To support the implementation process, terms of reference for the publicity campaign were drawn up focusing on the following points: (i) context and justification, (ii) objectives, (iii) languages of communication, (iv) methodology, (v) expected results, (vi) organization, (vii) target audience, (viii) location and time frame, and (ix) timetable.
Successfully engaging the various stakeholders makes it possible to ensure genuine partnership, participation, and accountability in the implementation and monitoring of the PRSP.
The STP is working to establish a PRSP website to make information about the PRSP and its implementation accessible to the general public.
1.2.5. Apparatus for the monitoring and evaluation of PRSP implementation
The CNLP is the body for coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating PRSP implementation. It is composed of representatives of all the ministries involved in PRS implementation, the development partners, and the civil society organizations involved in the various sectors of poverty reduction activities.
Implementation monitoring is also decentralized to the departmental and local levels through the departmental and local structures of the PRSP, with the support of local community development organizations.
In addition, monitoring and evaluation activities are assisted by deconcentrated units in the sectoral ministries in providing sectoral information and statistical data, under the coordination of the National Center for Statistics and Economic Research (CNSEE).
Despite the efforts now under way, Congo still suffers from the incomplete availability of statistical data. The actions planned for 2009 relate to institutional reorganization and the strengthening of exchanges with sectoral statistical systems through the National Strategy for Statistical Development (SNDS), for which the draft blueprint is ready. Its forthcoming approval will make it possible for a steering committee and sectoral committees to be set up, with the task of promoting consistency in the production of statistics, coordinating and harmonizing the national statistical system, and organizing the sectors so that they will be able to produce statistics.
The CNSEE needs to strengthen its institutional role in producing and disseminating national statistics. With the forthcoming approval of the law on statistics and the corresponding implementing provisions, the format of the national statistical system will be defined, its missions clarified, and its organization established around the High Commission on Statistics, the CNSEE (which will become the National Institute of Statistics (INS)), sectoral statistical units, and the BEAC.
It should be noted that several surveys are planned for the 2008-2010 period with a view to improving and updating the data on changes in poverty in the country (see details in section 2.1.4.).
Participatory monitoring consists of developing ownership of the poverty reduction strategy process, improving transparency, increasing the accountability of the various stakeholders, improving the quality and relevance of services, particularly public services, and participating in the oversight of the PRS implementation process.
In addition, participatory monitoring has to enable local players to confirm the monitoring and evaluation data produced by the sectoral ministries and to provide their assessment of actions carried out as part of the poverty reduction program. This work will consist of ensuring that all projects are evaluated, confirming the degree of completion of each activity, evaluating the quality of work done and the relevance of that work vis-à-vis poverty-reduction objectives, and setting out proposals for corrective action.
2. Status of PRS Implementation
Several steps have already been completed in implementing the PRS. This part of the report provides a brief description of the initial work carried out in implementing the priority actions identified in connection with each of the five strategic pillars.
2.1. PILLAR 1—Improving governance and consolidating peace and security
This first pillar is concerned with capacity-building in the Public Administration and public institutions to enable Congo to run those institutions smoothly, with cohesive, relevant sectoral policies aimed at ensuring sustainable development. The endorsement of the Paris Declaration by the Republic of Congo has bolstered this political will to undertake development that is harmonized, transparent, inclusive, and more effective, and to join with development partners in building upon the five principles enunciated in that declaration. This consists of improving political governance, administrative and judicial governance, and economic and financial governance, strengthening peace and security, combating corruption, and including gender and environmental aspects in all actions undertaken.
2.1.1. Political governance
The government has undertaken significant structural and administrative reforms in order to improve political governance, which may be summed up as follows: capacity-building for institutions established under the Constitution, strengthening the culture of democracy and peace, improving the governance of political parties and associations, instituting a policy of quotas for women for all nominations and elections, and guaranteeing the freedom and independence of the communications media.
Within this specific framework, the Parliament has played its role not only by ratifying legislation in various sectors, but also by undertaking its own management capacity-building and establishing partnerships with international institutions.
Parliament has questioned the government on a number of major issues such as the oil issue, fuel shortages, and price increases for basic commodities and building materials, demonstrating that the first signs are now evident of a democratic debate between the Parliament and the government.
Participation in the 2008 legislative and local elections increased 17 percent in comparison with 2002 thanks to campaigns conducted both by the government and by the opposition parties to raise people’s awareness of their civic rights and the role of members of Parliament.
Legislation has been prepared providing support for political parties, in particular with regard to financing matters, and it will be implemented soon.
Electoral Law No. 9-2001 of December 10, 2001 and Law No. 5-2007 of May 25, 2007, amending and supplementing the previously cited law, require that political parties and groups take account of female representation by ensuring that 15 percent of their candidates are women.
2.1.2. Peace and security
In this key area, the government is committed to consolidating peace and security on the one hand, and ensuring the unrestricted circulation of people and goods on the other. The actions taken in this area may be summarized as the “strengthening of security to prevent conflicts and build a lasting peace.”
Building gun racks and munitions depots has allowed for better control of weapons held by military and police forces. Completing the construction of territorial headquarters for police units in Niari, Likouala, Cuvette, and Brazzaville has helped strengthen nationwide coverage.
Although a persistent pocket of resistance remains in the Pool region, the National Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Program (PNDDR) has made significant progress with the support of the World Bank and the European Union: 85 percent of illegal weapons have been collected and destroyed; 90 percent of ex-combatants who were once active in Pool have been demobilized and have rejoined civil society; 80 percent of ex-combatants have received technical training in fields in which they can earn income or in trades; and 90 percent of former child soldiers have received a family allowance or social benefit.
Preliminary drafts for a Military and Police Forces Programming Law covering a five-to ten-year period beginning in 2010 are now being prepared, and will be submitted to the government for consideration in the course of 2009.
Local security has been strengthened by having National Police officers conduct properly equipped mobile patrols, and projects to build police stations have been undertaken in Ouesso, Souanké, Pikounda, Ngbala, and Ntam in Sangha. A special unit targeting bandits (GRB) was set up in 2008.
Actions to make national identity cards more widely used and to institute biometric passports are proceeding normally.
Thanks to social programs, it has been possible to build new barracks and housing in Dolisie, Impfondo, and Owando, and to renovate some old barracks. Various sorts of equipment have been purchased, particularly vehicles of all kinds. Thanks to building new structures and making an effort to kit out the troops, there has been a gradual but significant increase in the level of discipline, and hence in the degree of control over personnel.
Technical and scientific police centers have been set up in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. Particularly noteworthy is the completion of construction work on the barracks of the Police Intervention Group (GIP) in Moukondo (Brazzaville) and the police station in Ouesso (building R+1). Other construction projects have been undertaken (a secondary assistance center for firefighters in Brazzaville, a police health unit, and departmental territorial monitoring bureaus in Brazzaville and Ewo), as well as rehabilitation projects (the Mikalou police station in Brazzaville, and barracks for the Police Special Action Group (GASP)). The National Police has purchased vehicles and vessels, as well as communications equipment.
The Judicial Police services and investigation units have been strengthened. A training plan has been implemented to enable Judicial Police officers to obtain qualifications and to upgrade police officers’ knowledge of criminal procedure. In 2008, 170 police officers and 152 superintendents were trained at the National Police Academy in Brazzaville, 32 police officers and 28 superintendents took a training course in Cameroon and various training internships took place, and 20 officers were trained in the area of controlling migratory flows and the borders.
A number of seminars and round-table discussions were organized by Ministry of Defense social services to combat drug trafficking and drug abuse within the Armed Forces, and to foster respect for human rights, particularly where women and girls are concerned.
In addition, the Ministry of Defense mounted a voluntary HIV/AIDS screening campaign in 2008, and officers of the National Police played an active part in the awareness-raising campaign.
2.1.3. Decentralization, and departmental and local development
Implementation of the decentralization process is being pursued by establishing an institutional and legal apparatus for communities, and setting up councils at both the departmental and municipal levels.
Law No. 5-2005 of May 11, 2005 on the territorial civil service was promulgated in 2005. A joint committee (territorial development and the civil service) is now working on developing implementing regulations for this law.
In early 2009, a joint committee was set up to draft legal texts for transferring responsibilities to local communities. Out of 12 draft decrees planned, nine have already been prepared.
It also bears noting that another committee set up in 2006 is drafting texts governing local communities’ budgetary and tax mechanisms and reforms. Of the 25 draft texts planned (decrees and orders), nine have been prepared.
Urban and village-level backbones
As part of an ambitious program of accelerated municipalization, numerous social and economic infrastructure works construction or rehabilitation efforts have been carried out in the departments of Kouilou, Pointe-Noire, Niari, Likouala, and Cuvette. This program, currently under way in Brazzaville as well, is consistent with the options under the national territorial development plan, and involves a process of outfitting the various levels of the urban backbone with a view to stimulating economic dynamism everywhere. The process is being consolidated with improved oversight over operations. It includes projects in the general interest such as urban roads, sanitation, hotels and staff residences, water supply and electrification grids, and the construction of schools and CSIs.
In addition to improving the quality of life in urban areas, the government is vigorously pursuing the efforts to modernize the rural space. In this connection, in May 2009 it signed the contract on the State-Departments Plan, one of the financial tools for implementation of the territorial development policy. It makes budget allocations available to the departmental councils for use in carrying out projects intended to contribute to the revitalization of the village-level fabric, doig so in accordance with the equipment grid contained in the National Territorial Development Plan (SNAT). This contracting experiment initiated in 2006 is a significant need, as it makes it possible on the one hand to establish greater equilibrium among the rural areas, and, on the other hand, creates the conditions essential for a rebound in production.
A governance and decentralization training program has been developed, and in early 2009 the first training sessions were held on the central topic of governance and decentralization, territorial administration and local communities. Other training sessions are planned, and will cover governance and the administration of justice, project management, and local community resources.
Awareness-raising campaigns have been conducted with regard to the establishment of citizen participation mechanisms for running local affairs in order to foster the development of a framework for consensus-building between local communities and the Administration.
In 2008, a similar effort was undertaken on a trial basis for drawing up local development plans in Plateaux and Pool departments, with UNDP and World Bank support. There are plans to extend the same exercise to the other departments. A workshop is planned for May 2009.
To help resolve problems in recruiting and retaining teaching and health care personnel in the departments, plans call for positions in these sectors to be transferred to the departmental level.
All of these efforts will contribute to achieving the overall objective of promoting harmonious and sustainable local development.
2.1.4. Administrative and judicial governance
In the area of administrative and judicial governance, the government has committed itself to implementing reforms aimed at overhauling the civil service, reforming the legal and judicial system, promoting an understanding of legal procedures and texts, strengthening the capacities of administrative and penitentiary personnel, building or rehabilitating administrative and penitentiary infrastructure, and strengthening the national statistical system.
Completing the overhaul of the civil service will be decisive, particularly the revision of provisions governing civil servants and contractual employees, the reform of the State, and the tracking of civil-service work histories (Law No. 14-2007 of July 25, 2007). A draft decree establishing terms and conditions under which special, contractual, and other employees may be admitted to the civil service was submitted to the government’s General Secretariat (SGG) in 2008. The IT project to install the HR Payroll software application, which includes functions for tracking the work histories of civil servants and other government employees, is 80 percent implemented. This will make it possible to enhance the quality of public services and improve relations between the Public Administration and users.
As regards infrastructure, the rehabilitation of an additional building in Brazzaville has made it possible to relieve congestion at the ministry. Departmental civil service offices are being built in Pool and Cuvette, and are scheduled to be completed in 2009.
Organic Law No. 22-2008 of July 26, 2008 on the organization, composition, and functioning of the Higher Council of the Court System has been promulgated, and laws were enacted in 2008 to create the following new courts:
- Law No. 12-2008 establishing the Ouesso court of appeal;
- Law No. 13-2008 establishing the Kindamba court of first instance;
- Law No. 14-2008 establishing the Oyo court of first instance;
- Law No. 15-2008 establishing the Mossaka court of first instance.
In addition, work is now under way on adopting three major pieces of legislation: the Congolese Citizenship Code, a draft law on indigenous peoples, and a draft law on the modernization of justice.
With regard to capacity-building, three seminars have been held: one on the “Support for the Rule of Law” project (2008), one on the topic of “Justice, Quality, and Performance,” and one entitled “Introduction to OHADA accounting” (2009).
Efforts have been made to construct or rehabilitate buildings, with the following being particularly noteworthy:
- Work has been completed on building the Impfondo court of first instance.
- Work has been completed on renovating the Dolisie court of appeal.
- Construction work has continued on the Impfondo, Kinkala, Ouesso, Madingou, Sibiti, and Pointe-Noire prisons.
- Construction work has continued on the Mossaka and Kinkala courts of first instance.
- Construction work has continued on the Ounsé-Talangaï, Ignié, and Ngabé courts.
- Renovation work has continued on the Pointe-Noire courthouse and the Dolisie court of first instance.
The national statistical system
The monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the PRS continue to be hampered by the weakness of the national statistical system, which has been unable to provide data on all the monitoring and evaluation indicators for the first year of PRS implementation.
The country’s statistical system suffers from the following constraints:
- It has weak capacity for gathering, processing, analyzing, and disseminating data (financial constraints, physical constraints, and lack of human resources).
- The CNSEE’s current statistical output does not yet meet all user needs.
To remedy these shortcomings, a number of actions have been initiated to reorganize the national statistical system, as described below.
At the institutional level
A new statistics law has been drafted and validated by all the entities in the national statistical system. After being endorsed by the Supreme Court, the draft law was approved by the Cabinet Council and the Council of Ministers on May 7, 2009. It will be taken up by the National Assembly at its next regular session. This legislation will make it possible to reorganize statistics work and improve the effectiveness of the coordination mechanism of the national statistical apparatus.
In view of the provisions of the new statistics law, a National Strategy for Statistics Development (SNDS) covering the period 2010 to 2014 is now being prepared in order to organize the various sectors of statistical production around existing sectoral programs. A draft blueprint has been prepared and submitted to the government for adoption. In the short term, the blueprint calls for a steering committee to be set up to guide the process of formulating the SNDS.
In respect of capacity-building
Seasoned statisticians have been recruited by the Capacity-Building Project in Prospective Studies, Statistics, and Planning (RESPEC) and made available to the CNSEE to lend support and fresh momentum to its existing teams.
CNSEE officials have taken a number of training courses, including survey techniques, information systems, data archiving, and data analysis and use.
Agreements have been signed with statistics schools to provide for the systematic upgrading and professional development of CNSEE officials, as well as for the training of new statisticians.
The CNSEE has purchased IT equipment (computers, printers, photocopier, statistical software) to strengthen its operating capacity.
In the past two years, the CNSEE’s level of activity has rebounded as it has organized a series of statistical surveys, including the following in particular:
- basic survey on the use of integrated health centers, conducted in 2008;
- survey of HIV seroprevalence and AIDS indicators, of which the data collection phase is currently under way;
- general population and housing census, the results of which will be published in the third quarter of 2009;
- survey on the integration into the workforce of graduates of technical and vocational training, of which the data collection phase is planned for June 2009;
- survey on employment and the informal sector in urban areas, of which the data-collection phase is planned for June 2009;
- survey of the agricultural sector, of which the fieldwork phases are to begin in June 2009;
- CWIQ 2 survey, including household consumption, of which the data-collection phase is planned for the fourth quarter of 2009;
- preparation for the second Population and Health Survey (EDS), to be conducted in 2010.
2.1.5. Economic and financial governance
The emphasis in this area has been on reform, as the government has adopted two plans: the Government Financial Management Improvement Plan (PAGGFP), and the Action Plan for Improving Public Investment Management (PAAGIP).
These reforms are focused on the following:
- Bringing the budget nomenclature up to date
To bring it into line with international standards, the budget nomenclature has been updated with the addition of a functional module. It is a tool for analyzing public policy and especially policies to combat poverty.
- Drawing up and adopting a new government procurement code
A draft law on government procurement has been submitted to the commission for review. Pending its approval, significant measures have been taken to improve government procurement practices, including the following: a requirement that contracts exceeding CFAF 200 million be put to tender; restrictions on advance payments; strengthening of the physical and financial oversight of public investments; capacity-building for the Investment Project Research Center; and capacity-building for the Research and Planning Directorates in the areas of projects and strategic planning.
- Improving the preparation of the strategic and budgetary framework
The government is currently preparing the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) from which the annual budgets will henceforth be derived. The actions carried out in preparation for its implementation have included training the MTEF team in using the World Bank’s RMSM-X model for developing the macroeconomic frame of reference, training members of the technical team in preparing MTEFs, strengthening the capacities of the Research and Planning Directorates in the ministries, and creating “focal point” groups for the MTEF team in the priority sectoral ministries (health, education, and transport).
To this end, the authorities have requested enhanced technical assistance with an international expert being brought in, assisted by five junior experts. The objective is to establish a macroeconomic frame of reference and to develop a central MTEF and sectoral MTEFs as described above.
- Improving the execution and monitoring of the national budget
Just as in the case of the preparation of the national budget, significant reforms are being undertaken with respect to budget execution. Three key areas have been identified in which progress is expected: the expenditure chain, budget monitoring and evaluation, and payroll and pension administration.
The expenditure chain
In the wake of the first study to identify weaknesses in the expenditure chain, which was not validated by the government, it was agreed with the World Bank that the services of an internationally recognized consulting firm would be engaged with a view to carrying out the following actions: simplifying the expenditure system by reducing certain steps; redefining the expenditure file nomenclature; reducing expenditure file processing time; and establishing more transparent monitoring of the administrative and accounting steps in the expenditure system, broken down by ministry.
Monitoring and evaluation of the national budget
This is a crucial aspect of the execution of the national budget, which demands that the units responsible for producing, collecting, and gathering information be well organized. In February 2009, the government welcomed a mission from AFRITAC to assist in this area. The mission made a number of recommendations to the authorities. The African Development Bank is also planning to provide assistance in this area under the Project to Support the Improvement of the Expenditure System and the Monitoring of Poverty Indicators (PACDIP).
Payroll and pension administration
This reform is aimed at improving payroll administration using a single database maintained by both the ministry responsible for the civil service and the ministry responsible for the budget. Significant actions have been taken in this area, among them the revision of the payroll and pension program previously handled by Oracle software (90 percent of the work of this payroll program has been completed). Significant efforts have also been made to migrate to a powerful system better suited to the current needs of Congo’s Public Administration (see the migration project).
- Tax and customs reform
Introducing the Unique Identification Number (UIN) nationwide has enabled the tax administration to register all taxpayers and to create a single reference file for control and tracking purposes. The UIN, operational since 2005, has significantly strengthened the tax base although other significant efforts still need to be made in this area.
Similarly, the customs system has benefited from the introduction of ASYCUDA software. Its extension to Pointe-Noire, Ouesso, Impfondo, and Dolisie has resulted in better control of the customs revenue base and in an increase in customs receipts, although the pace of revenue growth remains modest. The authorities’ objective in using this application is to reduce the volume of exemptions under conventions, which continue to have a major impact on customs receipts. Much work is still needed to achieve this goal.
A number of measures to be implemented with technical support from AFRITAC are mentioned in the 2009 budget law, including: (i) establishing a single window to ensure integrated processing of commercial transactions at the Pointe-Noire border checkpoints; (ii) continuing the efforts to optimize and simplify customs clearance procedures; (iii) strengthening revenue control by extending the ASYCUDA system; (iv) ensuring rigorous management of electronic customs manifests; (v) introducing laser systems for checking containers; (vi) implementing the STAR risk analysis system; (vii) using ASYCUDA functionalities for administering goods in transit; (viii) reviewing customs privileges established in government procurement contracts, agreements, conventions, and other texts; (ix) implementing Decision 2-98 of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CAEMC) concerning concession agreements in the petroleum industry, including subcontractors; and (x) eliminating special exemptions and computerizing the procedures for granting and administering exemptions.
- Capacity-building for financial and planning agencies
Capacity-building in the area of strategic and financial planning is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to introduce new management tools. The program in this area is aimed at training nearly 400 personnel in MTEF preparation, budget and accounting management, and control systems. In the case of agencies responsible for planning, other support is also being provided to train DEPs and the units responsible for budget preparation in the ministries. From the institutional standpoint, a decree is now being circulated for approval which, once it is issued, will set out in clearer terms the DEPs’ organizational structure and responsibilities.
- Computerization of financial administration offices
The master plan for computerizing the ministry responsible for the financial administration offices has been adopted. Networking them in the next few years will contribute to gaining better control over the tax base and government expenditure, and to increasing government revenue and making it more secure.
To illustrate, budgetary resources are projected to be allocated in 2009 and forecast for 2010-2011 in keeping with the OAP for the PRSP in respect of public investments allocated as follows.
Under Pillar 1, transparency and combating corruption and fraud, there will be increases in own resources of 0.09 percent in 2008, 0.16 percent in 2009, 0.21 percent in 2010, and 0.36 percent in 2011.
In the growth sectors, there will be:
- stabilization of the effort made for the transport sector, with the appropriations allocated staying at approximately 29 percent;
- an increased effort in respect of electrical power, for which the relative share will increase from 4.52 percent to 5.46 percent and then to 7.01 percent;
- an ongoing effort in favor of the agriculture, livestock, and fisheries sector, for which the allocation against own resources will rise: 3.24 percent in 2008, 3.78 percent in 2009, 3.81 percent in 2010, and 3.96 percent in 2011; this increase in the appropriations allocated could be even greater if the consistency between the sectoral strategy and the projects submitted could be improved in the future.
In the social sectors, there will be:
- an increase in the health care sector, which grows from 4.75 percent in 2008 to 5.36 percent in 2009, 6.06 percent in 2010, and then to 6.27 percent in 2011, with the comment made in respect of the agricultural sector applying here as well;
- the same applies for the education sector overall, with a relative increase in its share from 5.68 percent in 2008 to 6.54 percent in 2009, 6.;80 percent in 2010, and then to 7.29 percent in 2011;
- an increase in the total appropriation for the water and sanitation areas, with annual shares over the 2008-2011 period coming to 7.29 percent, 7.29 percent, 7.65 percent, and 7.74 percent.
In sum, the PIP for 2009-2011 largely maintains the trends for 2009 by stabilizing the effort for transport infrastructures and increasing the shares for the major social sectors.
2.1.6. Transparency, corruption, and fraud
In this area, two bodies have been set up: the National Commission to Combat Corruption, Fraud, and Misappropriation, and the Anticorruption Observatory.
The National Bureau of Financial Investigation, established in 2008, further strengthens the institutional apparatus put in place to combat corruption, fraud, and misappropriation. In addition, the Audit Board carries out activities in the financial area, with support in capacity-building furnished by development partners.
Work is now under way to finalize the Anticorruption Law, which will be adopted by Parliament at its session in July 2009. This is one of the main elements for verifying the implementation of commitments to improve the quality of governance that the government entered into under the HIPC Initiative.
The report on the analytical study of governance has at last been completed, and the action plan is now being finalized.
A great effort has been made in regard to governance in the petroleum sector, particularly in increasing transparency thanks to audits done by international consulting firms of the National Petroleum Company of Congo (SNPC) and the Congolese Refining Company (CORAF). Oil production and revenue data are published regularly on the website of the Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Budget (MEFB).
Despite these efforts, however, the desired results have not yet been achieved. This is the situation with the marketing plan, which is still under discussion with the World Bank and the IMF. A project to change the SNPC over from an applied accounting system to a modern cost accounting system has been submitted to the World Bank mission.
Plans call for the following actions to be carried out by June 2009: submitting and publishing the audit report, with the opinion of the Observatory; finalizing the action plan and submitting it to the Observatory and the Government Anticorruption Commission for review; and submitting a report on the implementation of the oil marketing plan to the World Bank and IMF.
2.1.7. The environment
The environment is recognized as a subject that cuts across many sectors (the oil industry, forestry, agriculture, water supply and sanitation, urban development, and transport). The government has taken actions in all these sectors, but the will to act, the power to make decisions, and the responsibility to coordinate efforts to protect the environment on a sustainable basis fall within the political sphere.
Within the framework of the Central African Forests Commission and its Convergence Plan for the conservation and sustainable management of forest ecosystems in Central Africa, Congo set up a team in 2007 to conduct a feasibility study of a sectoral program encompassing forestry and the environment, in which financing agencies such as the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the French Development Agency, and the European Union expressed their interest. Obtaining this financing should make it possible to implement the program, following the example of other countries in the subregion (Gabon, Cameroon).
Law No. 37-2008 establishing a wildlife protection and land reserve system, was promulgated on November 28, 2008, replacing the previous system established under a law dating back to 1983.
The proposed National Agency for Wildlife Protection and Land Reserves was established pursuant to Article 118 of the new law on wildlife and protected areas in order to have an operational and high-performance instrument. This project is supported by the European Union’s European Development Fund (EDF).
The surface area protected as a land reserve has been increased from 1,699,336 hectares in 1998 to 3,655,402 hectares. Overall, it covers 11.6 percent of the national territory with 2 million hectares of productive forest used for the timber industry.
The network of protected areas includes three national parks (Odzala-Kokoua, Nouabalé-Ndoki, and Conkouati-Douli), four wildlife reserves (Léfini, Mont Fouari, Nyanga Nord, and Tsoulou), one community reserve (Lake Télé), 1one biosphere reserve (Dimonika), four sanctuaries (Lésio-Louna, Lossi, Tchimpounga, and Koubou), and two hunting areas (Mont Mavoumbou and Nyanga Sud).
Concessions are now being granted for all or parts of the national parks and are being encouraged to attract private investors to promote ecotourism. In late June 2008, works were started on the two-year project to develop the Patte d’Oie Forest Reserve in Brazzaville as a zoo and botanical garden, in partnership with the FAi2D (Fondation Appui International pour le Développement Durable—International Aid for Sustainable Development Foundation).
Congo organized the Sixth Global Forum on Sustainable Development from October 27 to 30, 2008. It produced the Brazzaville Declaration on sustainable development, which included the following important recommendations:
- support to the Congo Basin Forests Partnership (CBFP) for the efforts of the Congo Basin countries in the post-Kyoto climate negotiation process;
- contributions to a carbon fund paid by countries with carbon gas emissions. This fund will be allocated to the renewable management of forests and agriculture;
- establishment of an African Executive Secretariat for Sustainable Development, headquartered in Brazzaville, and an African Sustainable Development Fund, based on the African Environmental Facility, for which the African Development Bank (AfDB) would determine the operating organization, rules, and mechanisms.
Short-term actions are planned such as public information campaigns and the inclusion of environmental issues in school curricula.
In the area of training, a seminar has been held for officials of departmental delegations to encourage the dissemination of information in the field.
In 2008, a preparatory study was done for establishing an analytical laboratory, as well as a study for establishing a scientific watchdog unit.
The government has made gender a central concern in its socioeconomic and cultural development policy. Equality between men and women must be an objective not only in political life but also in the public and private sectors.
The government adopted a national policy on gender in January 2008 and the related action plan in January 2009.
Draft legislation ensuring that women have equal access to political, elective, and administrative positions is now before Parliament awaiting adoption. The Protocol on the Rights of Women to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights has been ratified. Law No. 01-2008 of January 22, 2008, formalizes Congo’s accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and was adopted in 2008. Activities have been carried out to publicize the solemn declaration by the heads of state and of government of the African Union on the equality of men and women.
In the parliamentary sphere, an information guide was prepared for women candidates in the 2008 elections, material and financial support was provided for women candidates in those elections, parliamentarians were given training on gender issues and the work of the bureau responsible for women’s issues, and the Women Ministers and Parliamentarians Network was strengthened so that it could fulfill the function of providing women with training and guidance to enable them to participate fully in the decision-making process.
Activities to raise awareness and disseminate information have been carried out, such as: (i) providing women with leadership training and producing a documentary on the cultural, legal, and economic status of women aimed at ensuring that women are properly represented in all walks of public and private life; and (ii) combating HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections.
Various specific actions such as the following have been carried out to promote women’s autonomy, in partnership with agencies of the United Nations, NGOs, associations, and faith-based groups in Brazzaville and in the departments: imparting new dynamism to the Women’s Research, Information, and Documentation Center (CRIDF), known as the “Women’s House”; providing support for 27 women’s savings and loan associations; and opening 10 training centers for girls in welding, ironworking, and dressmaking, information technology and the Internet; and providing training for girls in craft trades (preparation of baked goods, preparation of fruit juices, soapmaking, knitting, etc.).
Regarding combating discrimination against women and preventing violence against women and children, two points may be mentioned: a surveillance apparatus has been established at the ministry level to identify, record, and work to eliminate violence against women and children; and a study has been conducted to review school textbooks for sexual stereotyping, with the aim of eliminating inequalities between girls and boys in education.
2.2. PILLAR 2—Promoting macroeconomic growth and stability
In 2008, Congo posted a growth rate of 6.4 percent, a significant improvement over 2007 when the economy shrank 1.6 percent owing mainly to a decline in oil production. To reduce Congo’s reliance on oil to fuel economic growth, the government is committed to diversifying the economy’s productive base by encouraging the following key sectors: agriculture, forestry, mining, tourism, and small and medium-sized enterprises. Thus, non-oil GDP posted slower growth of 5.4 percent in 2008, compared to 6.6 percent in 2007. This growth was associated with the following areas: agricultural production (6.2 percent); forestry (3.2 percent); manufacturing (7.0 percent); transport and communications (6.8 percent); and construction and public works (7.6 percent). These sectors need to be supported by developing transport and communications systems, ensuring that new information and communications technologies (NICTs) come into widespread use, and adopting sound energy practices.
In 2007, government revenue was equal to 50 percent of GDP, chiefly because of the increase in oil revenue. The estimate for 2008 is 35 percent of GDP. In 2007, government expenditure was equal to 35.5 percent of GDP. Expenditure commitments for 2008 stand at just over 24.5 percent of GDP. Capital investment using the government’s own resources amounted to about 10 percent of GDP in 2008 as compared to 8.7 percent of GDP in 2007.
The primary balance (excluding grants) has remained positive since 2004, which bears witness to the government’s capacity to handle domestic spending. In 2008, this balance was equal to 10.5 percent of GDP. During the same period, the overall balance on a commitment basis (excluding grants) was equal to 10.5 percent of GDP.
As regards foreign trade in goods and services, a strong rebound in exports is evident, with a shift from a sharp decline of 18.7 percent in 2007 to an increase of 12.7 percent in volume in 2008 thanks to shipments of oil and gas, eucalyptus logs, and lumber, and the promotion of eucalyptus wood chips as raw material for pulp-making. There was also a modest increase in imports (8.5 percent, compared with 6.9 percent in 2007), particularly imports of services used by the oil industry.
With respect to rising prices, the government has taken significant steps to reduce taxes and relieve the burden on the household food basket. Nevertheless, the rate of inflation is estimated at 4.5 percent in 2008, reflecting the spike in global commodity prices.
As of December 31, 2007, Congo’s total public debt was estimated at CFAF 3,542.9 billion, consisting of CFAF 3,238.9 billion in external debt (91.4 percent) and CFAF 304.0 billion in domestic debt (8.6 percent). In 2008, thanks to rescheduling agreements signed with private unsecured creditors and other bilateral creditors (among them Romania, Bulgaria, and Libya), the country’s total debt was expected to decline to less than CFAF 2,614.6 billion, 24.3 percent below the 2007 level.
This downward trend in the country’s overall debt level, which has been in evidence since 2004, strengthens debt sustainability ratios. Thus, the ratio of public debt to GDP has improved from 160.5 percent in 2004 to 44.9 percent in 2008, the ratio of public debt to budget revenue has improved from 534 percent in 2004 to 89.9 percent in 2008, and the ratio of public debt to exports of goods and services has improved from 205.5 percent in 2004 to 49.8 percent in 2008.
Oil production in 2008 was estimated at 12 million metric tons as compared to 11.2 million metric tons in 2007, while exports were estimated at 11.4 million metric tons in 2008 as against 10.5 million metric tons in 2007. Exports of refined petroleum products fell from 436,500 metric tons in 2007 to 306,000 metric tons in 2008.
Despite a technical problem with the Kitina oil well and a sharp drop in oil prices toward the end of 2008, oil revenues increased overall in 2008 and amounted to 85 percent of GDP.
The oil sector is intended to serve as an engine not only to spur the revival of the national economy, and particularly the agriculture, transport, and general infrastructure sectors, but also to help raise the living standards of the Congolese people by providing basic social services.
Making the most of the State’s share of crude oil
The consulting firm KPMG has conducted an audit of how the SNPC markets the State’s share of crude oil. This audit has been used as the basis for an action plan developed by the SNPC, the World Bank, and the IMF to enable the SNPC to improve its operations in this area and thereby increase government revenues.
Decree No. 2008-15 establishing procedures for issuing oil and gas exploitation licenses was issued on December 11, 2008.
Improving oversight of production and exports
Under their contractual commitments, petroleum operators are required to provide the government with daily, weekly, and monthly petroleum reports so that the country’s production can be continuously monitored. Consequently, all major incidents that might affect production are immediately reported to government authorities. On behalf of the Republic of Congo, the independent inspection firm Bureau Veritas monitors all shipments from the country’s oil terminals and regularly provides the administrative authorities with detailed reports on shipments.
Capacity-building is covered by training budgets established under production-sharing agreements, with the assistance of a development partner (the World Bank’s Transparency and Governance Capacity Building Project (PRCTG)).
With support from the PRCTG, work is also beginning on setting up a petroleum database.
Improving the governance of petroleum resources, and the transparency of petroleum resource management
The Republic of Congo regularly conducts audits of government oil revenues, which are certified quarterly. Conclusions and recommendations derived from these audits are then applied in managing the oil companies. In June 2004, Congo joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The Executive Committee established an action plan which was accepted and validated in February 2008 by the EITI International Board in Accra, giving the Republic of Congo the status of “country implementing the EITI.” The EITI Executive Committee and Consultative Committee meet regularly, and their members participate in capacity-building activities at both the national and international levels. In December 2008, an independent conciliator was named to perform the important task of reconciling payments by private operators in extractive industries during the period 2004 to 2006 with revenues recorded by the Public Treasury. The current objective is to have the Republic of Congo’s first EITI report completed by June 2009, with validation of the country’s status as “country implementing the EITI” by March 2010.
Promotion of subcontracting and strengthening of local technical expertise
A decree on the management of subcontracting in the petroleum industry has been published in the Official Gazette. The Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Budget has had an audit done on the taxation of petroleum industry subcontracting, which has provided conclusions and recommendations that the Directorate-General of Taxes can use as a basis for implementing an action plan to improve tax revenues in this area. A program in petroleum economics has been established at Marien Ngouabi University, and plans call for an institution specializing in trades needed by the oil industry to the built and opened in the near future.
Ensuring that supplies of petroleum products are available to people throughout the country
Given that the objective of ensuring adequate supplies of petroleum products nationwide and rehabilitating distribution points for petroleum products has not been fully met, the government has established a strategy as part of the process of privatizing the petroleum products distribution sector, aimed at providing full nationwide coverage, ensuring continuous supplies, regulating prices, and maintaining equilibrium in the domestic oil market.
Increasing refining capacity
The consulting firm KPMG has carried out an analytical and operational study of the Congolese Refining Company (CORAF). The conclusions and recommendations provided by that major study, in combination with the information contained in various financial audits of CORAF’s senior management operations, have been used to draw up an action plan aimed at strengthening both internal management and technical and operational management. Implementing that action plan will make it possible to increase refining capacity and to use better-quality crude such as Nkossa in order to improve the overall quantity and quality of the plant’s output of petroleum products.
Pollution control and waste management
Oil companies operating in the Republic of Congo are required to comply with the legislation in force. In particular, they are required to provide reports on the health, safety, and environmental aspects of their operations, which are then examined by the Pollution Control Unit of the Ministry of Oil and Gas and other appropriate government authorities. Drills are conducted for containing major releases of pollutants, in preparation for possible emergencies. Local communities are involved in the sanitation and waste management policy. Government agencies require capacity-building so that they can better monitor and deal with pollution control and waste management.
The rainforest of the Congo basin covers over 2 million square kilometers, of which 240,000 square kilometers lie within Congo’s borders (65 percent of the country’s land area). Only the rainforest of the Amazon basin is larger. Thus, the Congo basin is one of the richest and most important ecosystems, biologically, on the face of the planet. After oil, forestry is the country’s second most important growth sector, but only accounts for 4-5 percent of GDP, far less than its potential. Developing the forestry sector by improving resource management and having a larger volume of forest products processed locally is a major challenge that the Congolese government intends to pursue during the years ahead.
Where appropriate, actions in this sector—whether in terms of economics or in terms of the conservation of this environmental and cultural heritage—incorporate a regional perspective on the problems of the Congo basin forest. This is ensured through the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC), which works on the basis that forest conservation is a regional responsibility shared by 10 countries and seeks to develop synergies among the 10 countries’ forest administrations.
The Congolese government is aware of the region’s exceptional biodiversity, which forms part of the global commons (not only is most of the world’s gorilla population to be found within Congo’s borders, but the country is also home to many other mammals and plants threatened with extinction). Numerous protected areas have been established, which are administered with support from NGOs and donors.
These efforts have to bring economic benefits to local communities. This can be achieved by developing economic activities that offer an alternative to poaching and promote ecotourism in and near protected areas. Still, ecotourism cannot bring in enough revenue to offset the cost of managing protected areas.
As regards the exploitation of forest resources, beyond the direct employment it provides, the forestry sector plays an important role in reducing poverty. For a significant portion of Congo’s population, the forests remain the main source of energy and food; forestry operations provide the inhabitants of remote areas with basic services and with a link to the rest of the country.
With regard to improving the management of forest resources, the following actions have been taken. A Forestry and Environment Sectoral Program is being developed, and the data collection phase is complete. Two programs are under way with support from the FAP and the French Development Agency (AFD) to evaluate forest resources and improve the management of forest concession arrangements. The process of certifying Forest Management Units (UFAs) is continuing: the Kabo UFA was certified in 2006, followed by the Pokola and Gombe UFAs in 2008 and 2009, thus bringing the total certified area to 2,011,000 hectares. The government has recently begun negotiations with the European Union to conclude a partnership agreement aimed at ensuring the sustainable management of forest resources and transparency in the lumber trade. The agreement is expected to be signed in May 2009.
Capacity-building efforts for the ministry resulted in the staffing level being increased by 150 in 2008, and in two courses being held (one on cartography, botany, and inventory, and the other on forest economics), with the support of the Emergency Community Renewal and Support Project (PURAC).
The proportion of products being processed locally has improved considerably, from 35 percent in 1998 to 60 percent in 2008, as a result of restructuring and the implementation of the “85/15” output processing policy.
The production of tropical woods (raw logs) declined as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. It is estimated at 1,212,118 m3 in 2008 as compared to 1,331,951 m3 in 2007.
Overall exports by volume increased from 1,009,034 m3 in 2007 to 1,067,985 m3 in 2008, an increase of 58,951 m3 in absolute value and a change of 5.85 percent.
In response to the crisis affecting the forest industry since the end of 2008, the forestry companies operating in the northern part of the country have asked the government to provide tax relief as well as other measures to help offset the decline in production. The government has acceded to their wishes and granted special exemptions to support the sector.
2.2.3. Agriculture, livestock, and fisheries
Agriculture and livestock
With an area of 342,000 square kilometers offering roughly 10 million hectares of arable land, a population of 3.5 million people, abundant rainfall, and a dense network of rivers and streams, Congo has clear potential to become self-sufficient in agriculture and even to produce farm products for export. Moreover, the agricultural sector is one of the areas that the government has chosen as being of high priority for diversifying the national economy in the post-petroleum period.
In 1960, agriculture was the most important sector in Congo’s economy, and farm production was the principal source of revenue for about 80 percent of the population. Today, no more than 40 percent of Congolese earn their living from farming. From 1965 to 2003, agriculture’s share of GDP fell by approximately two-thirds, from nearly 20 percent in 1965 to 6.2 percent in 2005 (see chart below). The decline in agriculture’s share of GDP is attributable to the increasing importance of oil in the country’s economy during the same period. Oil’s share of GDP has been rising steadily, from 50 percent of GDP in 2003 to 62 percent in 2007. One of the most important consequences of the agricultural sector’s weak performance has been persistent, deepening rural poverty (according to the 2005 ECOM survey, 65.2 percent of rural households live below the poverty line, compared with 40 percent of urban households).
Under the National Food Security Program (PNSA), the government has made it a fundamental objective to increase output and productivity quickly, and to improve and diversify food production by employing measures to ensure that local communities have access to food of sufficient quality and in sufficient quantities.
In 2008, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock reorganized the Agricultural Support Fund. It has carried out development activities in technical centers, as in the case of improved seeds at the Etsouali, Mayoumina, and Néméyong centers, cattle at the Boundji and Dihesse technical support centers, and extension activities to disseminate information on crop-growing and livestock-raising techniques in Kombé, Brazzaville (Agricongo), Dolisie, Pointe-Noire, and Ouesso. Research activities have been carried out at the Loudima Agronomic Research Center and under the National Extension, Research, and Adaptation Program.
Farm machinery has been acquired (36 Landini tractors with a full complement of accessories using the government’s own funds, plus eight fully equipped tractors as a donation from the Libyan government), as well as improved seeds. In the area of livestock-raising, heifers have been acquired and distributed, and the system of métayage, or tenant cattle farmers paying rent in kind, has been promoted.
A mechanized services center has been set up to assist farmers.
Seminars and training workshops have been held for capacity-building.
Storehouses for farm products have been built by the National Seed Improvement Center.
The main programs sponsored by development partners in the agricultural and rural sector are described below.
The Agricultural Development and Rural Road Rehabilitation Project (PDARP), programmed for the period 2007 to 2012, is valued at US$40 million. It is funded for up to US$20 million by the World Bank, with the remaining US$20 million as counterpart funding provided by the government. The main objective of this project is to strengthen the capacities of rural producers, to improve their productivity and hence increase their income by developing and disseminating improved agricultural techniques, developing market infrastructure, and implementing farm policies and programs aimed at reducing poverty.
A € 4 million food security project, expected to commence operations at the beginning of 2009, is being sponsored by the European Commission. Its objective is to promote mixed farming, livestock-raising, fish-farming, and tree cultivation in the South Pool region.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is funding two rural development projects whose work is now coming to an end: one in Plateaux, Cuvette, and West Cuvette departments (PRODER North), and the other in Bouenza, Lékoumou, and Niari departments (PRODER South). A third rural development project for Pool, Sangha, and Likouala departments (PRODER 3) is now in the pre-evaluation stage.
For its part, the FAO is a major partner providing technical assistance to the authorities in developing and carrying out rural development programs.
In the fisheries and fish-farming sector, the objective is to expand aquaculture and increase fisheries harvests on a sustainable basis in order to contribute to food security and to the country’s growth.
The following decrees have been issued for the purpose of organizing the fisheries sector:
- Decree No. 2008-312 of August 5, 2008, establishing the organizational structure of the Ministry of Maritime and Inland Fisheries, responsible for aquaculture;
- Decree No. 2008-313 of August 5, 2008, establishing the organizational structure and the duties and responsibilities of the Directorate-General of Maritime Fisheries;
- Decree No. 2008-314 of August 5, 2008, establishing the organizational structure and the duties and responsibilities of the Directorate-General of Inland Fisheries;
- Decree No. 2008-315 of August 5, 2008, establishing the organizational structure and the duties and responsibilities of the Directorate-General of Aquaculture;
- Decree No. 2008-316 of August 5, 2008, establishing the organizational structure and the duties and responsibilities of the Office of the Inspector-General of Maritime Fisheries, Inland Fisheries, and Aquaculture;
- Establishment of departmental directorates of fisheries and aquaculture in every department of the country;
- Decision No. 0003/MPCA/CAB/DGPAM of February 14, 2008, barring the transshipment of fish, other fisheries products, and their derivatives at sea;
- Order No. 2009-33 of February 6, 2009, laying down provisions relating to the meshing of nets and to the equipment used in maritime fisheries.
In addition, draft legislation to organize inland fisheries and aquaculture has recently been passed by the National Assembly and is now before the Senate.
In 2008, the government began the process of preparing a sustainable development strategy for fisheries and aquaculture. Two capacity-building projects have been completed in fishing communities. In this connection fisheries and aquaculture materials and equipment have been distributed to roughly 100 cooperatives, which have also received training, especially in the departments of Plateaux, la Cuvette, and Pool, and in Brazzaville. This activity is continuing now in other departments.
In the area of fisheries and aquaculture infrastructure construction, studies have been completed on the following:
Construction of the modern market in Yoro, Brazzaville;
Construction of the fisheries products landing stage at Mpouya in the Plateaux department;
Production and marketing of Niari shrimp.
To curtail the piracy of fisheries resources, two launches have been acquired for use in the surveillance of fisheries activities in the Congolese Exclusive Economic Zone (ZEE), and the illuminated marker buoys for controlling fisheries operations have been installed.
The government is committed to developing the mining sector to complement the country’s other growth sectors. An important step now being taken in this regard is to prepare a master plan for the mining sector which will make for a clearer and more comprehensive overall strategy.
Plans call for special funding to be provided for conducting geological studies throughout the country, to gain a better understanding of Congo’s underground wealth.
Congo has joined the Kimberley Process, and the following legal texts have been issued to give effect to its participation:
- Decree No. 2008-336 of September 22, 2008, establishing the permanent secretariat of the Kimberley Process and designating its members;
- Decree No. 2008-337 of September 22, 2008, establishing procedures for implementing the Kimberley Process certification system;
- A directive supplementing certain provisions contained in Decree 2007-247 of May 21, 2007, with a view to the implementation of the Kimberley Process certification system.
Decree No. 2008-338, of September 22, 2008, has also been issued, establishing the organizational structure and the duties and responsibilities of the Bureau for Assay, Evaluation, and Certification of Precious Minerals (BEEC).
Additional draft decrees now being reviewed by the government’s General Secretariat include:
- A decree establishing the statutes of the National Geological and Mining Research Center (CNRGM);
- A decree establishing standards for protecting against the dangers of ionizing radiation;
- A decree setting out the ethical, financial, and technical conditions applicable to opening a kiosk or office that buys precious minerals.
Moreover, seven draft laws are under review before the Supreme Court, namely: a law setting the rates and collection rules for mining royalties, a law setting the rates and collection rules for equipment fees and the periodic requalification of pressurized equipment, a law on sources of radioactivity, the law on industrial security, the law creating the mining fund, and the law creating the CNRGM.
Work is now under way on setting up the BEEC and the CNRGM. In preparation for the establishment of a geological database, 17 staff members have received information technology and Internet training.
In 2008, a number of mining licenses were issued to private operators:
- 57 prospecting license, issued to 28 companies;
- 24 exploration licenses, issued to 14 companies;
- Three development licenses, issued two companies: to Magminéral, for potassium in Kouilou, and to SOREMI for iron in Boko Songho and Yanga-Koubanza.
Also in 2008, three exploration agreements were signed: with Motaba Mining, for rough diamonds in Likouala; with Zengwei Congo for potassium salts in Kouilou; and with DMC for base metals (copper, zinc, and lead) at Mayoko in Niari.
Missions to identify peat deposits and determine their extent were conducted in Kouilou in 2008, with a view to developing this resource.
To improve coordination of the small-scale mining sector, a mission to identify and determine the extent of small-scale diamond workings was conducted in Niari with a view to setting up miners’ cooperative associations. Technical material was distributed to the miners on this occasion. The same thing should be done in 2009 in the northern part of the country (in Cuvette, Sangha, and Likouala).
2.2.5. Promotion of the private sector
By participating in the production of the nation’s wealth both within Congo and abroad, the private sector should be able to become a driving force in financing economic activity in the country. Ensuring that the private sector can play this role means promoting and developing the country’s industrial fabric, promoting and developing domestic and external trade, fostering small and medium-sized enterprises, and developing financial institutions focused on savings deposits and lending.
Evidence of the effort to foster the development of the private sector can be found in the second National Exhibition of Industrial and Craft Products, held in Brazzaville.
A Charter for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises has been drawn up, and draft legal texts establishing the organizational structure and the duties and responsibilities of the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Observatory will be submitted to the government shortly.
Studies have been conducted on setting up a subcontracting clearinghouse and on business partnerships. Incubators of new enterprises have been set up, and feasibility studies have been done on funding for seed capital, development capital, and guarantees; and the necessary decrees to set this in motion have been readied for signature. Activities in connection with industry have included the following: implementing the master plan for industrial development; developing a comprehensive program for the lumber industry; doing feasibility studies for a Standards and Quality Management Center; carrying out a corn processing project; designing a comprehensive program to develop the agri-food industry; carrying out a study for the development of a construction materials industry; and identifying sites for industrial development.
As regards commerce, the government has updated Decree No. 86-1015 of November 3, 1986, establishing distribution regulations, and issued memorandum No. 0147/MCCA-CAB of July 14, 2008, setting up a national commission to review price regimes. Other legal provisions promoting commerce have also been published, including: (i) Decree No. 2000/483 of November 21, 2008, regulating display vending; (ii) Decree No. 2008/445 of November 15, 2008 introducing the nomenclature for commercial activities; (iii) Decree No. 2008/446 of November 15, 2008, establishing the modalities for obtaining a professional merchant’s license; and (iv) Decree No. 2008/447 of November 15, 2008, establishing the conditions for modifying, extending, and transferring commercial activities and setting the amount of regulatory fees.
To address the food crisis and the sharp price increases for certain basic commodities, substantial easing of taxes has been advocated in order to improve the cost of the household food basket.
In the area of competition regulation, a draft competition law and a draft consumer protection law have been finalized. Work is currently under way on preparing a draft decree establishing commercial oversight regulations.
Basic commercial infrastructure is being built, as evidenced by the opening of the modern market in Oyo on November 3, 2008, and the ongoing work being done on markets in Dolisie and Owando.
A number of training sessions and awareness-raising seminars have been provided for retail and neighborhood merchants. At the same time, various additional multifaceted forms of support have been made available to improve project formulation of projects and strengthen the functioning of vendors’ associations. A fund has been established to finance project feasibility studies. Capacity-building for professionals in the commerce
sector has taken the form of training sessions and seminars covering the formulation, negotiation, and implementation of business policies.
The banking sector has been restructured as part of the government’s liberalization policy. This has led to the establishment of a national housing bank (Banque de l’Habitat) and the creation of new banking and insurance organizations (Ecobank, Africa Bank, etc.). The ratio of bank deposits to non-oil GDP has grown from 29.6 percent in 2006 to 31.8 percent in 2007 and to 37.4 percent in 2008. Lending as a proportion of GDP has risen fivefold, from 12.0 percent in 2006 to 18.2 percent in 2007 and to 66.1 percent in 2008. Moreover, microlending institutions are blossoming.
The government’s policy is supported by the establishment of the National Bureau of Financial Investigation, which strengthens the institutional apparatus to combat corruption, fraud, and misappropriation.
2.2.6. Craft industries
Craft industries employ a large share of the population, particularly in the informal sector, and have an important role to play in fighting poverty in Congo.
In order to have a coherent strategy for the sector, the government is currently developing a master plan for craft industries. The National Plan for the Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Craft Industries has been submitted to the government for approval. The National Assembly adopted the Law on Craft Industries in March 2009.
A census of small and medium-sized enterprises, craft workers, and craft enterprises was conducted in 2008. It identified 1,341 small and medium-sized enterprises and 3,841 craft workers and craft enterprises.
Capacity-building efforts in this area have been carried out, such as training sessions on the protection of craft products and training sessions for Public Administration personnel at the national and departmental levels.
Support missions by French craft workers to visit woodworkers in Dolisie, Owando, and Kinkala have been made under the Craft Worker and Microenterprise Cooperation and Support Program (COSAME).
As a way to promote craft industries, plans call for a craft industry village to be set up in 2009.
Tourism in Congo is still in its infancy. But given the country’s potential in wild plant and animal life, craft industries, culture, and history, the tourism sector should expand in future years and thus contribute to economic growth and the fight against poverty.
In the short term, with the aim of regulating the development of the sector, Decree No. 04/078 of January 19, 2004, has been issued, governing establishments that provide lodging and food, and a directive has been published establishing hotel rating standards (Directive No. 2710/MCAT-CAB of March 26, 2007). The classification process is under way. A tourist guidebook was published in 2008.
In regard to the development of hotel infrastructure, the renovation of the Le Kouyou Hotel in Owando was completed in 2008, construction of a large hotel in Dolisie was completed at the beginning of 2009, and construction of a large hotel in Oyo is currently under way and expected to be completed toward the end of 2011.
In Brazzaville, the renovation of the luxury Mbamou Palace hotel (which has over 200 rooms) is under way, and is expected to be completed in 2010.
A study on developing the Mah village tourist site was done in 2008. A study on developing the Cataractes tourist site is now under way and will be completed in 2009.
In the area of capacity-building, it should be noted that, for the second year in a row, five students were sent to the Ngaoundéré school of hotel management in Cameroon.
Sectors supporting growth
Developing transportation systems is vital for the country’s economic development, and a National Transportation Plan (PNT) has been put in place. The government’s policy on rehabilitating the country’s infrastructure base involves building new infrastructure and mobilizing substantial financial resources to consolidate and develop basic infrastructure, opening up access to the interior and unifying the national territory, developing all modes of transport and intraregional trade, and building upon the country’s role as a hub for transportation within Central Africa.
In the area of overland transport, steps taken by the government include updating texts, publicizing overland transport regulations, and engaging in dialogue through an information forum with economic operators in the sector.
Road counting and signaling equipment has been acquired to ensure road safety and security. Two bus terminals are under construction at Dolisie and Owando. Three inspection and surveillance activities (permanent missions) have taken place in connection with construction on the Obouya-Boundji-Okoyo, Pointe-Noire-Dolisie and Owando-Makoua-Yengo stretches of road. A study is currently under way for the Brazzaville-Pointe-Noire oil pipeline.
Major road upgrading and paving works (approximately 250 km) have been performed on:
- Previously paved roads needing upgrading or special maintenance (heritage preservation): Bouansa Mouyondzi-Moukoukoulou dam, Pointe-Noire-Dolisie, Obouya-Boundji-Okoyo, Obouya-Owando;
- Rehabilitation of the Brazzaville-Kinkala section;
- Modernization of the Brazzaville urban road system (Brazzaville second exit north; Avenue de la Paix between the Poto-Poto and Moungali roundabouts), Avenue de l’OUA and Avenue des trois martyrs in Brazzaville, access road to the Nkombo national television center;
- Makoua, Owando, Oyo, Dolisie, Mosséndjo, and Nkayi urban highways, and Mbounda secondary school access roads.
Since 2005, the Road Fund has functioned as an annexed budget earmarked for road maintenance. In the past there have been difficulties allocating revenues to this fund. Resourcing the road fund in line with the second generation road fund profile is becoming a necessity and remains the only solution to rational management of road maintenance. Such resourcing ensures full and systematic allocation of funds collected by the Office of the Treasurer/Paymaster-General.
With respect to rail transport, a minimum emergency investment program (2007-2009) has been prepared for upgrading in this important area to enable the Congo-Ocean Railway [Chemin de Fer Congo-Océan] (CFCO) to recover its traffic performance. Peak numbers of 1,650,000 metric tons and 4.5 million passengers date back to 1976 and 1986, respectively.
In 2008, the CFAF 18 billion envelope provided (CFAF 17 billion executed) enabled large-scale operations to be launched with regard to both tracks and railway equipment. This led to increased activity under the CFCO rehabilitation and equipment program and reinstatement of normal operations for hauling and towing equipment. Of note are the completion of contouring work in the flood zone, rehabilitation of the Pointe-Noire maintenance station, and–in terms of equipment–the acquisition of five locomotives, the overhaul of CC500 type locomotives, upgrading of 6/13 routing devices and procurement of communication system equipment.
Finally, an expert study was conducted on rehabilitation of the long tunnel.
In 2009, sizable appropriations were made available, making it possible to place orders for the items listed below, currently awaiting delivery:
- Acquisition of two or three line locomotives, used passenger cars, and a VSAT satellite communication system;
- Rehabilitation of 200 cars; and
- Continued track upgrading and rehabilitation of the long tunnel.
The CFCO minimum emergency program planned for 2007-2009 has experienced some slippage and could be extended as far out as 2012 if the amount of CFAF 30.4 billion programmed for 2009 is not disbursed in time.
With respect to river transport, navigable routes are now being maintained by dredging the Brazzaville port area; two additional dredging machines are now being acquired to accelerate this work. In terms of rehabilitating Brazzaville river port infrastructure, work has begun on a container terminal and to rehabilitate warehouses. Thanks to strengthened technical and operational capacity, the fleet is being upgraded with two cargo barges (the Ngobila, with 2 x 400 metric horsepower, and the Odouka with 2 x 140 metric horsepower). Radio communication equipment, computers, river unit surveillance equipment, a patrol boat, and five motorized floating units have been purchased to strengthen surveillance operations. Dredging work and construction of a dike in Mossaka are unfolding normally and will continue into 2009, and a similar project is planned for Makotipoko.
With respect to air transport, regulatory texts governing accreditation have been updated and disseminated to improve conditions for aircraft procurement. In terms of airport infrastructure, work continues on the extension of the second runway at Maya-Maya and construction of the new airport terminal. Work has taken place at Ollombo, Impfondo and d’Owando, and the Nkayi and Makoua runways have been rehabilitated. Air traffic control equipment has been purchased for the new airport terminals.
Concerning ocean and merchant marine transport, the goal is to make the Pointe-Noire Autonomous Port (PAPN) a subregional maritime power. As the primary hub port and transshipment center for freight from the Central African subregion because of its geographical position, the Pointe-Noire port is located at the crossroads of major ocean routes and can serve as a connection point between Atlantic Europe, the eastern coast of the United States and the eastern cost of South America, on one hand, and southern Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Asia, on the other.
PAPN has a very ambitious priority investment program (PIP) that it is financing with donor funding from the French development agency (AFD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the Central African States Development Bank (BDEAC) under an agreement signed in March 2009. The PAPN management and expansion agreement with the Bollore Group was signed in January 2009.
The introduction of a marine transport virtual portal, being piloted by the Public Works Directorate, is proceeding normally. The Brussels-based firm Bureau International Maritime (BIMV) has presented the portal prototype to the Pointe-Noire port community, and a membership campaign was launched by the Ministry on November 27, 2008.
Coast guard operations and measures to combat ocean pollution and coastal erosion have been addressed at seminars on coastal erosion held in Matombi (Department of Kouilou). The merchant marine code for which the financing agreement was signed on December 23, 2008 is being enforced effectively.
With respect to capacity-building, a subregional workshop was held on ocean search and rescue operations in Brazzaville, as were a seminar on implementing the International Ship and Port Facilitates Security Code (ISPS Code) and a training session on women’s role in the sector from March 9 to 11, 2009 in Pointe-Noire.
Participation by development partners largely took the form of the following activities:
Under the ninth European Development Fund (EDF), the European Commission has financed work on highway RN1 (the Djoué Bridge at Matoumbou and the Gambari Bridge at Loutete), dredging of the Brazzaville port and institutional support for the Road Fund.
Under the tenth EDF, support measures are under way to enhance navigability at the Brazzaville port, rehabilitation with State cofinancing of highway RN1 along 60 km (Gambari-Mindouli), rehabilitation with State cofinancing of the Brazzaville port, rehabilitation of CFCO with State cofinancing, and institutional support for the Road Fund.
The World Bank is active in the transportation sector through the Agricultural Development and Rural Roads Rehabilitation Project (PDARP).
The African Development Bank is also active in the transportation sector and is planning to undertake a study for the Brazzaville-Kinshasa highway/rail bridge to strengthen economic integration between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo. The study should lead to preparation of a bankable bridge project and to the mobilization of the funds needed for works construction.
The French cooperation agency provides support to the Joint Maintenance Service for Navigable Routes [Service commun d’entretien des voies navigables] (SCEVN) through a partnership with the Rouen Autonomous Port, which is contributing technical assistance, and through a subregional project in support of river transport in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Congo, to improve navigation security on the Congo River.
2.2.9. Electrical power
Supplying the country with electricity of sufficient quality and quantity that is affordable for the majority is a sizeable challenge to be met by the government. Electrical power is crucial to reactivating the economy and improving the welfare of urban and rural populations.
Steps taken to this end include setting up the Electricity Sector Regulatory Agency (ARSEL) on December 5, 2008, and the National Rural Electrification Agency (ANER) on December 30, 2008.
At end- 2008, 45 percent of urban dwellers and 5 percent of rural dwellers had access to electricity. Overall, the works currently under way should raise these rates to 60 percent and 15 percent, respectively, by 2011. Demand in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire could be met by 2010.
In addition, a sector strategy is now being prepared that takes into account the National Electricity Company (SNE) and includes plans for an in-depth restructuring.
With respect to producing electricity, new operations were launched in 2008 to sharply increase production by doubling the capacity of the Djéno power plant in Pointe-Noire, to 50 MW. Work has continued on the Imboulou dam to increase electricity production by 120MW, as well as on construction of the 300MW gas power plant at Pointe-Noire. Although the Brazzaville thermal station (32 MW) is coming on stream, it is limited to 12 MW for the time being owing to low capacity within the distribution grid. Operations here may cease once the Imboulou dam comes on stream, owing to the high cost per unit produced.
The main activities initiated in 2009 to improve power transmission relate to commencement of construction of the energy highway (Pointe-Noire-Owando), rehabilitation of the Pointe-Noire–Brazzaville line with repair of the Loudima, Mindouli, Mont Kamba, and Tchiélampo stations, and construction of the Ngo-Brazzaville and Ngo-Owando lines to transport current from Imboulou.
Concerning distribution, two tender calls were issued in early 2009 for rehabilitation and expansion of the Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire grids in order to improve the quality of electricity delivered to the consumer. In addition, implementation has begun on the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) energy project financed in part by the European Union, which provides for 9,000 low-cost connections in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.
In terms of rural electrification, three projects have been set up in Ntokou, Ngoko, and Loukolela, and plans call for electrifying 100 rural localities in 2009 as well as building 10 one to three MW micro-plants.
Project performance in the country’s interior is often jeopardized by delays in the receipt of shipments of materials, owing to the poor performance of the rail system.
In the area of telecommunications and NICTs, the main objective is to ensure least-cost access for the population to postal and telephone service, and to information and communications technologies.
Regulatory texts are being prepared on postal services, the electronic communications sector, and the establishment of a regulatory authority (Postal and Electronic Communications Regulatory Agency).
The national cyber-strategy policy paper is awaiting validation by the government.
The following physical targets have been achieved: 15 post offices in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire and the interior have been renovated, equipped, and staffed for regular operations; the Brazzaville postal checking system has been computerized, and an electronic tracking system has been set up for international mail at the Brazzaville main post office; two telephone exchanges have been purchased by SOTELCO for Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, and radio frequency surveillance and management equipment have been purchased by the regulatory authority.
Studies have been conducted for the repair of telephone systems in Mossendjo, Mbinda, Makabana, Mayoko, Owando, Boundji, Oyo and Mossaka, and the study on interconnection with undersea fiber optic cable is well advanced.
There are currently three private mobile telephone operators (Zain, MTN, and Warid) covering more than 90 percent of the country. The main Internet service providers in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, and Dolisie are Zain, ALINK Télécom, AMC telecom, and DRTV net. There are approximately 200 Internet cafes.
National media coverage was expanded with the installation of satellite receivers and TV/FM broadcasting equipment in the towns of Dolisie, Ouesso, Owando, and Oyo. The Nkombo National Radio and Television Center in Brazzaville is now operating and training has been provided to technical staff. The construction of the Oyo radio and television services building is ongoing.
In addition, an agreement has been signed with the French National Audiovisual Institute (INA) to train information and communications professionals and to transfer, restore, and preserve public audiovisual archives.
The overall objective of this sector is to facilitate the development of applied research in meteorology and in hydrography operations, to improve the population’s quality of life and security.
The country’s partnership with specialized agencies of the United Nations was strengthened in 2008 through participation in World Meteorological Organization activities.
A research and application center is in the process of being set up; a feasibility study has been performed and terms of reference for construction of the center were finalized in 2008.
Capacity-building in meteorology for staff of the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) took place through specialized training over a two- to three-month period in 2008.
2.2.12. Subregional integration
The goal is to contribute to regional integration and economic opening in Congo. In order to develop transportation within the country, the government has undertaken to promote the development of infrastructure for transport, communications, and opening up inaccessible areas.
Congo has stated its political will to establish mechanisms to encourage diversification of productive subsectors, private-sector development, an improved business climate within the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), and accelerated tax and customs reform to facilitate the circulation of people and goods in the subregion and beyond.
The Ministry of Economic Integration has carried out activities to involve Congo in the process of building a common economic space, including the review and adoption of CEMAC’s charter and by-laws, and the review and adoption of the budget and work plan, institutional framework and organization chart of the Secretariat of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC). Congo’s participation in African and regional integration has been assured.
2.3. PILLAR 3—Improving access to basic social services
Improving access to basic social services for Congo’s people is the Government’s second priority in implementing the poverty reduction strategy. The policy underpinning this third pillar of the PRSP is intended to allow equitable access to quality education for all and to improve living conditions for all.
2.3.1. Elementary and secondary education
Progress in this area is as follows:
Human capacity has been strengthened through the recruitment of 1,800 teachers in 2008. This effort, which began in 2006, accelerated in 2008 with the recruitment of new teachers and hiring of volunteers with adequate qualifications to teach. Sham positions were eliminated, and further action will be taken in this regard if needed.
With respect to equipment and infrastructure, 654 classrooms have been renovated; 111 administrative blocks, 25 administrative housing units, and 66 latrines have been built; 12,813 school desks have been purchased; and 706 desks, 861 chairs, and 562 cupboards have been made available to school offices.
Concerning textbooks, the directorates-general of elementary education and secondary education have purchased 12,400 primary school textbooks and 24,836 secondary school textbooks (including 18,973 for collèges and 5,863 for lycées) to benefit students. The National Institute for Teaching Research and Action (INRAP) has received 246,077 books, including 194,466 primary readers, 28,993 collège-level French books and 11,378 books on the physical sciences. Students have received 273,960 textbooks and teachers have been provided with 19,715 teaching guides for primary school and 268,828 for the first cycle of secondary school throughout the entire country, under the Support to Basic Education Project (PRAEBASE).
Improving sector management
The implementation of an educational management information system (SIGE) began with training sessions and a pilot survey in the department of Plateaux. Statisticians have been trained to oversee and manage the databases. Directors of studies and school planning have been trained to use ACCESS and SPSS software as part of SIGE implementation and school mapping. Over the longer term, the Plateaux department’s experience with implementing a school map will be replicated in the country’s remaining departments, using demographic data disaggregated by department.
Improving service quality and teaching conditions
Steps have been taken to provide continuing education for teachers, supply teachers with teaching guides, and provide financial resources to departmental directors in support of school operations, inspections, and departmental teaching guidelines.
Generally speaking, these actions and others implemented since 2006 as part of the implementation of the interim PRSP have had a significant impact on education. Several indicators improved over 2005. Gross primary school admission and schooling rates rose from 71.9 percent and 111 percent, respectively, in 2005, to 104 percent and 114 percent in 2008. The gross enrollment rate in the first cycle of secondary school rose from 61 percent in 2005 to 65 percent in 2008. Concerning efficacy indicators, rates for completion of primary and transition from primary to the first cycle of secondary school increased from 73 percent and 68 percent, respectively, in 2005, to 77 percent and 82 percent in 2008. Similarly, the completion and retention rates during the first cycle and transition from the first to the second cycle of secondary school increased from 20.8 percent, 60.4 percent, and 21 percent in 2005 to 43 percent, 76 percent, and 43 percent in 2008.
The World Bank’s support under PRAEBASE ended in 2008, and a new project is being planned to continue this effort.
2.3.2. Technical and vocational training
In 2008, the Government’s efforts in this area were oriented toward rehabilitation, construction, and equipment of infrastructure throughout the national territory. The following actions were undertaken: construction of the OCH technical school in Pointe-Noire, construction and equipping of the ENI in Brazzaville, and continued work on building the March 8 vocational school in Brazzaville (80 percent completed), construction of the civil engineering workshop at the February 5 technical school, construction of two health and welfare training and support centers (CEFAs) in Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville (to be completed in 2009), construction of the teaching clinic (90 percent completed), and rehabilitation and equipping of the CMI in Boundji. Studies for construction of the Mossaka fisheries school and the school for NICTs in Brazzaville are complete, and their construction will begin in 2009 and 2011, respectively.
The Ministry has completed a renovation of its premises and is close to completion on equipping its documentation and information center and building its conference room.
Plans also call for completing work under way and commencing construction of the LTA in Sibiti and the LAAC in Brazzaville, rehabilitation of the technical college in Makoua, and construction of CEFA boarding facilities in Botala and Gamboma.
The training programs are currently being updated. In addition, free public access to books is offered.
2.3.3. Higher education
Activities relating to the deconcentration of higher education have, at this stage of PRS implementation, related mainly to:
- preparation of the Higher Education Deconcentration Plan in Congo (SDES). The SDES, which is already in process administratively, is a policy paper on developing higher education in Congo that should lead to a programming law for the subsector in 2009;
- preparation of technical documentation for the Oyo agro-industrial upper school construction project. The feasibility studies required to commence the works are complete, and construction is expected to begin in 2010;
- preparation of construction plans for the project to reconfigure Marien Ngouabi University (Marien Ngouabi 1 and Marien Ngouabi 2), outlining the spatial placement of the various establishments to be built on the sites, has now begun. Works are expected to be initiated in 2009 with construction of buildings to house the Higher Institute of Management, the Faculty of Economics, a new amphitheatre, a university residence, and a large university library for the Marien Ngouabi 1 site.
Institutional and human capacity-building has entailed: construction of the social sciences and humanities documentation center, opening of a university cyber-space with support from the U.S. Embassy and the UNDP, inauguration and commissioning of the Francophone Digital Campus in Brazzaville, commencement of the second phase of the COSELEARN e-learning project on equipping the ENS multimedia room, and the recruitment of 61 teachers and 13 other staff. Although some teacher training and upgrading sessions and training for non-teaching staff have taken place under UNESCO’s Teacher Training Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA), further efforts are needed. In addition, renovations have begun on university housing and cafeterias.
Bringing diploma-granting programs into line with international standards with international standards has progressed through the introduction of LMD (Licence, Master’s, Doctorate) academic standards at the start of the 2007/2008 academic year at certain establishments within Marien Ngouabi University and the signing of Decree No. 2008-127 of June 23, 2008, governing private education. The related implementing provisions are in the process of being adopted.
Closing the gender gap at universities: In 2007/2008, there were 5,447 male and 2,388 female scholarship recipients (i.e. 30.45 percent female, of which 18.69 percent in the sciences) at post-secondary establishments. Scholarships abroad were held by 1,253 females versus 1,615 males, i.e. 43.69 percent females.
The instructional staff is only 11.48 percent women.
The overall sector objective is to ensure and improve the population’s state of health, particularly that of women and children, by implementing the National Health Development Plan (PNDS). This means strengthening the leadership, management, and operational capacities of a decentralized health care system; the rehabilitation, construction, and equipping of health care facilities; and improving access to a minimum health care services package (PESS) of quality; and improving mother and child health.
To this end, the Ministry of Health, Social Affairs, and the Family carried out an internal restructuring exercise in late 2008 and early 2009 pursuant to:
- Decree No. 2008-25 of December 31, 2008, establishing a service development program;
- Decree No. 2009-1 of January 12, 2009 on the organization of the Ministry;
- Decree No. 2009-2 of January 12, 2009 on the powers and organization of the Directorate-General of Health.
The new organizational structure should enable the Ministry to improve its effectiveness, particularly in terms of coordinating services and the external assistance provided by partners.
The question of human resource management has been addressed by creating a Human Resources Directorate.
Programs to rehabilitate, build and equip health care facilities are being carried out by the government, mainly in relation to:
- Continued rehabilitation of the University Hospital Center (CHU), which began under the Priority Action Program 2007-2009 with a total cost of CFAF 20 billion;
- Completion of rehabilitation of the National Public Health Laboratory and the National Public Health Center;
- In Brazzaville, completion of the rehabilitation and equipment of the Mpissa Hospital, continued construction of the Tsiémé Hospital, completion of modernization of the Pierre Mobengo Army Hospital, and continued renovation of the Blanche Gomez Hospital for Mothers and Children;
- In the country’s interior, rehabilitation of the Impfondo, Dolisie, and Owando Hospitals, modernization/construction of Pointe Noire health care facilities, and continued construction of the Oyo General Specialized Hospital (200 beds);
- construction and rehabilitation of health care facilities such as the comprehensive health care centers (CSIs) at PMAS and PMAE, and equipping them with biomedical waste disposal facilities and a supply of drinking water.
Under the heading of improving the quality of care, the following advances were made: revised flow charts for adults and children; preparation of standardized therapeutic protocols for basic hospitals, and preparation of reproductive health norms and procedures.
Access to health care for mothers, newborns, and children has been improved by the following measures: continuing education for health care personnel, dissemination in all jurisdictions of reproductive health guidelines and procedures, provision of basic equipment, medicines and basic and emergency obstetric care kits for the CSIs in PMAE. Malaria treatment is now provided free of charge to children up to age 15 and to expectant mothers.
In the category of combating disease, antimalaria measures have involved revising procedures governing access to marshland and the publication of related regulations, training of 360 health care officers to oversee cases of malaria and manage antimalaria medicines at CSIs, and the provision and distribution of antimalaria medicines. This has enabled 81.9 percent of operational CSIs to provide basic malaria treatment free of charge.
The long-term operation to distribute more than one million treated mosquito nets to expectant mothers continues in effect.
With respect to combating tuberculosis, a new updated manual has been validated and implemented. At the Eighth Round of the Global Fund, the proposal for category 2B admission will be approved. Analytic capacity has been strengthened through training in Cotonou for two laboratory technicians working in microscopy and rapid HIV screening.
Vaccinations: more than 90 percent of children under one year of age have been immunized against the main diseases under the Expanded Vaccination Program (PEV).
Under the heading of improving medicine availability, efforts have been made in connection with the Congo Essential Generic Drugs Agency (COMEG) by means of:
- Rehabilitation and additional equipment;
- Capacity-building in the form of training and hiring of two pharmacists (and another planned for 2009);
- Introduction of computerized management;
- Drafting of a management manual;
- Review of the list of generic drugs and needs assessment (with support from the World Health Organization).
Health care is a major international aid sector in Congo, as well as the sector with the best coordination of donor actions through the PNDS.
The National Health Care System Support Project (PASCOB) launched in September 2004 with funding of € 9,570,000 is aimed at improving the health status of the Congolese people so as to enable them better to participate in the country’s socioeconomic development. This European support, completed in 2008, made it possible to set up a purchasing center responsible for essential generic drugs procurement and supply hospitals and health care centers. The European Union-Congo cooperation strategy for the Tenth EDF provides for a budget of € 6.2 million in this area for the 2008–2013 period. Continued support for the pharmaceutical sector (through COMEG) is provided for, as well as the strengthening of human resources.
Congo has entered into a partnership with the World Bank for the Health Care Services Development Program (PDSS) established by Decree No. 2008-5 of December 31, 2008. This program is intended to help strengthen the health care system and improve population health, particularly that of women, children, and other vulnerable groups.
2.3.5. Water and sanitation
Improving access to safe drinking water is a major challenge for the government. The main objective is to improve access to drinking water and develop sanitation infrastructure. The decentralization policy adopted in Congo provides for a transfer of jurisdiction to local governments (Law No. 10-2003 of February 6, 2003). They are now responsible for specific mandates in connection with water. However, this transfer of jurisdiction faces problems such as widespread limitations in terms of human, material, and financial resources.
Notable progress was made in 2008, mainly in the drafting and publication of the following texts:
- Decree No. 2008-66 of April 3, 2008, approving the by-laws of the Water Sector Regulatory Authority (ARSE);
- Decree No. 2008-67 of April 3, 2008, setting out the organizational structure and workings of the Consultative Water Council;
- Decree No. 2008-85 of April 16, 2008, setting out terms and conditions for water production activities;
- Decree No. 2008-559 of November 28, 2008, approving the by-laws of the Water Sector Development Fund;
- Law No. 38-2008 of December 31, 2008, creating the National Rural Water Agency (ANHYR).
In addition, with respect to infrastructure rehabilitation and development, steps taken in 2008 and early 2009 include: laying the cornerstone for construction of a second water treatment plant for Brazzaville in Djiri; feasibility studies on rehabilitation and extension of potable water supply systems in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, financed by the African Water Facility (AWF); rehabilitation and expansion of water supply systems for the towns of Owando, Oyo, Mossaka, and Sibiti; placing an order for four desalination units for Brazzaville, completion of three boreholes at Pointe-Noire, and issuance of a call for tenders for 500 water points in rural areas (HIPC funds).
In 2009, the four desalination units will be installed in Brazzaville, new boreholes are planned for Pointe-Noire, and the 500 rural water points will be completed. In addition, studies on the Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire water distribution systems should lead to calls for tenders for related works. Water quality control will be the subject of another tender call to be launched in 2009 to set up a water quality laboratory.
In addition, a sector strategy is now being drawn up and will take into account a financial and technical restructuring program for the National Water Distribution Company (SNDE).
The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Partnership Project (WASH) to disseminate low-cost adapted solutions in urban, periurban and rural areas is being financed by UNICEF and implemented by NGOs under the oversight of the Directorate-General of Water Supply. Operations in 2008 led to the establishment of a solid waste collection and treatment system in Brazzaville.
Feasibility studies, financed by AWF and AFD, have been conducted for the rehabilitation and expansion of sanitary and storm sewers in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. Under the technical direction of the Directorate-General of Water Supply and General Hygiene, low-cost adapted sewer solutions have been disseminated in urban, periurban, and rural areas by the Regional Water and Sanitation Center (CREPA), UNICEF, and NGOs.
A donor round-table was organized on March 3, 2009, to mobilize funds for the project to rehabilitate and expand water and sanitation systems in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. On that occasion, a project funding and monitoring coordination platform was proposed by the government and the various development partners. Implementation of these projects will begin in 2009.
The government’s housing objective is to promote access to adequate living conditions and decent housing for the majority. Priority has been placed on building social housing in the major urban centers.
Actions taken in 2008 consist of continuing the priority program to build 10,000 social housing units. Since 2005, this program has been implemented under a public-private partnership between Congo’s Property Promotion and Management Company (SOPROGI) and the Chinese company WIETC on building sites in Brazzaville (Bacongo, Camp Clairon), Pointe-Noire (la Loya), Oyo, Kindamba, and Owando.
A new strategic partnership with the Government of China will be launched in 2009 to carry out the same program on the Mpila and August 15 Camp sites in Brazzaville.
2.3.7. Scientific research and technological innovation
Law No. 15-95 of September 5, 1995, which provided guidelines and programming for science and technology development, called for the establishment of three organizations. Only the Scientific and Technological Research Board was in operation until 2008, when the other two were established: the High Council on Science and Technology which held its first session on January 1, 2008) and the Interministerial Committee on Science and Technology (which held its first session on January 26, 2008). The Ministry also activated the Scientific Council on Research Centers. Several strategy papers have been prepared and await validation by the Cabinet. These include the national policy paper on science and technology development, the national science and technology development plan, and programs to mobilize scientific and technological research for economic and social development in the Republic of Congo.
Steps were taken to rehabilitate research centers and procure rolling stock and scientific equipment during 2008. A project to develop the National Herbarium is under way.
2.3.8. Culture and the arts
The law setting forth the direction for cultural policy was adopted by Parliament in December 2008 and covers essentially protecting the historical and cultural heritage, promoting cultural activities, and actions have been taken in this regard.
The roof of the Sainte Anne du Congo Cathedral has been repaired, and work to renovate the national library is nearing completion.
Performance spaces at the Center for Training and Research in the Dramatic Arts (CFRAD) and the Sony Labou Tansi Center have been renovated.
A feasibility study for the Pan-African Music Festival (FESPAM) Pavilion and Cultural Palace has been completed.
Work has also been done on the seven-year building plan for monuments, which are gradually being delivered to the government.
Priority actions for 2009 include initial application of the law on cultural policy, commencing construction on the FESPAM Pavilion and the Cultural Palace, and renovating the national museum and the national archives.
Implementing regulations for Law No. 11-2000 of July 31, 2000 on the organization and development of physical and sports activities have been drafted and transmitted to the SGG. The national sports policy paper is in the process of being drawn up.
Competitions have been organized at the departmental and national level. A national direct soccer championship has been created and will take place for the first time during the 2008/2009 season. Participation has been extended to international competitions through increased participation in competitions within the subregion. The national soccer teams have undergone training in France (boys) and Germany (girls).
In terms of infrastructure, the Dolisie and Owando stadiums have been completed and will be inaugurated in 2009. Construction has continued on the Oyo gymnasium. The Massamba Debah stadium was brought up to the standards set by the world soccer governing body (FIFA) with work on the roof, protection barriers, seat installation, building of a tunnel, and improvements to evacuation arrangements.
Training was provided locally for coaches in various disciplines, and training for referees continued within the African federations.
2.4. PILLAR 4—Social environment and the mainstreaming of vulnerable groups
The government’s policy on social environment and mainstreaming vulnerable groups gives priority to the following areas: improving working conditions, reversing the rising unemployment, reactivating existing social security funds, and expanding social coverage to the most vulnerable population groups.
2.4.1. Social protection
Progress on scheduled activities is as follows. Draft legislation instituting the social security system in the Republic of Congo and putting in place a regime to protect families and children in difficulty and to insure high-profile personalities has been transmitted to the Government.
The National Social Security Fund (CNSS) was provided with a board of directors that is now in operation. Draft legislation amending Law No. 004/86 of February 25, 1986 creating the CNSS is currently with the SGG. Also, draft legislation converting the Civil Service Pension Fund (CRF) to a public administrative agency with financial autonomy has been submitted to the SGG for review.
A computerization process is under way to modernize and improve social security and pension fund management.
An automated system has been installed to cover civil service retirements and regular pension payments by the CRF and CNSS.
Three new regimes (health insurance, persons living with disabilities, and students), computerization, and human and material capacity-building at the CRF and CNSS are scheduled for 2009.
Reform of the national solidarity sector is under way, beginning with the preparation of a preliminary draft of the legal framework, which has been submitted to government’s General Secretariat (SGG).
2.4.2. Employment and working conditions
Promoting employment and improving working conditions is a concern of the government. The aim is to draft and implement a national employment policy based on promoting employment in the private sector, developing vocational training, and promoting labor-intensive activities. Plans also call for improving the legislative and regulatory framework for employment, taking into account health and safety considerations for those working in the public and private sectors.
At the institutional level, the draft national employment policy paper prepared in collaboration with the International Labor Office (ILO) is currently being analyzed by the Government. A draft administrative order creating the National Committee for Social Dialogue has been submitted to the SGG for review.
New jobs created
The civil service as recruited roughly 25,000 new staff since 2005.
In the private sector, 10,000 jobs have been created in the industrial timber processing sector, 2,000 new jobs in various industrial subsectors, and 5,000 in the context of accelerated municipalization.
In addition, 17,000 offers of employment have been made possible through the revitalization of the private sector, all lines of activity taken together.
In the civil service, 58 positions in the health care sector were reserved for disabled persons in 2008.
Wage arrears to State employees have been regularly paid off in line with the government’s arrears payment plan, and retirement pension payments are up to date. The minimum wage was raised 2008 (Decree No. 2008-942 of December 31, 2008) from CFAF 40,370 to CFAF 50,400.
The labor code revision was deferred in 2008 since it is contingent on the revision of Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa labor legislation, which has been delayed. The revision will take place in 2009.
The overall objective in safeguarding children is to create a protective environment that will guarantee their survival, development, and well-being.
In 2008, Parliamentary Offices for Children were set up in every department in the Congo, in addition to the National Parliamentary Office in Brazzaville. The country also celebrated the Day of the African Child.
More than 40,000 birth certificates have been distributed free of charge, including 5,000 over the past ten months to Bantu and indigenous children not previously declared to the Civil Registry in the following departments: Pool, Pointe-Noire, Likouala, Niari, Cuvette, Plateaux, Sangha, and Kouilou. The birth certificates are delivered in packages together with treated mosquito nets and deworming products.
The provision of school kits to orphans and children from vulnerable families continued in 2008, with 2,133 kits distributed. The project to provide care to orphans and other vulnerable children was converted to a national scale, and 15,000 children were cared for.
The project to restore street children to their families, implemented in Pointe-Noire since 2007, was expanded to Brazzaville in 2008. This project returned 100 children to their families. Under the same heading, also in 2008, construction began on a nursery in Dolisie and two nurseries were opened for abandoned children in Brazzaville. To consolidate these efforts, a child protection code has been proposed and is in the process of being adopted by Parliament.
The main goal is to reduce the vulnerability of young people and move toward social and economic reintegration.
In the area of employment, 2005 statistics show that one of every three young people was unemployed. Of these, 37 percent were aged 20 to 24 and 27 percent aged 25 to 30. In other words, 64 percent of the unemployed belong to the 20 to 30 age bracket.
The government has designed and implemented specific employment promotion programs to address this situation: the Public Interest Youth Employment Program (DOJETIC), the Graduate Employment Program (PED), the Rural Employment Development Program (PADER) and the Self-Employment and Microenterprise Program (PAME). A commission was set up to draft a national policy paper on young people, which will shortly be validated at a national youth conference to be held in 2009. A related action plan is also available. In addition, the national policy paper on employment includes a special section on young people.
The African Youth Charter was signed by Congo in February 2008 but has not yet been ratified. Draft ratification legislation has been transmitted to the SGG. A conference discussion was organized with UNDP support around the African Youth Charter in 2008.
The implementing regulations for Law No. 9-2000 of July 31, 2000, providing guidelines on youth were also sent forward to the SGG in 2008.
Concerning health care, the Ministry of Health, Social Affairs, and the Family assisted 200 teenage mothers with gaining access to income-generating activities in 2008.
Three youth centers are currently under construction in Otsendé, Odibé, and Kindamba. A recreation center is already operating at Ouenzé (Brazzaville). Completion of construction on the three youth centers and rehabilitation of the recreation center at Djoué are scheduled for 2009.
In connection with the implementation of the protocol of agreement signed on December 3, 2008, between the Government of the Republic of Congo and the Commission of the African Union, a pilot project is under way on nonformal technical and vocational training and the reintegration of youth. It is benefiting 110 learners in the areas of NICTs, pork rearing, fish farming, garden farming, sewing, welding, hairdressing, and agricultural machine work. The program lasts for twelve months.
2.4.5. Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples, long held in disregard and left to their own devices, make up the most marginalized and vulnerable segment of the Congolese population.
A national plan for indigenous peoples covering the period 2009-2013 was prepared in 2008, and implementation began in 2009.
The Ministry of Health, Social Action, and the Family has held three workshops on planning to improve the quality of life for indigenous peoples in Impfondo, Ouesso, and Bélé (Gamboma). These workshops led to the preparation of a national action plan on indigenous peoples for the period 2009-2013.
Birth certificates were provided to 2,102 indigenous children in 2008. School kits were also distributed to indigenous children during the year.
A study on albinism is planned for 2009 to gain a better understanding of the plight of albinos and design a strategy to assist and provide care for them.
2.4.6. Special education
The overall objective is to improve access to schooling for handicapped children. Strategies include human, technical, and institutional capacity-building; access to quality education and adapted schooling, and mainstreaming into regular classrooms with or without an accompanying teaching aide or teacher.
A study on revitalizing the physical rehabilitation and orthopedic devices sector was conducted and the report validated in February 2009. In this regard, the Owando functional rehabilitation center reopened on April 6, 2008, and the tricycle manufacturing workshop at the Brazzaville national orthopedic devices center reopened on October 22, 2008.
As part of the continuing effort to mainstream handicapped children into the regular school system, six blind students were registered with the arts and human sciences faculty of Marien Ngouabi University. Also, a documentary film on the mainstreaming of blind children was made and has begun to be distributed.
Under the UNESCO-supported project to help train disabled young people and mainstream them into an active life in arts and crafts, 89 disabled young people, following an apprenticeship, placed established in trade with artisans in Brazzaville.
Positive discrimination in favor of the handicapped is applied at the Ministry of Health, Social Affairs, and the Family, where 10 percent of the budgeted positions are reserved for this group.
In the fight against HIV/AIDS, 25 peer educators were trained to work with associations of disabled people.
2.5. PILLAR 5—Combating HIV/AIDS
The Republic of Congo is strongly committed to the fight against AIDS in order to reduce the rate of new infections and provide the country with a strategy for prevention and care of those living with AIDS. The goal is to step up prevention at the community level, in the workplace and in health care situations; to improve overall care for infected and affected persons; to improve the supply and distribution of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) and consumables; to strengthen the epidemiological monitoring and surveillance system; and to strengthen partnerships with the public and private sectors and civil society. Noteworthy activities are described below.
Prevention of sexual transmission
(i) Prevention among the general population: the national communication strategy was designed with technical and financial support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank, taking into account the cultural dimension and gender. Two AIDS charity events were organized at Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, mobilizing in 28 days more than 61,250 people, 1,500 of whom were screened; two programs, Communities and AIDS and Stop AIDS, are broadcast weekly by DRTV and Télé Congo; and a partnership between the MTN Foundation, Serment Universel Association and the Permanent Executive Secretariat of the National Commission against AIDS (SEP/CNLS) led to the installation of a telephone help line on HIV/AIDS. The help line receives about 8,970 calls a day, and a total of 168,947 calls were answered and processed in 2008;
(ii) Sector response by non-health ministries (schools, universities, correctional facilities, and law enforcement): 735 peer teachers [young people trained to raise awareness among their peers] and 271 service providers in social communication were trained. In 2008, 47,695 people were reached by peer teaching activities and 61,413 by social communication, with 963 peer teachers and 485 service providers trained;
(iii) Distribution and sale of condoms: A total of 6,582,119 condoms were distributed or sold, 644,518 for men and 137,001 for women. There are 103 public, faith-based, and private centers offering information and voluntary HIV screenings throughout the country. The centers were visited by 72,191 people, of whom 63,460 were provided with preventive counseling (88 percent) and 62,063 tested, for a 98 percent acceptance rate. Those testing positive numbered 8,213;
(iv) Civil society response: 93 NGOs carried out community-based prevention work, reaching 70,826 people through peer teaching activities and 61,413 through social communication, with 963 peer teachers and 485 service providers trained;
(v) Treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs): There are 87 public, private, and faith-based centers offering treatment free of charge for STIs based on the syndrome approach. A total of 37,105 cases of STIs were treated free of charge in 2008;
(vi) Prevention of transmission through blood: All 35,350 units of blood donated for blood transfusions were tested for HIV and Hepatitis B in the course of 2008.
Improvements in care
(i) Medical care: There are 37 public, private, and faith-based centers providing medical care for people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the country. Active cases number 11,526, of whom 8,856 (76.8 percent) are taking ARVs.
(ii) Caring for orphans and other vulnerable children: In 2008, 15,895 orphans and other vulnerable children benefited from care (medical, educational, and other), and 859 guardians received support to engage in income-generating activities.
(iii) Prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child: There are 71 public, private, and faith-based organizations providing prevention counseling and voluntary testing for expectant mothers in prenatal consultations, and another 21 providing care for HIV-positive expectant mothers. A total of 33,759 expectant mothers were given prenatal care, of whom 29,398 received preventive counseling (87 percent) and 23,530 of those receiving counseling were tested, for an 80 percent acceptance rate. A total of 919 expectant mothers tested HIV-positive, and 350 are taking ARVs.
ARV approach and distribution
Following the interruption in supplies of drugs, reagents, and consumables in May and June 2008, major efforts were made by the government and partners to make available needed funds to procure pharmaceutical products in all departments.
In the fight against HIV/AIDS, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is the major donor. Funding is executed by SEP/CNLS. Under the AIDS component, the Global Fund allocated US$45 million to Congo for the period 2006-2011. The World Bank is the second largest donor with a major HIV/AIDS project initiated in 2004 (US$19 million), which aims to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS and strengthen support and care for the HIV-infected or affected.
UNICEF is active in the area of preventing mother-child transmission, caring for orphans and vulnerable children living with HIV, and prevention among young people. The UNFPA is working on HIV/AIDS prevention in the context of sexual and reproductive health care services. The WFP provides nutritional support for HIV/AIDS patients. The French Red Cross is carrying out a program to strengthen the two ambulatory treatment centers in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire to care for those living with HIV. The French cooperation agency is providing support for the fight against HIV/AIDS through technical assistance to SEP/CNLS.
3. Constraints and Outlook
The first year of PRSP implementation has highlighted a number of constraints, both endogenous and exogenous.
Weaknesses in human resources for administration
The weaknesses identified in multiple areas led to the introduction of a reform plan aimed at improving administrative performance. It is difficult to resolve the question of capacity-building in just one year. Many training sessions took place in 2008; others are scheduled for 2009 and beyond. In light of the foregoing, a national capacity-building in the economic and financial area has been prepared and is being implemented with support from development partners.
Problems with strategic planning
The current approach adopted by the government is marked by the need to establish sectoral strategies that are consistent with the pillars of the PRSP. The preparation of the OAP for the PRSP led to further reflection in this area. At this writing, only a few ministries have introduced strategies and determined policies in keeping with the PRSP. A work plan is in place to gradually cover the sectors not yet involved.
Problems with managing public investment
This mixed assessment of management is the outcome of a recent past characterized by both post-conflict and emergency situations resulting in poor management of public investment. A first step toward finding a solution has been taken with the adoption of the institutional architecture for the programming and management of public investment, which has been made more consistent with the initiation of the operational action plan for PRS implementation.
Formulation of sectoral projects
The situation varies by technical ministry, but overall, studies for sectoral projects remain few in number and the absence of such studies generally does not make it possible to determine their consistency with poverty reduction objectives and priorities or to assess their economic and social return, much less to set up monitoring and evaluation arrangements or measure project impact.
Public procurement execution
Most of the sectoral ministries experience problems with the disbursement of budget appropriations. With the reform of the expenditure chain, there is now a new dynamism in the area of project finance.
Moreover, the implementation of the new government procurement code generates genuine hope for streamlining project management.
Monitoring and evaluation
In the sectoral ministries, monitoring operations remain limited. Many research and planning directorates (DEPs) lack the material resources to fulfill this mandate and still lack all the technical information required to perform genuine project monitoring. At the Ministry of Planning and Territorial Development, evaluation missions are conducted twice a year and lead to the production of a report on the financial and physical execution of the projects and programs included in the investment budget.
The ongoing reform of DEP missions is consistent with the choice of strategy for improving the financial, technical, and physical management of investment projects.
One of the major constraints on revitalizing economic growth in Congo remains poor infrastructure for physical and intellectual communications. An underdeveloped road system (including rural tracks), delays in CFCO improvements and, perhaps to a lesser degree, river transport improvements, act as a brake on the development of the productive sectors, which still lack the infrastructure they need for their development. Opening up certain parts of the country, or at least improving their access to production areas, are crucial to improving the flows of persons and goods and will facilitate production and commercial activity. Rapidly bringing the transportation sector up to the required standard, and the provision of electricity and telecommunications services, remain key to the country’s development. The outlook for improving the provision of transportation services, new information and communications technologies, and water and electrical power are crucial to reducing factor costs and achieving satisfactory economic dynamism.
The effects of the financial crisis
The financial crisis that struck in late 2008 has had less of a direct impact on the economies of African countries than those in Europe. However, because of the decline in export consumption, several African countries felt the effects of the crisis fairly rapidly. This is the case of Congo and its exports of forest products.
Timber is the second largest revenue source after petroleum, and falling exports in the last quarter of 2008 pushed down activity and threatened jobs.
In the oil sector, the drop in prices from US$147 (at the peak in 2008) to less than $60 today is seriously jeopardizing the sector’s revenues. While there were no major direct consequences in respect of expenditure execution in 2008, this situation could have an impact in the future.
Toward the end of 2008 there were multiple consecutive instances of erosion caused by heavy rainfall. This required mobilizing emergency loans and disrupted expenditure execution at the end of the fiscal year. The country is facing a phenomenon of constant erosion that is interfering with the completion of transportation infrastructure.
3.2. Macroeconomic performance (2008-2009)
In 2009, the GDP growth rate in real terms will increase by about 7.2 percent as compared to 6.4 percent in 2008. This growth will be driven mainly by an acceleration of oil sector activity, which will rise by 14.9 percent thanks to the coming-on-stream of production from the Awa Paloukou and Ikalou fields by ENI, the Azurite fields by the Murphy firm, the return to normal production in the Nkossa field, and the increased power of the deep water Moho Blondo well. The forestry (growth and exploitation) branch will see production decline in particular as a result of the 40 percent drop in log output. The nonoil sector will experience 4 percent growth, propelled by sugar production, construction activity, telecommunications, ocean transport, and the continued implementation of macroeconomic and structural reforms.
Activity levels in these areas are projected to change as follows:
- Construction and public works will grow by 8.7 percent, as against 8.5 percent in 2008, with continued work on accelerated municipalization in the departments of Cuvette and Brazzaville, the construction of basic infrastructure (the Brazzaville-Kinkala and Obouya-Owando-Makoua roads), works at the Lékéti port, expansion of the Maya-Maya airport, etc.;
- Retail trade, and restaurants and hotels (7.5 percent as against 6.0 percent in 2008), in anticipation of holding the presidential election and the Pan-African Music Festival (FESPAM);
- Agriculture, livestock, hunting, and fisheries (6.8 percent as compared to 6.2 percent in 2008), with the implementation of the National Food Security Program (PNSA) and the diversification of Rural Development Projects (PRODER);
- Transportation and telecommunications (6.1 percent as compared to 6.8 percent in 2008), following the announced expansion of activities of the mobile telephone companies (Celtel, MTN, Warid) and the Congo Telecommunications Company (SOTELCO);
- Energy and water supply (1.3 percent as compared to 3.5 percent in 2008), with the construction of the gas power plant at Djeno and the second water supply plant at Djiri.
GDP would be valued at CFAF 3,614.3 billion as opposed to CFAF 4,435.7 billion in 2008, a decline of 22.7 percent in nominal terms. This decline is attributable primarily to the anticipated fall in the price of oil per barrel (averaging US$47.3 in 2009 compared to US$101.2 in 2008).
Real growth in 2009 will be driven by domestic demand, which will contribute 4.7 percentage points primarily as a result of strong consumption. Overall consumption would drive up growth by 3.2 points, 2.7 of which would be driven by private consumption and 0.5 by public consumption.
Gross investment will contribute 1.5 points, with the rise in capital expenditure and continued investment in the extractive industry sectors (maintenance of the level in the oil sector and recovery in the other mining sectors, in particular potash), telecommunications, transport, and agri-food industries.
Public investment is expected to provide 0.4 percentage point of growth, given the government’s demonstrated willingness to provide the country with basic infrastructure. Nonoil sector investment would contribute 0.3 point, mainly as a result of investments by the cellular and wired telecommunications companies, development of the autonomous port of Pointe-Noire, and in other food industries.
With respect to external demand, the decline in exports of oil and timber will have a negative impact on the current account balance, which will deteriorate considerably, from -1.7 percent of GDP in 2008 to -17.8 percent of GDP in 2009. Exports by value will plummet from CFAF 3,541.2 billion in 2008 to CFAF 2,244.7 billion in 2009, a drop of 64.0 percent resulting from the decline in the price per barrel of oil (down 63.0 percent) in CFA franc terms. Only exports of miscellaneous products and, to a lesser extent, sugar exports, will escape the depressive effect of the global economic recession. Overall, there is an increase in these exports in value terms from CFAF 71.3 billion to CFAF 78.2 billion for miscellaneous goods, and from CFAF 12.7 billion to CFAF 12.8 billion for sugar.
Despite the decline in revenue, imports will increase as a proportion of GDP, driven by imports of capital goods to supply the growth in investment in the mining, transport, and telecommunications sectors, and in construction and public works.
Lastly, the overall balance of payments surplus will shrink considerably to CFAF 277.1 billion in 2009 from CFAF 1,039.2 billion in 2008.
In terms of inflation, 2009 will be marked by a moderation of inflationary pressures owing mainly to the sharp reduction in imported inflation, despite the rise in domestic demand sustained by civil service pay reassessments. In this context, average annual inflation would be 4.0 percent, as compared to 6.0 percent in 2008.
With respect to public finance, fiscal revenue is estimated at CFAF 1,203 billion in 2009, down 51.1 percent from 2008 (CFAF 2,462 billion), with oil revenue having a share of CFAF 804 billion as opposed to CFAF 2,118 billion in 2008. In contrast, non-oil revenue will amount to CFAF 399 billion as compared to CFAF 344.4 billion in 2008, largely owing to the broadening of the tax base through the use of the UIN and the securitization of revenue through the continuing computerization of the tax and customs offices.
Fiscal expenditure would amount to CFAF 1,238 billion at end-2009 compared with CFAF 1,239 billion in 2008. The performance of expenditure will result primarily from a reduction in current expenditure (down 17.2 percent) and an increase in investment expenditure (up 15.9 percent), reflecting the government’s willingness to support economic activity by revitalizing public investment.
As regards public debt, changes in the external and fiscal accounts would be reflected in a deterioration of the solvency indicators (ratio of debt stock to GDP) of 76.8 percent in 2009, as opposed to 62.7 percent in 2008, while debt sustainability indicators should improve. With the expected debt restructuring, the ratio of debt service to fiscal revenue should be 5.7 percent in 2009 as opposed to 12.7 percent in 2008, and the ratio of debt service to exports should be 4.0 percent as opposed to 8.4 percent.
Finally, public financial management in 2009 would yield an overall surplus, on a commitments basis excluding grants, of CFAF 454.5 billion (5.8 percent of GDP) as compared to a surplus of CFAF 1,038.2 billion (4.3 percent of GDP) in 2008.
The government’s policy for 2009 targets the following objectives: (i) mobilizing domestic resources and allocating them optimally to the sectors that favor sustainable and job-creating growth, such as agriculture and livestock, forest exploitation, and SMEs/SMIs; (ii) constructing infrastructure to support economic activity; and (iii) continuing to execute and finance structuring investments with the support of development partners, within the framework of a sustainable indebtedness policy.
The main pillars guiding the structural reforms are as follows:
- Within the financial sector, the banking sector has been restructured within the context of the liberalization policy introduced by the government. This reform favored the introduction of new banking structures. To improve monetary policy and stabilize the financial sector, the government intends to continue finalizing the Development Action Plan for development of the sector with assistance from the IMF. Noteworthy among the other measures to be implemented at the national level are the actions intended to improve the business climate, the legal and accounting framework, and transparency and the quality of information available to the private sector. This government policy is supported by the creation of a National Financial Investigation Agency in order to bolster the arrangements for combating corruption, fraud, and embezzlement.
- With regard to governance and transparency, the government intends to continue its efforts on these two aspects in order to enable Congo to achieve stronger and more sustainable growth. To this end, the government will provide the anticorruption observatory with the financial resources it needs to enable it to carry out its activities effectively.
- Finally, the government is resolved to continue its progress toward activating the triggers for reaching the completion point under the HIPC Initiative, in the context of the Action Plan decided upon by mutual agreement with the IMF and the World Bank. To this end, it has undertaken to adopt measures aimed at improving tax receipts (broadening of the tax base through the permanent use of NIUs in the tax offices, securitization of revenue by continuing the computerization of tax offices, continuation of the policy of taxation near at hand, etc.), and improving customs receipts (optimization and simplification of customs clearance procedures, review of the customs privileges contained in government awards and contracts, elimination of exceptional exemptions, strengthening of efforts to combat smuggling, introduction of a one-stop shop at the Pointe-Noire port, etc.).
It its semiannual report on the World Economic Outlook published in April 2009, the IMF projected a decline in world growth of 1.3 percent at end-2009, as a result of the global recession ushered in by the financial crisis triggered in October 2007.
For 2010, as a result of the massive recovery plans initiated in the major industrial countries, the IMF anticipates a partial recovery with growth reaching 1.9 percent.
In respect of the general price level, global inflation would remain moderate with the correction of energy prices in the wake of the international financial crisis. After the export prices of Congo’s main export products (crude oil, raw logs, cut wood, and sugar) bottom out in 2008 and 2009, the prospects for future developments show a clear upward trend according to the April 2009 WEO. Thus, over the period under review, the prices of these products would be on average US$63.92/bbl for crude oil, US$256/m3 for raw logs, US$772.67/m3 for cut wood, and US 13.33 cents/lb for sugar.
3.3. Prospects for more effective implementation
Improvement in the monitoring and evaluation arrangements will be based on the restructuring of the national statistical system, which would make statistical data more readily available and, starting end-2009, the results of the general population and housing census and ongoing and future surveys will help refine the profile of poverty in Congo and measure initial changes. The implementation of a database of monitoring indicators, including the core indicators incorporated into the PRSP itself, but also including action indicators (resource and/or activity indicators) and indicators of specific objectives (indicators of results and/or impact), will make it possible to verify whether actions are proceeding as planned, whether the targeted results are being properly achieved, and whether they are having a real impact on the poverty level of the population.
Improving economic and financial governance
Improving oil sector management
This sector possesses the major triggers for achieving the completion point, and periodic reviews by the World Bank have pointed up some delays in the fulfillment of conditionality. An effort is being made to ensure that the audit of 2007 accounts is conducted under better conditions. Cost accounting should be implemented before the end of the first half of 2009. An action plan to improve practices in crude oil marketing by the SNPC should be completed in early 2009, and begin implementation following a final session of talks in London with support from the World Bank.
Improving the macroeconomic framing process and medium-term planning
A major effort is under way in 2009 to improve the macroeconomic framing process and develop a plan for medium-term spending. Substantial support in training and technical assistance has been provided with support from the World Bank and the French cooperation agency.
This effort will make it possible to put in place a macroeconomic framework process and tool as well as a central medium-term expenditure framework, under the responsibility of a team set up and operating as of June 2009.
At the sectoral level, the aim is to improve and/or develop sector strategies, priority action plans, and sectoral medium-term expenditure frameworks. For 2009, three pilot sectors have been selected: health, education, and transportation. Seven ministries will thus benefit from substantial support to improve their sectoral strategy papers and prepare their priority action plans and sectoral medium-term expenditure frameworks for the 2010-2012 period. This effort will be extended to the other sectors in 2010 and thereafter, so that all ministries have access to the same instruments.
Based on improved sectoral strategies that are consistent with the PRSP, priority action plans with indicators will be reflected in sectoral MTEFs, making for a far more rational budgeting process that includes both current and capital budgets.
In addition, this objectives-based programming will lend itself to monitoring by means of indicators and will promote accountability by the administration.
Improving the management of public finances
Through implementation of the PAGGFP (with regard to public finances overall) and the PAAGIP (for public investment), the government should accelerate public finance management reform.
The new public procurement code and related regulations will take effect in 2009. The new institutional framework established should lead to contracting and procurement practices that are more in line with generally accepted standards and improve their effectiveness.
The implementation of a computerized expenditure chain should begin in 2009. This software will require expenditure officers to follow procedures, once redefined, and will enhance transparency by allowing expenditures to be tracked and their progress monitored. This instrument will also make it possible to track the utilization of loans in real time at various stages: committed, verified, authorized, and paid.
Improving the management of public investment
Training personnel of the research and programming directorates (DEPs) who are key players in public investment management began at the end of 2007 and will continue into 2009 on issues specific to health and education, together with training on sectoral strategies and medium-term expenditure frameworks.
To remedy the shortcomings in respect of preliminary project studies, a study fund and a management unit for the fund will be set up in 2009 with technical assistance support. The aim will be to put in place procedures and the documentary framework for producing studies. In 2009, the fund will have access to a credit for CFAF 1 billion contributed by Congo and US$300,000 from the Transparency and Governance Capacity-Building Project. AFD has also set up a fund that can be drawn on to conduct studies. The government share will rise over the years to come.
Support will be provided beginning in the first half of 2009 to set up a streamlined project selection process. Procedures, decision trees, and related arrangements will be elaborated with technical assistance support.
Support will be provided in 2009 to the central level of MPAT and to sectoral ministries, as well as to departmental planning directorates, to strengthen their capacity in project evaluation.
♦ Stepping up the fight against corruption
The planned agencies–the National Commission Against Fraud and Corruption (CNLCFC) and the Anti-Corruption Observatory (OLC)–have been established.
The anti-corruption law is expected to proceed to a vote very soon. The report on the diagnostic study on governance is now available, and an action plan based on the report, currently being finalized, will be completed and approved by decree.
Both organizations now have tools to facilitate their role. It is still necessary to provide the appropriations needed to carry out their activities and ensure that all other oversight agencies build in the specific directives of the CNLCFC and OLC.
♦ Maintaining investment in basic infrastructure
Efforts in 2009 should lead to an improvement in traffic along the Pointe-Noire–Brazzaville corridor. A concession award for the Pointe-Noire port and scheduled upgrades will facilitate increased port traffic. The current rehabilitation of tracks and rolling stock, in combination with the corporate restructuring plan, will enable CFCO to improve traffic volume as of this year and offer better prospects for concessioning. The development of the RN1 highway (Brazzaville—Pointe-Noire) will offer an additional alternative.
In the north, the paved road system around RN2 will provide easy access to the towns of Makoua and Ouesso. The towns of Mossaka and Impfondo will benefit from improvements in the river system and rehabilitation of river transport equipment.
Improved coordination between the Ministry of Equipment and Public Works (METP) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAE) will facilitate upgrading the system of rural tracks in line with the agricultural development strategy.
Improving production capacity and rehabilitating the distribution grids for Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville should improve coverage of the country’s urban areas as of end-2009 and shortly meet the energy needs of the country’s two major cities.
♦ Intensifying investment in the agriculture and livestock sector
The National Food Security Program (PNSA) is to become the sector strategy, and an operational action plan will need to be prepared to implement it. An instrument that will impart genuine consistency to sector operations is needed. Meeting these conditions will make it possible to allocate greater funding to the Ministry.
Efforts will focus on several priority projects for which in-depth studies have been conducted. Emphasis will be placed on support sectors such as rural tracks, warehousing, processing and marketing, and facilitating access to credit. All of these activities should be integrated with the local development process under way to ensure greater effectiveness.
♦ Improving the availability of drinking water and improving sanitation
Priority needs to be given to increasing production capacity and rehabilitating distribution systems in the country’s two major cities.
In the area of rural waterworks, efforts will focus on drilling 500 boreholes against HIPC funding.
♦ Construction of social housing
Efforts will continue to complete the construction of 10,000 social housing units in partnership with China, mainly in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. These housing units should become available starting in late 2010.
♦ Allocating increased resources to the social sectors
Budget resources will be further increased in 2009 and enable the health and education sectors to meet the objectives they have set.
By adopting a poverty reduction strategy in March 2008, the Government of the Republic of Congo reaffirmed its intention to combat poverty and made this a priority for its economic and social development policy in the years to come. The sectoral policies and poverty reduction programs now under way, which were prepared in the context of PRSP implementation, stand as confirmation of that intention.
Having completed this interim evaluation exercise, the government can state that Congo’s macroeconomic framework has been strengthened, that the main indicators are moving in the right direction, and that major reforms have either been initiated or are nearing initiation.
Nevertheless, in order to meet the PRS objectives and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the government undertakes to take appropriate steps to meet the many challenges ahead, specifically:
- Strengthening the monitoring and evaluation framework for PRSP implementation;
- Promoting a participatory approach;
- Developing and improving sectoral poverty reduction policies;
- Accelerating the establishment of economic corridors associated with Congo’s status as a subregional transportation hub;
- Diversifying the economy to lessen the country’s vulnerability to external shocks;
- Promoting a dynamic private sector;
- Improving the quality and transparency of public finance management;
- Accelerating the process of decentralization and local development;
- Strengthening the administration’s operational capacity; and
- Promoting coordination among development partners.