Republic of Congo
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper

The government of the Republic of Congo launched a program aimed at consolidating peace and promoting economic and social development. The objectives included improvement of governance and consolidation of peace and security, promotion of growth and macroeconomic stability, improvement of public access to basic social services, improvement of the social environment, integration of disadvantaged groups, and combating HIV/AIDS. The review shows that much remains to be accomplished, and building on the significant gains of recent years, the decision to expand and strengthen the strategic poverty reduction framework was made.


The government of the Republic of Congo launched a program aimed at consolidating peace and promoting economic and social development. The objectives included improvement of governance and consolidation of peace and security, promotion of growth and macroeconomic stability, improvement of public access to basic social services, improvement of the social environment, integration of disadvantaged groups, and combating HIV/AIDS. The review shows that much remains to be accomplished, and building on the significant gains of recent years, the decision to expand and strengthen the strategic poverty reduction framework was made.

Chapter 1: Overview of the 2012-2016 DSCERP

Presentation of the 2012-2016 DSCERP

208. The 2012-2016 DSCERP. This Growth, Employment, and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (2012-2016 DSCERP) is the first book of Congo’s National Development Plan (NDP). It presents an integrated summary of the medium-term sectoral strategies and policies that Congo plans to implement to give substance to the President’s vision as explained in the “Future Path.” The principal objective of this vision is to accelerate society’s modernization and the country’s industrialization. The approach is to generate increased and shared prosperity in order to prepare for Congo’s emergence in the global economy.

209. The 2012-2016 DSCERP is also a new generation of Congo’s growth and poverty reduction strategy known by the acronym PRSP, the first edition of which was adopted in 2008. It was developed in the context of reaching the Completion Point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC-I) that Congo was supposed to facilitate by cancelling a significant portion of its external debt.

210. Despite the constraints at the time, the government spared no effort to ensure a participatory and consultative approach in developing this strategic framework. However, despite these efforts and limited by a very tight schedule for meeting the Completion Point requirements, this first edition of the PRSP encountered some difficulties in terms of adoption at the national level, which partially handicapped its realization (implementation, follow-up, and evaluation). The problem of adoption was most evident at two levels: (i) within the sectoral ministries; and (ii) in the budgetary process.

211. The first problem involves the adoption and recognition of the strategic framework and its priority programs by the principal stakeholders, particularly the sectoral ministries. In effect, based on the logic of “results-based management” to which the government is committed, the sectoral ministries are primarily responsible for the design, programming, budgeting, and execution of actions, and thus accountable for the results. However, despite a consensus-based approach, the limitations of the calendar on the one hand and limited capacities on the other contributed to weak involvement by the principal stakeholders in the preparation of the strategic framework and its PAP. In effect, at the time the PRSP1 was adopted, several ministries had not completed the process of validating their sectoral strategy and the programs that should have ensued therefrom. This failure was an obstacle to effective implementation of the strategy.

212. The second problem involves recognition of the strategic framework as the frame of reference for establishing national priorities and aligning the government’s budget with these priorities. The government has clearly espoused the PRSP as the consensus-based national strategic framework. However, despite significant progress made in strategic alignment of the budget since the introduction of the MTEF, the PRSP is still not given enough consideration in budgetary discussion, allocation, and forecasting processes. As indicated in the “public expenditure reviews” done with the Bretton Woods institutions: “budgetary allocations were not always consistent with the strategy’s priorities, which hampers the implementation of certain programs.”

213. After a straightforward review of these shortcomings, Congolese authorities resolved to strengthen the planning process to ensure that the sectoral ministries are fully responsible and the budget is strategically aligned so as to improve the effectiveness of government interventions. They took appropriate measures so that this second generation of the PRSP would be designed, prepared, and executed according to a strengthened participatory focus ensuring that “everyone is covered, everyone is involved, everyone is recognized, everyone counts, and all will have to be accountable.” These improvements are made intentionally and are among the attributes of the DSCERP summarized below.

214. The first substantive improvement is expansion of topics covered by the strategic framework compared to the first edition. The DSCERP is no longer limited to the traditional areas of poverty reduction such as the social sector or the economy itself. From now on it covers all the broad areas of government interest and intervention, particularly political, administrative, judicial, and security governance, productive sectors and integrated diversification strategies, infrastructures, and human resources.

215. In the planning and programming of actions, this complete coverage of the government’s principal missions/functions allows the DSCERP to take better account of sectoral interdependencies, complementarities, and synergies, enhancing the consistency of all actions and maximizing the effects of economic and social development.

216. For the budgetary process as well, taking all the broad areas of government intervention and thus the principal “cost centers” into account in the DSCERP presents a great advantage. It allows the government to make better trade-offs in budgetary choices based on the intersection of overall constraints on resources and the respective merits of the national strategy’s programs and priorities.

217. The second improvement involves the planning horizon. The DSCERP is broader in terms of the planning horizon (five years) compared to the PRSP1 (three years). The objective is to give the government and other stakeholders enough time to be better organized so that program implementation can be well sequenced over time, better synchronized among ministries and institutions within the administration, and more interactive in terms of the involvement of the public sector, private sector, and development partners.

218. This type of execution with improved coordination and follow-up is essential for improving the strategy’s chances of success. However, while the strategic framework establishes five-year goals, the DSCERP also includes three-year rolling program framework instruments for actions and budgets (the PAP and the MTEF). This combination of a more expansive planning horizon and strategic objectives defined over five years, targets set for three years and revised every year based on the realization of action plans and annual budgets offers better prospects for success in the implementation of the DSCERP.

219. “A common roadmap.” The third improvement is clearly the most decisive in terms of the chances of success for the Growth, Employment, and Poverty Reduction Strategy (SCERP). It involves operational documents supporting the DSCERP. In effect, besides the DSCERP itself (Book 1), the NDP also includes a sectoral programming document (Priority Action Plans - PAP) that is broken down into action programs for all the ministries. The PAP is used to prioritize actions and to ensure intra- and inter-sectoral consistency, as well as alignment with overall guidelines and strategic objectives. The NDP also includes a budgetary programming framework document (Medium-Term Expenditures Framework, MTEF), which is used to align the allocation of resources with the priorities of the strategy and the requirements of priority programs.

220. Full accountability of sectoral ministries. The fourth improvement involves the effort to prepare the DSCERP. To improve adoption, the DSCERP and its attached documents – particularly the priority action programs and program budgets – were prepared by the sectoral ministries themselves under the coordination of the central agencies (Planning and Budget) that ensured consistency based on an interactive and iterative process involving the sectoral ministries. This in-depth participatory approach orchestrated by the Plan made possible substantial contributions from all stakeholders in the preparation of the DSCERP. This made for a truly “integrated framework” that “brings together” sectoral policies and programs and “integrates” them in a coherent whole for pursuing the national objectives of growth, social development, and the emergence of Congo.

221. The 2012-2016 DSCERP, PAP, and MTEF. As indicated above, the DSCERP is accompanied by a set of attached “Books” that will be used to guide the programming, budgeting, and follow-up of actions carried out in upcoming years. The principal annexes include:

  • Priority Action Plan (BOOK2: PAP_2012-2016): It brings together the principal programs and action plans of the sectoral ministries for achieving the objectives of the strategy; the PAP is a summary of the sectoral PAPs, to which the ministries’ program budgets are attached (“Budgets by Program Objectives, BOP”);

  • A macroeconomic and budgetary framework for financing the strategy (Book 3: CMB-FS_2012-2016): It forecasts medium-term macroeconomic prospects (macro framework) and profiles the allocation of resources based on strategic objectives, areas of intervention, missions, and institutions (ministries and other government institutions) as well as financing methods;

  • An Institutional Framework for Following up the Execution and Performance of Priority Action Programs (BOOK4: SEP-PAP). This key document describes the institutional mechanism and the statistical and data processing tools to be set up to ensure the effective execution of programs, the follow-up of achievements, and the evaluation of impacts on the country’s economic and social development.

222. In summary, based on full sectoral coverage and its operational annexes, the DSCERP constitutes the core of the medium-term National Development Plan (“Comprehensive Development Framework”3) for the Congo. It provides an integrated framework of macroeconomic and sectoral strategies. It makes it possible both to organize the programming of actions and to align the government’s budget with the priorities of the strategy and effective follow-up of the execution of sectoral actions and budgets.

Why the 2012-2016 DSCERP?

223. Why is there a 2012-2016 DSCERP at this point in Congo’s history? The DSCERP is the “key product” of a far-reaching endeavor to strengthen the technical and institutional mechanism for strategic planning and economic management geared to development results. The government launched this program in 2008 with adoption of the PRSP. The program was intensified in 2009-2010, a period that marks an important turning point in the history of Congo’s recent economic governance, for both political and economic reasons.

224. In political terms, 2009 clearly marks the end of Congo’s difficult post-conflict period of transition to political stability and the “redeployment” of collective attention toward the country’s economic and social development. It is the year during which the government was able to turn its attention and its resources to the needs of social reconciliation and consolidation of the peace, as well as strengthened democracy and accelerated economic development.

In economic terms, it marks an important post-conflict transition from emergency management to requirements planning for Congo’s development.

225. This historic transition was marked – and made possible – by an important political event, namely the presidential election on July 12, 2009, which, in a very peaceful manner and with a significant majority, gave the President of the Republic a mandate for a new seven-year term. This event meant much more than a return to political stability. Firstly, it reflected the population’s satisfaction regarding the conduct of public affairs owing to the “New Hope” plan for society proposed by the President, candidate for his own succession in 2002. Next, it expressed the Congolese population’s acceptance of the President of the Republic’s vision for the country’s modernization and industrialization as advocated in the “Future Path”.

226. At the same time, the government is aware of the challenges of this new mandate, since it will be necessary, more than ever, to translate the promises of the “Future Path” into tangible achievements for the population and to promote Congo’s transition to economic emergence and shared prosperity. This is clearly a major political challenge, and the government’s response will determine the country’s medium- and long-term economic prospects.

227. In economic terms, in recent years Congo has undertaken significant reforms in economic and financial governance. On that basis, it benefited from a significant reduction of its debt in 2010, thanks to its having reached the Completion Point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC-I), and has reconnected with the international financial community on new terms.

228. From this perspective, debt relief is clearly the mark of a renewed “bond of trust” between the Congo and its Technical and Financial Partners, along with a substantial commitment of resources to assist the government in its development program. The funds thus released will complement domestic efforts and allow the government to intensify reforms and implement an ambitious program of structural investments, in order to diversify the economy, accelerate growth, create jobs, reduce poverty, and achieve the MDGs in 2015.

229. The 2012-2016 DSCERP and the sectoral PAPs represent important innovations for strengthened economic governance. Vigorous mobilization of domestic and foreign resources should help the government increase its budget margins so that it can cover the expenditures needed to support growth. However, achieving the targeted strategic objectives will require much more than a simple increase in the volume of resources. It will require a significant improvement in the effective use of resources and the quality of spending. For that reason, the Congo has a significant need for improved economic governance.

230. Well aware of this challenge, since 2008 the government has undertaken a far-reaching program to strengthen its technical governance capabilities. This program took the shape of several important efforts, particularly the implementation of the Action Plan for Improving Public Investment Management (PAAGIP); implementation of the Government Action Plan for Fiscal Management (PAGGFP), with strengthening of the system for following up government revenues and expenditures including installation of the Integrated Fiscal Revenue and Expenditures System (SIDERE); and reform of the government procurement process with creation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (ARMP).

231. With equal enthusiasm, the government has introduced significant innovations in economic management and strategic planning. Particularly since 2009, the government has implemented important reforms in the area of economic and financial management, including the adoption of a new Organic Law Establishing the Budget Law (LOLFP), and progress toward a system of Results-Based Management (RBM) in Development.

232. At the confluence of public finance reform and improved strategic planning, the government has adopted and introduced a Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) to guide budgetary policy. The MTEF establishes a “bridge” between planning and budgeting. It allows for better alignment of budgetary allocations and strategic priorities. Thus, the MTEF forces an important transition in budgetary culture and practice, moving from the paradigm of budgets of “means” (availability of resources) to the paradigm of budgets of “ends” (financial embodiment of strategic objectives), as clearly specified in the strategic framework. This “marriage” of the budget and the strategic plan makes these two tools the key instruments for pursuing the objective of increased and shared prosperity.

233. The 2012-2016 DSCERP: toward a culture of development and structured commitment to transform the “Congolese condition.” Transforming the Congo as indicated in the “Future Path” is not just a technical or financial matter of mobilizing resources or increased effectiveness in the use of those resources. Achieving such an ambition demands a new culture of leadership and government for development.

234. The government’s reform efforts and the favorable international environment have in fact already ranked Congo among about a dozen developing countries with the best performance over the last three years, particularly in the area of economic growth. This performance has been recognized and applauded by the international financial community.

235. However, this growth continues to be very volatile because it is highly dependent on petroleum resources, for which prices are extremely variable. This great volatility limits the beneficial effects of growth on poverty reduction and sustained improvement in household living conditions. For example, income poverty still affects more than one-third of the population in a country with abundant natural resources.

236. Nonetheless, it is very encouraging that good performance in the non-petroleum sector in recent years is apparently reflected in a sustained rate of private sector job creation (averaging 8% since 2008). Added to this is the effect that government spending has had in helping to significantly reduce unemployment. The results of the ECOM2 indicate that the unemployment rate has fallen considerably, from 19.4 percent in 2005 to 6.9 percent in 2011.4 Despite this performance, the employment problem persists in terms of numbers and quality, particularly with respect to young people between the ages of 15 and 29, the age group for which the unemployment rate (12% in 2011) continues to be twice the national average. In addition, despite encouraging progress made in recent years, the social sector still has significant weaknesses, most particularly in the areas of health, education, social protection, water, and sanitation.

237. The government performed a candid analysis of this mixed picture and has resolved to redouble its efforts and efficiency in strengthening achievements and meeting challenges. Although it is very encouraged by the sustained progress of recent years, the government recognizes that there is little room or tolerance for complacency, procrastination, and “business as usual.” On the contrary, it plans to inject a national sense of urgency along with collective awareness of the challenges and a national desire for rapid and sustained change to achieve Congo’s transformation. It plans to promote this enthusiasm and mobilize forces and national resources to transform Congo from a nation relying passively on the wealth of its subsoil to a nation that is prospering based on the quality of its governance, the productivity of its human resources, the creativity and entrepreneurship of its operators, and the diligence of its citizens.

238. To this end, the government plans to promote a new pro-development culture and leadership like that of countries that have successively made the transition to emergence over the last four decades (see Box 2). In effect, the experience of these countries shows that Congo needs leadership marked by several attributes: (i) “clear-sightedness” to better target and plan for the future, but also to adapt to unanticipated changes; (ii) “diligence” to carry out actions in a resolute and sustained way; and (iii) “perseverance” in efforts and actions to surmount obstacles and recover from setbacks, in order to achieve results.

239. Increased emphasis on diligence and results. It is in this spirit that the government adopted this new culture of “Results-Based Management in Development” (RBM-D) in which it wants to make the DSCERP the reference document for its interventions over the course of the period 2012-2016. This new approach in the management of public affairs is based on clearly identified and broadly shared objectives, well-defined and well-distributed missions and responsibilities, “missionaries/actors” well endowed with resources (“budgets based on program objectives”), and accountable in terms of performance (“Performance Contract”), and an institutional mechanism with the power to execute and “act as the policeman” for the government’s programs and actions in the area of follow-up and evaluation. This culture of “due diligence” has already been adopted at the highest levels of the administration (Office of the President of the Republic, cluster coordination within the government). It must spread from the top down to all government decision-makers and employees and must ultimately be emulated by private sector operators and the public in order to support success in the implementation of the national development strategy.

240. In summary, the government plans to combine efforts to mobilize and effectively use resources with a culture of vision and shared ambitions, sustained collective efforts, diligence, perseverance, and obsession with performance, in order to rally the entire administration, the public, private operators, and partners around an “Emerging Congo” project. The 2012-2016 DSCERP constitutes the common road map for this collective journey.

How the 2012-2016 DSCERP was Developed: Mechanism and Process

241. The government set up an institutional process to organize the preparation of the 2012-2016 DSCERP on a participatory basis and with particular emphasis on the contribution of the sectoral ministries, out of respect for the principle of subsidiarity. This process was supervised by a Steering Committee that guided, encouraged, and directed the work, and then validated the outcomes. It was supported by a technical mechanism that put together the documentation, organized the conduct of analytical studies, and coordinated thematic group discussions and the production of basic reports. It then prepared analyses and strategy documents, as well as sectoral programming and macroeconomic and budgetary framework papers.

The Institutional Mechanism

242. The preparation of the 2012-2016 DSCERP was coordinated by an institutional mechanism inherited from the preparation and follow-up of the PRSP-1. This mechanism was strengthened so as to allow for increased contributions from the sectoral ministries, development partners, the private sector, and civil society. This mechanism was formally established under Order No. 4838/MEPATI-CAB of June 30, 2010, on “creation of a Steering Committee,” a “Technical Secretariat,” and “Technical Units.”

243. The Steering Committee (SC). A policy group guiding the work, the SC is presided over by the Minister of the Economy, Planning, Land Reform, and Integration (MEPATI), who is the Coordinator for the “economic cluster.” The SC also includes representatives from the legislature, the private sector, and civil society. Throughout the process, the SC provided general guidelines. It reviewed the drafts of various documents and presented and defended them before government as a whole (government seminar and the Council of Ministers) as well as parliamentary groups, partners, and the public.

244. The Permanent Technical Secretariat (STP). The secretariat is coordinated by the General Director for Planning and Development (DGPD/MEPATI). The STP was responsible for coordinating the technical work, particularly the work of the Thematic Discussion and Editorial Groups, as well as the Technical Programming Units. In that capacity, it supervised the preparation of documents and the process of validation and dissemination of output. The STP was assisted by the Consultative Group made up of Technical and Financial Partners.

245. The Technical Support Unit. This is a task force set up to carry out the various components of the program to prepare and draft the DSCERP and the other books attached to it.

246. The GTDR/SGTDR (Thematic Discussion and Editorial Groups and Subgroups). These groups, divided into subgroups according to the sub-components of each theme, led the sectoral strategic discussions and prepared contributions for the chapters and sections of the DSCERP. The GTDRs were organized according to the broad themes (“nodes”) in the development of Congo, namely: (i) Governance; (ii) Economy; (iii) Infrastructure; (iv) Social Development and Inclusion; (v) Education, Training, and Scientific Research; (vi) Sustainable and Balanced Development. They had to prepare the status report and in-depth review of sectoral strategies and to suggest medium-term strategies for achieving the general and sectoral objectives of the DSCERP. They saw to the production of the basic documents (sectoral reports) that were used to draw up the DSCERP.

247. The Permanent Committee for Macroeconomic and Budgetary Framing Unit (CPCMB). This unit was organized into three sub-groups: (i) the macroeconomic and budgetary framework sub-group; (ii) the central MTEF sub-group; and (iii) the sectoral MTEF subgroup. The first two were in charge of strengthening the macroeconomic and budgetary programming tools, doing the work of macroeconomic simulation, and preparing the macroeconomic framework and the global MTEF for the DSCERP. The third sub-group was responsible for preparing the priority action plans (PAPs) consistent with the DSCERP and for preparing the Budgets by Program Objectives (BOP) for the ministries. These reports made it possible to produce the compendium of the strategy’s PAPs/MTEF for the period 2012-2016.

248. Technical support. A team of international consultants was hired to provide technical support for the work, with a view to capacity building.

The Process of Developing the DSCERP

249. The mechanism described below was used to drive a participatory and consultative process, in both technical and institutional terms, for developing the 2012-2016 DSCERP.

250. At the technical level. The work done to enhance the planning tools, starting with adoption of the PRSP, intensified in 2009 and 2010. This includes: (i) introducing the MTEF and its macroeconomic, budgetary, and sectoral components; (ii) parallel tasks initiated in 2010, particularly to strengthen the technical mechanism for physical and financial control of investments; and (iii) statistical follow-up of PRSP programs.

251. Besides the strengthening of tools, a series of analytical studies were done to define the overall strategic framework and the sectoral policies. This included in particular: (i) a forward-looking study (Congo Vision-2025) undertaken, on the basis of a participatory approach, to define more precisely the type of society to which the Congolese aspire; (ii) important sectoral studies, particularly on employment, the business climate, diversification/industrialization clusters, for developing integration strategies for the transformation of the economy in order to promote growth and job creation; (iii) the Congolese Household Survey (ECOM 2) to evaluate poverty and human development trends in Congo and provide correctives to the policies of the PRSP; (iv) Demographics and Health Survey (EDS2) to analyze performance and trends in the area of health and demographics; (v) the national report on progress made toward achievement of the MDGs; (vi) the report on implementation of the PRSP in 2009 and the PRSP completion report.

252. In institutional and political terms. As these different technical spheres were being developed, the government took steps to bring it all together in preparing the NDP. To this end, the MEPATI first prepared a “Rationale” to explain the justification for and functionalities expected from the NDP, which was presented to the Council of Ministers. The MEPATI then issued an order creating the mechanism and organizing the process for preparing the NDP as indicated above.

253. A detailed road map was then prepared. On this basis: (i) a seminar launching the NDP and the Forward-Looking Study was organized in March 2011; (ii) the seminar was followed by discussion and editing work by the GTDRs over the period from April to May 2011; (iii) the GTDR reports were compiled and merged according to broad themes by the Technical Secretariat (ST); (iv) these reports were revised and integrated in a preliminary draft of the DSCERP during an editing retreat (July 2011).

254. Based on this preliminary draft, the STP set up reviews to strengthen the sectoral strategies and make programs consistent within and across the broad themes. Various studies were also undertaken to further develop the strategies and action plans in the productive subsectors, particularly hydrocarbons, mines, forests, agriculture, and tourism. The results of these tasks and of the major studies (ECOM, EDS, etc.) were integrated in the document to develop a complete draft of the DSCERP (Draft 1, 30 October 2011), with its sectoral programming annexes (Book 2) and macroeconomic and budgetary framework (Book 3). A seminar was organized from October 15 to 22, 2011 to review the supporting works in order to incorporate them in the document.

255. Technical tasks were undertaken to take into account the government’s guidelines and stakeholders’ observations. A rereading seminar was organized by the Permanent Technical Secretariat for November 27-29, 2011, after which a final product was sent to the government for validation.

The Pillars of the 2012-2016 DSCERP

256. As stated above, the NDP is the operational framework for the “Future Path” for the seven-year period 2012-2016. Recall that the objective of the “Future Path” is to modernize and industrialize Congo to ensure increased and shared prosperity, and to raise the country to the rank of the emerging nations (See “Future Path,” 2009). This vision is broken down into three broad strategic lines that represent the areas of intervention or “mega-programs” of development.

The Mega-Programs of The “Future Path”

257. The 2012-2016 DSCERP is the operational framework for the “Future Path.” As shown in the diagram in Figure 2, the principal objective of the “Future Path” is to pursue increased and shared prosperity based on industrialization of the economy and modernization of Congolese society. This overall objective is broken down into broad categories of action programs targeting the respective sub-objectives of growth, competitiveness, and social inclusion.

258. The first category involves the “vectors” of growth. This refers to combined policies targeting the “productive sectors” (agriculture, forests, mines and hydrocarbons, tourism, etc.) to stimulate the transformation and densification of the economic fabric. The strategic sub-objective being pursued is to increase and maintain the pace of growth and job creation.

259. The second category includes the development strategies for the “factors” of production (infrastructure, human resources, financial resources, and business climate). These key factors determine the costs of production and thus the overall competitiveness of the economy, which in turn allows development of the vectors of growth described above.

260. The third category includes the “training and inclusion strategies” that affect the social sectors (education, health, gender, social protection, etc.). These strategies make it possible to improve the productivity of participants, facilitate their access to the factors of production, and improve their share in the distribution of income. In sum, these strategies strengthen the population’s capacity to contribute to economic development, on the one hand, increase its relative ability to profit from the fruits of growth in terms of increased income and improved living conditions, on the other. This bloc thus constitutes the two-way “conveyor belt” between economic growth and social development. It is the engine of shared prosperity.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Congo, The Three Pillars Of Emergence

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2012, 242; 10.5089/9781475505986.002.A001

The Pillars of the 2012-2016 DSCERP

261. The broad areas of intervention called “pillars” were already the essence of the “Strategic Themes” of the PRSP1, specifically governance, economic growth, and social development. They continue to be major challenges that together constitute the “nodes” of Congo’s development and emergence.

262. The first pillar, governance, determines success on all the other fronts. It means governance in all its dimensions – political, judicial, administrative, security-related, and economic. The principal objective of this pillar is to strengthen participatory and inclusive democracy and to promote the rule of law and peace to which Congo aspires. The strategies in this area take into account political and administrative organization and management, defense and security, as well as the judicial system. They also involve economic and financial governance, on the basis of which the government can improve the quality and effectiveness of its interventions, in order to promote shared prosperity – growth and social development – as the most effective means of ensuring national harmony and long-term peace.

263. The second pillar refers to the transformation of the economy. The principal objective is to intensify economic activities in order to accelerate growth and promote job creation. This pillar incorporates diversification strategies targeting the vectors of production. It also includes the cross-cutting strategies of “soft” competitiveness, particularly macroeconomic policies, structural reforms, and commercial strategies for the opening of national, regional, and global markets, creating an environment favorable to investment and growth. These strategies are based on major reforms that “open up” economic opportunity and make it more competitive due to increased competition (effects of competition) and induced rationalization of the structures and capacities of production (economies of scale).

264. The third pillar refers to the development of economic and social infrastructures. This is the “hard core” of the modernization of society and improved competitiveness. It involves (soft) reform programs and (hard) investment programs that seek to provide for the physical (transportation) or virtual (telecommunications) connection of the economic area, as well to connect operators to domestic markets, the regional economy, and the global economy. These strategies make it possible to reduce transaction costs and thus increase competitiveness (external economies). Moreover, they provide essential productive and social services to population groups. In this sense, strengthening infrastructure services (particularly transportation, energy, water) also contributes to socio-economic “training” strategies, which increase the population’s participation in growth and in the sharing of its benefits.

265. The fourth pillar refers to social development. It seeks to strengthen and develop human resources, as well as to improve the ability of groups, including the most vulnerable groups, to contribute to growth and profit from it. It involves programs dealing with education, health, social protection, and vulnerable groups (gender, children, youth, the elderly, etc.). These programs seek to strengthen the productive capacities of population groups, to reduce their vulnerability, and to strengthen solidarity and social security. In turn, structured solidarity and shared prosperity make it possible to better cement the body social, to avoid tensions and conflicts born of gross disparities and marginalization, promoting the genesis of a strong pro-growth national consensus and helping to accelerate the pace and maintain the sustainability of achievements.

266. The fifth pillar refers to various dimensions of “balanced” development that is sustainable and thus enduring. The strategies are subdivided into two sub-groups. The first sub-group seeks to better “balance” development in the country’s different departments and between urban and rural areas. The objective is still inclusion: to ensure that no department or population group is “left out.” The programs include decentralization, territorial development, accelerated municipal development, and local development. Added to these are rural and urban development programs, as well as policies targeting “pockets” of marginalization and poverty (urban slums, disadvantaged areas in the provinces). These strategies make it possible to even out the status of various populations throughout the country and allow them to adopt development programs better, contribute to them effectively, and benefit from them. This sub-group thus constitutes the basis for adoption of the NDP by all population groups.

267. The second sub-group in this pillar brings together the medium- and long-term “sustainability” strategies. The objective is to preserve the country’s natural riches while developing them on a sustainable basis for the long-term and greater well-being of the population. These programs include environmental protection, sanitation, and combating global warming.

The Pillars of The DSCERP and The “Nodes” of Africa’s Emergence

268. A World Bank study examined in depth “how Africa can claim its just place in the 21st century”5 and overcome the challenge of development. The main conclusion is that a confluence of factors – particularly poor governance and conflicts, weak human capital, limited competitiveness and diversification of economies, as well as the problems of indebtedness – constituted a chain of “vicious and interconnected circles.” This chain “linking” countries in stagnant growth perpetuates poverty and prevents populations and countries from benefiting from globalization.

269. As a corollary, Africa’s emergence requires integrated strategies as well as coordinated and simultaneous actions on these specific fronts in each country in order to convert the chain of “vicious circles” into “virtuous circles” and thus provide the catalyst for development. In summary, countries must focus “their development efforts on four groups of problems, leading to important cumulative interactions,” in particular: (i) improving the management of public affairs (good governance) and preventing conflicts; (ii) investing in human capital (education, health, etc.); (iii) improving the competitiveness and diversification of their economies; (iv) reducing their indebtedness and dependence on aid, as well as strengthening partnerships at both the global and departmental level.

270. Regardless of the endogenous causes for under-development and poverty presented and illustrated in Figure 2, it should, nonetheless, be stipulated that some of the causes of this under-development and the resulting poverty are based on the marginalization of Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa in particular, with respect to the general process of globalization. The characteristics of this marginalization include unfair terms of trade and the flooding of these markets by products subsidized by the so-called developed, or emerging, economies. This situation often condemns entire subsectors because the prices for these subsidized imported products are lower than the cost of production. This is true of the livestock sector.

Figure 2.
Figure 2.

The Development Nodes Of Congo And Africa

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2012, 242; 10.5089/9781475505986.002.A001

271. Efforts to overcome these exogenous constraints on development and poverty reduction should be undertaken at the supranational level, in continental or regional circles, in order to defend the continent’s position within large international organizations.

272. With some minor variations, the pillars of the Congo’s DSCERP are clearly the “links” in the chain of factors leading to impoverishment or development that were identified in the aforementioned study. In the case of Congo, the relevance of this configuration of “development themes” is reinforced by concern over converting the very organization of government into decision-making “hubs.” In effect, the missions of the ministries are grouped together under collaboration and decision “hubs” including “political governance,” “economy,” “infrastructure,” and “social sectors.” This was the underlying administrative organization of the structure of the PRSP1. It was also used effectively to organize the GTDR for preparation of the 2012-2016 DSCERP. It will facilitate both the effective implementation and follow-up of programs.

Implications for The Alignment of DSCERP Policies

273. The aforementioned study clearly emphasizes that the interdependencies and interactions among the different links in the chain involve “integrated strategies and coordinated and simultaneous actions on all fronts.” In other words, none of the pillars can be set aside without hampering progress at other levels and thus the strategy as a whole. For example, no progress can be made toward participatory democracy or in diversifying and modernizing the economy if the social sector is neglected, because the weakness of human resources (lack of education) represents an obstacle to democratization (weak participation in the political process) as well as to diversification (limited ability to absorb technologies and limited labor productivity). Similarly, “governance” cannot be sacrificed to benefit other factors because poor governance also means poor-quality policies, ineffective implementation of programs, and exorbitant costs that limit budgetary resources to such an extent that the development of the other pillars cannot be accommodated on a financially sustainable basis.

274. It is this cumulative awareness of the interactions among the pillars of development that led the Congolese government to expand the strategic framework of the traditional PRSP to create a complete and integrated framework of development in all its dimensions, meaning a truly national plan. In practice, the interdependence of these pillars also means that none of these strategic areas can be neglected and sidelined or left behind for long without limiting the other areas and impeding the success of the strategy as a whole. Thus, there is absolutely no question of “priority sectors.” Rather, there must be simultaneous actions with optimal synchronization of programs and effective “sequencing” of actions. In such a process, budgetary programming around the MTEF will prove to be decisive. The DSCERP and its operational components are thus well-designed and structured to help the government lead the battle against poverty and support emergence on all fronts.

The Structure of the 2012-2016 DSCERP

275. The document is organized in three large sections and each section is organized around the “nodes” indicated above. The first section (“How is Congo doing?”) reports on the status of each of the broad areas, specifically governance (Chapter 2), growth and employment (Chapter 3), infrastructure (Chapter 4), social development, poverty, and the other Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (Chapter 5). These analyses provide a brief historic overview for each area. They then present Congo’s recent performance, particularly since adoption of the PRSP1. They conclude with a list of the principal obstacles to be removed in order to improve performance and accelerate the pursuit of the strategic objectives.

276. The second section is the most detailed of the document. It addresses the central question, namely: Where does Congo want to be in 2016 (Vision and broad strategic targets)? What needs to be done over the next five years to lead Congo toward the realization of this vision (Action programs)? Specifically, Chapter 6 deals with the long-term vision as expressed in the “Future Path.” It provides the bridge between this vision with its underlying “framework programs” and the medium-term objectives specified in the different pillars of the DSCERP.

277. Strategies, major programs, and key actions are described in Chapters 7 to 15. Specifically, Chapter 7 reviews the challenges in the area of governance. It specifies the medium-term objectives and describes the strategies and programs for strengthening governance in political as well as legal and economic terms. Chapters 8 to 11 address the objectives, strategies, and programs that should improve competitiveness and stimulate the diversification of the economy with a view to accelerating growth and creating jobs.

278. Chapter 8 in particular deals with the “vectors” of growth. It proposes a group of sectors of activity (“clusters”) that, based on integrated and targeted strategies, should lead to industrialization and produce sustained growth. The clusters examined in detail include (i) mines and hydrocarbons; (ii) agriculture and the agroindustry chain; (iii) forests and timber industries; (iv) construction and building materials; (v) tourism and hotels; and (vi) financial services. In each case, the analysis briefly presents the cluster’s products and key actors, as well as supporting activities. It discusses Congo’s competitive advantages in terms of the national, regional, or international market and goes on to describe key programs and projects for development of the cluster as well as prospects in terms of the contribution to growth, employment, and government revenues.

279. Chapters 9 to 13 deal with the principal “factors” of economic growth and social inclusion. In particular, Chapter 9 describes the major strategies and programs for strengthening private sector participants, making economic opportunities more competitive and attractive to business (reducing risks and transaction costs), and expanding markets (commercial and regional integration policies). Chapter 10 deals with employment both in terms of supply (sectors of production) and demand (basic training and skills training) and the labor market (wage and benefit policies, selective immigration strategies). Chapter 11 deals with another key factor of production and competitiveness: infrastructure. It analyzes the major strategies and programs – structural reforms and investments – in the development of transportation, energy, water, and telecommunications.

280. Chapters 12 and 13 address development of the social sector, which is crucial both for sustaining growth and for ensuring that population groups participate in that growth and share in its fruits. Chapter 12 describes key strategies, programs, and projects in the education sector. Chapter 13 considers the health sector, HIV/AIDS, and social protection. The sections on gender and vulnerable groups address other important questions related to training and inclusion.

281. Finally, Chapter 14 deals with questions of balanced development. The initial sections cover the strategies of decentralization, accelerated municipal development, local development, and territorial development. The final section describes the challenges and details the strategies and major programs for protecting the environment and combating global warming.

282. The third part of the document deals with the question of “How is this to be done?” Chapters 15 and 16 in particular analyze the important questions of costs and financing for the strategy. Chapter 15, on the “macroeconomic and budgetary framework,” describes the macroeconomic prospects consistent with the strategy, taking into account the growth effects of major sectoral programs. It then proposes a strategic budgetary framework (Global MTEF) to align resource allocations and sectoral priorities. It then highlights the financing requirements (government portion) for the strategy as a whole. Chapter 16 outlines the financial strategies for the entire DSCERP in terms of both the government’s budget and private resources. It suggests some innovations in this area, particularly public-private partnerships for financing economic infrastructures.

283. Chapter 17 deals with the institutional and technical organization for implementing actions, monitoring achievements, and evaluating effects. The initial section discusses the institutional arrangements and tools needed to monitor program performance and the implications for strengthening the capacities of the administrative structures concerned, particularly the General Large-Scale Projects Commission (DGGT), the coordinating structures within the plan, and the sectoral ministries. The second section deals with the statistical mechanism and system for following up and evaluating the strategy’s programs, and the implications for strengthening the capacities of the structures concerned, particularly the Statistics Directorate and the Planning Directorate.

284. The document also contains a set of illustrations that are intended to raise all stakeholders’ awareness of the importance of the policy areas considered and the relevance of the Congolese government’s strategies in each area, in terms of the experience of “high-performance” or “emerging” countries. The data used for the figures and tables are official Congolese statistics or based on World Bank data (World Bank databank, 2011).

285. Attached to this summary document are detailed operational books organized or grouped according to the “nodes.” This means: (i) a PAP (Book 2) that summarizes the programs and actions of ministries and institutions, as well as program budgets for these institutions; (ii) a complete macroeconomic and budgetary framework document (Book 3), explaining in detail how the macro framework and the comprehensive MTEF were determined and indicating how the strategic objectives – growth, employment, poverty reduction, and social development – could be achieved if the strategy as a whole is well-executed; (iii) an important document on organizing the follow-up of execution and evaluating DSCERP program performance (Book 4).

Part One: How is Congo Doing?

Chapter 2: Governance

286. Governance in all its dimensions – political, administrative, judicial, economic and financial, security and national defense – constitutes the foundation of economic and social development. It contributes to poverty reduction, sustainable human development, and the emergence of nations. In effect, poor governance, whether in the organization and exercise of power (political governance), in the management of common resources and the provision of public goods and services (economic and administrative governance), in the application of laws and protection of rights (judicial governance), or in the use of government defense and security forces (security and national defense governance) is the principal cause of the persistence or growth of extreme poverty, inequities, exclusion, and socioeconomic marginalization. In other words, the combination of poor governance and socioeconomic marginalization are at the core of a tangle of vicious circles that often generate conflicts.

287. In economic and administrative management in particular, poor governance is the source of governmental dysfunction, of poor allocation and misuse of public funds, of deterioration in the quality of public services, and of ineffectiveness in the interventions of government. It also causes significant slippages due to the poor quality of macroeconomic policies, leading to instability. It is the source of weak growth, extreme indebtedness, or inflation, which stifle the economy and impoverish households. All these factors are unfavorable to growth and poverty reduction.

288. The history of Congo, like that of many other countries, particularly in Africa, clearly shows that there is no greater cause for the impoverishment of populations and the regression of countries than conflicts, in both economic and humanitarian and social terms. It follows that poor governance is the principal factor in economic and social regression or stagnation, and thus the greatest obstacle to development.

289. These developments are analyzed in the following sections, according to the different sub-areas of governance, from political to judicial to economic governance. The strategies for strengthening governance in these sub-areas are examined in detail in the third part of the document.

Political Governance: Advances in Democracy and Consolidation of The Peace

290. Political governance is defined as the set of methods used to determine and operate the political system, the appropriations system, and the exercise of political power. The principal objective for Congo is the emergence of a modern, inclusive, and participatory democracy that guarantees institutional stability, under the rule of law, liberty, and peace.

291. It follows that good practices in the area of political governance are defined by the representativeness of those in government, which in turn depends on how they are selected (electoral process and other method of appointing leaders), the participation of the governed in the political process and their influence on the objectives, methods, and results of political action. Governance thus results from the credibility of the electoral system, from how powers are distributed, and from balance in the exercise of powers, as well as from respect for laws, rights, and liberties. Hence the famous Jeffersonian phrase extolling a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Historic Overview

292. Like most African nations, Congo has confronted the thorny issue of political governance since it gained national sovereignty on August 15, 1960. In effect, since independence, Congo has gone through a period marked by numerous tumultuous events leading to a succession of political regimes. These changes were based on ethnocentrism, recurring violence, and ceaseless and renewed instability. A period of relative stability fostered the restoration of a multi-party system and pluralist democracy.

Important Achievements in Recent Years

293. Despite the legacy of habits inherited from the past, the implementation of governance programs has been significantly improved, as these programs have made it possible, among other things, to:

- Resume the democratic process and accelerate the establishment of constitutional institutions;

- Further develop the democratic and decentralization process;

- Effectively finance political parties from the government’s budget;

- Establish a program to promote and protect indigenous populations.

294. Despite the restoration of political stability, perception indicators in the area of good governance are still low and fall far short of expectations, in that the country is still at the bottom of the scale (in the bottom quintile) in terms of the perception of the rule of law and its rating has even deteriorated slightly in the area of combating corruption.

295. These programs are also reflected in a perceptible improvement in international indicators of political governance in Congo, although major challenges remain in other aspects. Figure 4 shows the progression of international governance indicators. Congo appears to have made notable progress in the area of “political stability” between 2000 and 2010, with its rating increasing from 10 to 35 out of 100 according to the international classification of the World Bank. By comparison, the countries of sub-Saharan Africa have seen little change in this criterion over the same period, although the average rank remains higher than that of Congo.

Figure 3.
Figure 3.

Congo In International Competition – Governance

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2012, 242; 10.5089/9781475505986.002.A001

Source: STP/World Bank, Governance Indicator

296. Resumption of the democratic process, which had been interrupted by the conflicts of the late 1990s, and the establishment of institutions in accordance with the Constitution of 2002 have allowed for significant improvement in the political situation by strengthening democratic culture and governance within the framework of the PRSP. The recent organization of the latest elections (legislative in 2007, local in 2008, presidential in 2009, and senatorial in 2011) is a perfect example of this. To consolidate these achievements, consultations among the political authorities were organized prior to the upcoming elections in December 2011 in Ewo (West Cuvette).

The Main Challenges to be Addressed

297. Although significant progress has been made in promoting good political practices, individual liberties, and the independence of the media, the government should take the following actions, among others, to further consolidate social peace:

  • - Improve social and inclusion policies, particularly through transparency, impartiality, accountability, and combating public sector corruption, as well as political practices (financing of political parties, electoral campaigns, etc.);

  • - Strengthen gender policies to improve the political and administrative representation of women in society.

Administrative and Judicial Governance

Administrative governance

Historic Overview

298. Governance in Congo is a long-standing issue dating back to when it first took charge of its own destiny with the proclamation of the republic on November 28, 1958. This culminated with independence on August 15, 1960, when the colonial administration made way for the Congolese administration. Since that time, it has not ceased to be the focus of concern for constitutional regimes characterized by institutional instability (18 constitutions – from independence to 2002). This cyclical movement was summarized as follows in an assessment of the record of the fifty years that had passed since independence: “construction, destruction, and reconstruction.” Thus, as of now there is no framework capable of serving as a basis from which the dynamics of development could be successfully launched. Instead we find “institutional duplication of effort, an overload of laws and regulations, an overgrowth of projects and programs that still fail to reflect previously defined strategies, endless diagnostic assessments, and cumulative problems.” This has meant that there is still no effective social organization in the service of development.

Achievements in Recent Years

299. After the conflicts that marked the 1990s, the fabric of national administration is considerably weakened as are the values associated with respect for public affairs. This is reflected in deterioration in the quality of public services and the population’s access to them. However, as a result of the reforms undertaken, the country has made significant progress, particularly in terms of increased personnel and resources allocated to civil service, reorganization of the government in coordinating hubs to improve the sectoral coherence of programs and actions, the establishment of agencies to combat corruption, and increased staff capabilities in local governments.

The Main Challenges to be Addressed

300. Despite these efforts, government administration continues to present significant areas of dysfunction that affect its effectiveness, particularly (i) anachronistic laws and legislation for government personnel and the social protection system; (ii) ill-suited missions, structures, positions, staff, and resources; (iii) difficulties controlling civil servants as well as the payroll; (iv) the absence of an attractive compensation policy to encourage effectiveness; (v) aging government personnel and an obsolescent system for tracking civil service careers.

Judicial Governance

Historic Overview

301. Since Congo gained independence, Congolese courts have been governed by two systems of justice, one based on custom and the other based on French law. The Congolese legislature has attempted to unify these systems by enacting laws and codes, including:

  • - Law No. 18-60 of January 16, 1960 on protecting youth;

  • - Law No. 35-61 of June 20, 1961 on the nationality code;

  • - Law No. 1-63 of January 13, 1963 on the criminal procedure code;

  • - Law No. 5/63 of January 13, 1963 on looting and destruction;

  • - Ordinance No. 25/70 of August 1, 1970 on regulating the conditions under which convicted foreigners may remain in the Popular Republic of Congo;

  • - Highway code (Order No. 4223 TP-AP on the application of Decree of October 4, 1932 governing automobile traffic and road traffic in French Equatorial Africa);

  • - Law No. 45-75 of March 15, 1975 instituting the labor code in the Popular Republic of Congo;

  • - Law No. 51-83 of April 21, 1983 on the code of civil, commercial, administrative, and financial procedure;

  • - Law No. 073/84 of October 17, 1984 on the family code;

  • - Law No. 022-92 of August 20, 1992 on organization of the judicial branch in the Republic of Congo;

  • - Law No. 19-99 of August 15, 1999 amending and adding some provisions of Law No. 022-92 of August 20, 1992 on the organization of the judicial branch in the Republic of Congo;

  • - Law No. 025-92 of August 20, 1992 and Law No. 30-94 of October 18, 1994 on the organization and operation of the Supreme Court;

  • - Law No. 17-99 of April 15, 1999 amending and adding certain provisions of Law No. 025-92 of August 20, 1992;

  • - Law No. 30-94 of October 18, 1994 on the organization and operation of the Supreme Court;

  • - Law No. 026-92 of August 20, 1992 on the organization of the legal profession;

  • - Law No. O17/89 of September 29, 1989 on the institution of the notary’s office;

  • - Law No. 027/92 of August 20, 1992 on the institution of the bailiff’s profession;

  • - Law No. 023-92 of August 20, 1992 on the regulations for the judiciary;

  • - Law No. 15-99 of April 15, 1999 amending and adding certain provisions of Law No. 023-92 of August 20, 1992 on the regulations for the judiciary;

  • - Law No. 4-2010 of June 14, 2010 on the protection of children in the Republic of Congo;

  • - Law No. 5-2011 of February 25, 2011 on the promotion and protection of indigenous populations in the Republic of Congo.

302. Judicial governance refers to a legal and judicial system in which laws are clearly defined and uniformly applied by an objective and independent judiciary. The judicial branch must in particular ensure respect for the law and for citizens’ rights as well as ensure the movement of people and goods in line with the public service function. According to the Congolese Constitution of January 20, 2002, judicial power is exercised by the Supreme Court, the Court of Accounts and Budgetary Oversight, the Court of Appeals, and other national jurisdictions.

Achievements in Recent Years

303. Under the terms of Article 1 of Law No. 19-99 of April 15, 1999 “justice is rendered in the name of the Congolese people” by a single court system. For various reasons and with the exception of the military and administrative courts that have not yet been established, the judicial map of Congo includes 103 jurisdictions, distributed as follows:

  • Supreme Court (1).

  • Court of Accounts and Budgetary Oversight (1).

  • Court of Appeals (5) - (Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, Dolisie, Owando, and Ouesso).

  • District Courts (17) sixteen (16) of which are operational (Brazzaville; Pointe-Noire; Dolisie, Sibiti; Madingou; Mouyondzi; Djambala; Oyo, Owando, Ouesso, Impfondo, Ewo, Mossaka, Gamboma, Mossendjo, and Kinkala) and one that is not operational due to lack of facilities (Kindamba).

  • Lower Courts (74) six (6) of which are led by magistrates and are operational: four (4) in Brazzaville (Poto-Poto; Makélékélé-Bacongo; Mfilou; and Talangaï) and two (2) in Pointe-Noire (Tchinouka and Tié-Tié). Some of the other lower courts are led by magistrates, clerks, and secretaries appointed by the first presidents of the Courts of Appeal, while others are awaiting the assignment of personnel.

  • Labor courts (2), Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.

  • Commercial courts (2), Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.

  • Children’s courts (2), Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.

This distribution is intended to ensure minimum coverage by judicial services throughout the country.

304. Congo has also implemented significant legal and judicial reforms by enacting laws on the protection of children and the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. Significant efforts have been made in terms of judicial infrastructure and equipment. The country has also implemented important legal and judicial reforms with respect to Congo’s integration in the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).

The Main Challenges to be Addressed

305. Beyond the aspects inherent to the organization and management of judicial administration, the number of cases tried seems to have barely improved, despite the increase in judicial personnel. Under these conditions, the system is hard-pressed to respect and recognize the protection of private property and citizens’ rights in a timely way.

306. In addition, legal and judicial procedures and provisions are not well publicized, making citizens vulnerable in their dealings with the courts. The lack of law or justice centers makes it impossible to fill in these gaps.

307. Moreover, prison facilities suffer from a shortage of infrastructure and qualified personnel. In effect, many prison administration tasks are now carried out by the police and gendarmes rather than by trained personnel. In addition, there is no policy on the social and professional reintegration of prisoners.

308. Finally, Congo still shows significant weaknesses in the area of judicial security for private operators. The resulting perception of a lack of security is a significant obstacle to improving the business climate and the development of both domestic and foreign private investment, which are so essential to transformation of the economy.

Security and National Defense Governance

309. Defense and security missions are performed by the Congolese armed forces, the gendarmerie, and the national police – the three components of Congolese law enforcement. This sector has experienced significant development as changes have occurred in the world strategic context. Thus, the collapse of the socialist bloc, the end of the cold war, and globalization have led to a redefinition of national and international approaches to the issues of defense and security that once focused on the defense of territorial integrity, so that the defense and security sector is now focused on the management of new threats produced by:

On the domestic level: (i) the emergence of non-state armed groups, (ii) the problems of rapid urbanization and governance deficits, (iii) organized crime, (iv) the breakdown of the socioeconomic fabric (unemployment and poverty);

On the international level: (i) international terrorism; (ii) fundamentalism and religious fanaticism; (iv) transnational crime; (iii) armed conflicts in neighboring countries; (v) cybercrime; and (vi) uncontrolled immigration.

Principal Achievements

310. Following these sociopolitical events, the unity of the army, police, and the gendarmerie was reestablished. From that point on, they were able to perform their primary missions of securing persons and property. Providing law enforcement with equipment and hiring new personnel made it possible to appreciably reduce insecurity and organized crime groups. The participation of specialized defense units in foreign peace-keeping operations helped to strengthen regional and subregional cooperation in the area of security and defense (FOMUC, MICOPAX).

  • - With respect to national defense, nine military defense zones and two military regions were created;

  • - The gendarmerie is organized into seven regions. Besides the mobile gendarmerie corps and specialized teams (railway and air), the territorial gendarmerie has an effective presence in the country’s 86 districts;

  • - The national police has 12 departmental headquarters and six central police stations (Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, Dolisie, Nkayi, Mossendjo, and Ouesso) and [text missing…]

This defense and security architecture is responsible for surveillance of the country, as well as for local protection for citizens.

The Main Challenges to be Addressed

311. With the new domestic and international sociopolitical context, it should be recognized that the defense and security subsectors will now be facing new challenges, namely:

- continuous adaptation to new types of crime and delinquency (consistent with strategies, material and human resources);

- more productive professionalization of the defense and security corps;

- Involvement of defense and security forces in development work (building infrastructure, producing goods and services, training young people, etc.)

Economic and Financial Governance

Historic Overview

312. During the first decade after Congo gained international sovereignty in 1960, the country experienced a short three-year period marked by a free-market-oriented economic development strategy and the launch of large projects designed to establish the foundation for the country’s sustainable economic development. In contrast, the second part of that decade was characterized by government interventionism in the spheres of production and commerce, an interventionism that allowed the creation of nearly fifty state-owned enterprises and offices.6

313. The following decade (1970s) was marked by the ideology of “ownership” of the national economy as reflected initially in a series of nationalizations, followed by difficulties managing a vast government economic sector in the second phase. Several companies were in fact nationalized in the early 1970s. In 1973, the consecration of petroleum as the country’s primary export commodity coincided with the gradual but constant decline in agricultural exports as well as the exploitation and processing of forests, representing the first crisis in this subsector, particularly with the withdrawal of Israeli developers and industrialists.7

314. In the mid-1970s, the Congolese economy had to confront its first great post-independence crisis. The Congolese government’s difficulty bringing in budgetary revenues for financial years 1975 and 1976, primarily based on petroleum revenues, and the stagnant management of state-owned enterprises, took on the dimensions of an unprecedented crisis. During the second half of the 1970s, the government became the dominant economic actor with nationalizations and government-created companies and jobs. However, the preceding crisis of “interventionist government” would expand to include the country’s political and institutional sphere until the end of the decade.

315. During the 1980s (third decade) two distinct periods could be noted as well. The early part of that decade was marked by the adoption of two interim plans in 1980 and 1981, in preparation for the launch and implementation of the five-year plan (1982-1986). It should also be noted that a Conference of State-Owned Enterprises was organized in 1980 to redefine the management framework for state-owned enterprises and the powers to be granted to their Boards.

316. The second period in the 1980s was characterized by the simultaneous collapse of petroleum barrel prices and the U.S. dollar, further impeding the successful conclusion of the five-year plan (1982-1986). This period was characterized by a worsening of the external imbalances and the financial situation of the government and the public sector at large, an increase in foreign debt service, and cumulative foreign payments arrears,8 justifying the adoption of structural adjustment plans, the restructuring of some state-owned enterprises, and abandonment of some government offices.

317. The 1990s is when government interventionism fell into disrepute and market-oriented management of the economy was restored. This choice entailed costs that had to be assumed in a tense context of public finances and the devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994 and against the backdrop of recurring social and political tensions. During this period, public debt service became unsustainable. Despite the pronounced decline in economic activities, particularly in the productive sector, the renegotiation of petroleum contracts in 1995, and the development of new oil fields (notably in Nkossa and Kitina) during the second half of the decade allowed the government to improve the level of its revenues, and it did so before, during, and after the sociopolitical events of 1997.

318. The 2000s are characterized by relative stagnation in per barrel oil prices initially, followed by a sustained recovery two years later and continuing up to 2010. Petroleum operations thus allowed the government to garner substantial resources with which to undertake the in-depth restructuring of its economy by developing infrastructure and promoting the diversification of economic activities.

Table 1.

Republic Of Congo: Key Macroeconomic Indicators: 1960-2010

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Source: STP/DSCERP, World Bank Data, World Development Indicators ( and National Authorities

Governance and Leadership: Lessons from Countries that have Emerged Successfully

1. Since 1950, 13 developing countries (Botswana, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand) have experienced average annual growth of 7 percent or more over a period of 25 years or more. At this rate of growth, an economy doubles its size (nominal GDP) every decade. These 13 countries have five similar characteristics. They have (i) been able to integrate themselves in the global economy and exploit the advantages of the international market; (ii) maintained macroeconomic stability; (iii) accumulated abundant financial resources and achieved very high savings and investment rates; (iv) allowed their domestic market to allocate resources; (v) had committed, credible, and capable governments.

2. Economic growth requires conditions that go beyond the economy. It requires committed, credible, and capable governments. The 13 countries with strong and rapid growth built their economic prosperity on solid political foundations. Their political decision-makers quickly understood that growth does not miraculously appear all of a sudden. It must be carefully chosen as the country’s primary objective. For example, in Singapore, according to a speech by Minister Goh Chok Tong: “the pursuit of the objective of growth has been a principle of the country’s policy for the last 40 years.” Singapore’s government and its institutions constantly seek to anticipate the actions needed to sustain the momentum of Singapore’s economy.

3. Several developing countries’ governments have promoted “political acceptance” of the idea that economic growth will follow. Others have adopted economic reforms solely for the sake of adopting reforms. When growth did not follow, they did not try other reforms. In contrast, in the 13 countries with rapid growth, political decision-makers understood that successful development required a commitment lasting for several decades. Even at relatively high growth rates of 7 to 10 percent, it takes decades for a country to go from a low-income country to a middle-income country. During this long period of transition, the country’s citizens must forego consumption today for higher living standards tomorrow. The public can accept this policy only if decision-makers clearly communicate their vision of the future and a clear strategy for achieving high levels of growth. They must be credible and considered thrifty and the population must believe their promises of future rewards.

4. Their promises must also be inclusive so that citizens can be confident that they and their children will share in the fruits of growth and development. In Botswana, for example, Seretse Kama ceded the rights over his own tribe’s diamond mines to the government. This gave each tribe in Botswana a more significant share in the success of the government.

5. Other governments have established an implicit or explicit contract favoring growth, by offering health and education services and sometimes by redistributing national wealth. These contracts have been maintained, at least in spirit. Without these political foundations, sustaining growth policies is very difficult, or impossible.

6. Such leadership requires time and patience and a long-term perspective. In many cases, rapidly growing countries have been dominated by a single party that could expect to retain power for several decades. In contrast, in a multi-party system, governments look only to the next election. Nonetheless, democracies can experience moments of strong growth. Today’s India and Australia are examples of this. Australia’s Productivity Commission was established by an act of Parliament in 1998. As an independent institution, it regularly evaluates the government’s regulations and microeconomic policies, analyzes long-term growth prospects, and helps bring together the principal economic actors to design economic reform proposals. Ireland’s Social Partnership, which grew out of the country’s economic stagnation during the 1980s, brings together employees, unions, and the government every three years to rethink and renegotiate the country’s economic strategy. Once ratified, these deliberations become the economic policy framework for the next three years.

7. When committed to the objective of strong growth, governments must be pragmatic in their pursuit of that growth. Political decision-makers who have succeeded in sustaining strong growth were prepared to try, to fail, and to learn from their defeats. Singapore, for example, did not establish a policy of opening up economically to foreign trade until after it had tried an economic policy that turned inward and encouraged domestic companies to compete with industrial imports (import substitution policy). In China, Deng Xiaoping described this approach as “crossing the river by jumping on stones,” a phrase often repeated in China.

Source: STP/DSCERP in Summary of World Bank Document.
Recent Economic Management: The Performance has Clearly Improved

319. There are two important aspects to economic governance:

  • How the State manages itself (management of government and the public sector)

  • How the State manages the economy and the private sector.

“How the State manages itself” can be appreciated in different areas: (i) management of the public finances; (ii) management of human resources, government investments and government property; and (iii) macroeconomic management and strategic planning.

“How the State manages the economy and the private sector” can be assessed through different policies and actions to reform and regulate markets, to procure essential public goods and services, and to create an administrative and legal climate conducive to a flourishing private sector

Management of the public finances

320. Accountability for fiscal management is overseen by the internal and external control bodies. In Congo, ex ante internal administrative control is entrusted to the Directorate-General of Budgetary Control (DGCB) and the Directorate-General of Budget (DGB), while ex-post internal control falls to the Inspectorate-General of Finance (IGF). The Office of Audit and Budgetary Discipline and the Economic and Finance Committees of the National Assembly and the Senate oversee internal controls. The Inspectorate-General of Government supervises all controls in the executive branch.

321. Revenue collection is the responsibility of the Directorate-General of the Treasury (DGT). Revenues assessed by the Directorate-General of Taxation and State Property (DGI) and the Directorate-General of Customs and Indirect Duties (DGDDI) are recovered directly by a receiving officer who deposits them on a daily basis in the treasury.

322. The quality of ex ante internal control has long been affected by the lack of representation of the DGCB in the Government Procurement Regulatory Authority and the lack of a computerized link between the file kept by government agents and the file showing the balance. Moreover, ex post internal control is hindered by a shortage of financial resources and the poor quality of human resources assigned to the IGF. The elimination of unannounced controls and inspections has also reduced the effectiveness of ex post internal control.

323. Major reforms have been undertaken to strengthen both internal and external control over fiscal management. In particular, a new budgetary accounting terminology has been adopted, based on the functional classification and consistent with international rules and standards (International Financial Statistics methodology). The objective is to facilitate consistency between budgetary allocations and the government’s strategic priorities.

324. As well, a Government Action Plan for Fiscal Management (PAGGFP) and another concerning improved management of government investments (PAAGIP) have been adopted with a view to reinforcing government transparency, efficiency and performance. The action plan for government investment management calls for improving the preparation process, cost estimation, and the selection of new projects, as well as bringing greater efficiency and transparency to execution of the government’s capital budget. These plans are designed to: (i) reinforce the capacities of the research and planning directorates (DEP) of ministries and institutions; (ii) improve the budget preparation process; (iii) streamline and rationalize the expenditure circuit and unify the payment circuits. These two plans provide a solid foundation for introducing fundamental reforms to the system for managing the public finances.

325. A new government procurement code was promulgated in May 2009. It establishes the regulatory and institutional framework for public procurement in Congo, consistent with best international practices. The code will help to optimize the utilization of resources earmarked for development, by ensuring competition and transparency.

326. At the same time, significant innovations have been introduced in recent years to strengthen fiscal management. These include:

  • Introduction of SYSTAF and the Single Identification Number (Numéro d’Identification Unique, NIU). The tax administration can now record all taxpayers and create a single file for them. This reform has served to expand the tax base.

  • Introduction of the ASYCUDA software in the customs administration, for better control of the tax base and of customs revenues.

  • Improved transparency and governance in the oil sector, via quarterly certification of oil revenues and their transfer to the treasury within 45 days following the lifting of oil shipments. Data on oil production and revenues are regularly published at the Internet site of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and the Public Portfolio.

  • Adoption of the master plan for computerizing the Finance Ministry, more specifically the revenue collecting agencies (régies financières). The objective is to exert greater control over the tax base and over government revenues.

327. Nevertheless, judicial and parliamentary supervision over fiscal management still betrays some technical weaknesses. These weaknesses have also been identified in the Directorate-General of Budget and of the Treasury, as well as in the Directorate-General of Public Accounts (DGCP), when it comes to producing administrative and management accounts for preparing the budget review act at the end of the fiscal year.

Public debt management

328. The government has created a National Public Debt Committee (CNDP) in order to monitor the country’s indebtedness more closely and avoid a return to the over-indebtedness of past years. It is widely acknowledged that the weakness of accountability mechanisms with respect to borrowing and public debt management, together with insufficient budgetary discipline, have caused the country’s over-indebtedness and problems with speculators (“vulture funds”). To address this weakness the authorities promulgated a decree (no. 2008-56 of March 31, 2008) instituting a National Public Debt Committee (CNDP) to monitor the debt and report on public debt management.

329. The creation of the CNDP is also consistent with the CEMAC regulation (12/07-UEAC-CM-15) formalizing the benchmark framework for government borrowing policy and public debt management in member states. Among other tasks, the CNDP is to prepare a national public debt strategy consistent with the country’s development objectives and its financial capacity. This strategy is now annexed to the budget law as a way of strengthening parliamentary control over borrowing mechanisms and conditions.

330. Despite these shortcomings, Congo has made significant reforms that have allowed it to reach the completion point and benefit from significant debt relief. Thanks to the solid economic performance of recent years, the debt relief obtained under the HIPC initiative, and the pay-down of domestic debt, Congo has reduced its debt considerably and has improved its sustainability over the medium term. This good performance can be seen in Congo’s debt ratios. Table 2 shows that, over the period 2004-2010, the debt stock has clearly declined as a proportion of GDP from 198.7 percent to 23.8 percent, and debt service has dropped from 16.0 percent to 3.4 percent of exports. The following table presents the country’s situation, compared to other African countries, mainly in the subregion.

Table 2.

Public Debt of Congo and Comparable Countries

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Source: IMF Africa Department database (September 16, 2011) and World Economic Outlook (September 16, 2011)
Government investment

331. The management of government investments remains a major challenge that the government must address to ensure the success of the country’s development strategy. In comparison with other countries, Congo devotes considerable resources to public investment, but the quality and effectiveness of that investment is still well below that of the best performers in the region. Table 4 confirms that Congo’s public investment rate is considerably higher than the average for sub-Saharan African countries. However, effectiveness falls short of the average in those countries. This point is confirmed by other international benchmarks. For example, governance indicators show that, when it comes to government effectiveness, Congo is still at the bottom of the scale in international rankings.

Table 3.

Comparative Macroeconomic Indicators

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Table 4.

Comparative Agriculture Potential of Congo and Selected Countries

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332. The analyses point to a number of causes underlying the investment quality problem, in particular shortcomings in: (i) the project planning process (identification, evaluation, validation); (ii) budgetary choices (aligning resources with development projects); (iii) and, most importantly, investment execution, in both financial and physical terms, and the monitoring of that execution.

333. The government is aware of these shortcomings and has instituted a program to strengthen the planning and management of government investment. The key actions already taken in this context include:

  • Adoption of decree no. 2009-230 of July 30, 2009, clarifying and simplifying the expenditure circuit and the respective roles of the principal players. That decree: (i) delegates to ministries the responsibility for committing and verifying expenditures; (ii) establishes budget control units within ministries to supervise and approve commitments and verifications; (iii) eliminates sign-off by the budget controller after the payment order (ordonnancement) is issued; and (iv) leaves the Directorate-General of Budget with only the task of issuing the payment order.

  • Adoption in 2009 of a new system for evaluating and selecting investment projects, designed to ensure that new projects financed from the budget are consistent with the objectives of the PRSP and meet clear criteria of technical and financial feasibility.

334. There have been some difficulties, however, in implementing these reforms, due to capacity problems. While decree no. 2009-230 gives the line ministries responsibility for committing and verifying expenditures, there are a number of gaps in the system that can lead to inefficiency. As well, ministries and institutions have difficulty in conducting project studies and drawing a link between these projects and the PRSP objectives.

335. Lastly, introduction of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), the Priority Action Programs (PAPs) and objective-based program budgets in the ministries must also allow the framework for their implementation to be rationalized. The PAP approach makes it easier to identify and plan for ministries’ human resource needs vis-à-vis priority program requirements. These needs are programmed in the PAPs and reflected in the line ministries’ MTEF. To the extent that these needs form the basis for budgetary allocations under the MTEF, the MTEF process will help align recruitment with sectoral strategy priorities. This will help to rationalize the entire recruitment process in the civil service, in line with national strategic priorities.

Management of government property

336. Congo still has no system of accounting for public assets, but the government has created two ministries in charge of government property (domaine public) and state assets (patrimoine de l’Etat). Those ministries are responsible for inventory, accounting and management of State assets, but they are not yet fully operational in carrying out their missions. The authorities are well aware of this and are working to resolve the problem so that the State will have a sound basis of information on its assets and their status.

Strategic planning

337. Congo has made significant progress with strategic planning in recent years. Key actions include: (i) adoption and execution of the first-generation Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) in March 2008; (ii) implementation of the MTEF in 2009 for better alignment of the budget with the PRSP; (iii) reorganization of the Investment Projects Evaluation Center (CEPI) to strengthen the project planning and evaluation process; (iv) reinforcement of technical capacities for monitoring and evaluating PRSP programs, including physical and financial execution of investments; and (v) introduction of results-based management (RBM).

338. With the first PRSP, the Republic of Congo had for the first time a coherent and credible multisectoral strategy for integrated development. The general objective of the strategy was to improve the macroeconomic framework in a sustainable manner and to strengthen the social sector, so that Congo could move toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The PRSP was a prerequisite for achieving the completion point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.

339. In this context, the authorities have also made great efforts to reorganize and reinforce the entire process of program execution and monitoring. This initiative is a response to the shortcomings detected in the coordination and monitoring of activities under the strategy.

340. This problem is common to nearly all countries of sub-Saharan Africa. For example, PRSP evaluations have shown that in most cases it is not the quality of the strategy documents or other programs but rather the lack of adequate execution and monitoring capacities that has undermined the effectiveness of national strategies. In this respect, Congo has been no exception. To a large extent, the disappointing performances are due to the problems of resource allocation (budgetary alignment) mentioned above, but also to problems of organizational, execution and monitoring capacity.

341. To address this challenge, the Congolese authorities have made great efforts to strengthen the execution mechanism. The key move in this area was certainly the establishment of the DGGT (General Commission for Large-Scale Projects) to carry out major government projects of national importance. The DGGT has executed nearly 80 percent of all government investment over the period 2008-2010.

342. In the course of its efforts to resolve execution problems through a “concentrated and centralized” approach, the government has become increasingly aware of the merits but also the limitations of this approach. It is important to improve communication between the assistant project manager and the contracting authority (sectoral ministry) in the monitoring and evaluation of the work. Indeed, the ministries (DEP) often highlight information gaps with respect to the progress of their work entrusted to the DGGT.

Moreover, the government has engaged in discussions to reassess the situation and refine the criteria for DGGT intervention in capital project execution

Moreover, the government has engaged in discussions to reassess the situation and refine the criteria for DGGT intervention in capital project execution.

The General Commission for Large-Scale Projects (DGGT)

1. Created in 2002, the DGGT is today governed by decree no. 2009-158 of May 20, 2009, which reorganized it. It is the government’s focal point for carrying out large-scale projects. It reports to the President of the Republic and has responsibility for investment projects in the amount of 250 million or more.

2. The DGGT is an administrative and technical agency. Government departments are required to delegate to the DGGT the work of preparing, tendering and monitoring contracts for government procurement or the concessioning of public services beyond the threshold indicated above. In this capacity of “owner agent” (maître d’ouvrage délégué), the DGGT is responsible for:

  • Finalizing procurement programs, together with the project owner.

  • Organizing and calling for bids for government procurement or public-service concessions.

  • Reviewing and examining bids for government procurement or public-service concessions.

  • Drafting, negotiating and managing contracts.

  • Assessing the technical and financial specifications of contracts, as well as their execution statements.

  • Organizing and conducting the acceptance of works, goods or services and overseeing the performance of public-service concessionaires.

3. The DGGT thus plays the role of a horizontal or cross-sector administration, mobilizing energies within all ministries to achieve objectives of common interest. The projects carried out by the DGGT are financed from the capital budget of the various ministries and institutions.

4. Large-scale projects handled by the DGGT include:

  • the construction of airports at Dolisie, Owando, Pointe-Noire and Impfondo;

  • construction of the second runway and air terminal at the Brazzaville Airport;

  • completion of work on the Ngoulonkila-Lékana section of highway RP 26, Ngo-Djambala-Lékana;

  • construction and paving of about 46 km of the Bouansa - Mouyondzi highway;

  • construction of 84 km of railway 1998-2009;

  • construction 2004-2009: Moukondo-Nkombo Highway; 2nd exit North Brazzaville; bridge over the Tsiémé and road; bus station at Dolisie;

  • construction of the Port Autonome de Pointe-Noire;

  • construction of the Imboulou dam; Impfondo power station; M’Pila power station;

  • water supply at Likouala; rehabilitation of the Djoué plant;

  • construction of the port at Lékéty;

  • dredging at Mossaka and de-silting of the main port of Brazzaville and secondary ports;

  • rehabilitation of high-voltage transformer stations at Tsélampo, Mongo Kamba, N’goyo and the Djoué dam;

  • construction and outfitting of the national radio and television center;

  • construction of the radio/TV station at Oyo;

  • rehabilitation of stadiums: Franco Anselmi and M’voumvou at Pointe-Noire, Massamba-Debat at Brazzaville and Pont at Dolisie;

  • construction of the municipal stadium at Owando and the Oyo gymnasium;

  • construction of the Oyo general hospital and the Loandjili hospital;

  • construction of prefecture or sub-prefecture headquarters in the départements of Kouilou, Niari, Likouala, Oyo, Dolisie, Impfondo, Cuvette-ouest, Owando.

Source: ST/DSCERP and INT-DEC.

343. At the same, aware of the growing importance of foreign investment for transforming the economy, the government has put in place the National Investment Commission (CNI) to track private investment plans and projects, under the coordination of the Ministry for Economy and Planning. Under this initiative, an inventory of investment intentions will be compiled and the introduction of investors into the Congolese economy will be facilitated. The initiative reflects the importance that the government places on foreign investments as a channel for transmitting new technologies, injecting significant financial resources into the national economy, and opening up international markets for Congolese products. This initiative will also improve the programming of the government’s own actions in support of these investments, so that public investment can be an effective complement to private investment for accelerated the transformation of the Congolese economy.

344. All these developments with respect to strategic planning and building capacities for execution and monitoring of the strategy have contributed to implementation of PRSP 1. They have been used for preparation of the PND and they will be reinforced and put to work for its effective execution.

Macroeconomic policies

345. Beyond administrative management, economic governance is reflected in the quality of macroeconomic management. Here, Congo has made remarkable progress during the last decade. The government has resolutely embraced structural reforms in order to stabilize the country’s macroeconomic situation. It was in this context that it implemented the macroeconomic program supported by the IMF under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) in the context of the HIPC initiative. The program brought Congo to the completion point in January 2010. It will continue with the support of a new instrument, the Extended Credit Facility (ECF).

346. Implementation of this aspect, together with other components of the poverty reduction strategy, has allowed Congo to consolidate the macroeconomic framework. As proof, economic growth has been robust in recent years, averaging around 7.0 percent between 2008 and 2010, despite volatility in the oil sector. In particular, the non-oil sector has produced very encouraging results, with average growth of around 5.2 percent over the same period, despite adverse world economic conditions.

347. Similarly, the public finances have been cleaned up. Non-oil revenues have been rising steadily, from 22.7 percent of GDP in 2008 to 25.5 percent in 2010. Despite the launch of the PRSP programs, spending increases have been relatively restrained in GDP terms, thanks to control over operating expenses, and despite the higher capital outlays occasioned by implementation of the PRSP.

348. This pro-growth fiscal policy has been combined with a prudent monetary policy. As a result, inflation has been kept under control (… percent) over this period, despite higher prices for food and oil products.

Structural Reforms and Strengthening the Business Climate

349. In its approach to economic management, the government has also introduced structural reforms intended to liberalize and regulate markets, together with policies to improve the business climate and promote the private sector. Economic operators had long complained of an environment characterized by bureaucratic red tape, corruption and quasi-fiscal levies that was discouraging business and hindering the competitiveness of domestic firms. The government is well aware of these ills and is facing them squarely. To this end, it has instituted a series of measures to reduce transaction costs and improve the business climate.

Key sectors

350. The government has taken a series of steps to reduce transaction costs at Customs. The main actions here included: (i) institution of the “one-stop maritime window” (GUMAR) for integrated handling of commercial operations at the Pointe-Noire customs station, together with measures to streamline and simplify customs clearance procedures; (ii) strict management of electronic manifests and a scanning device for container inspection and risk management.

351. To promote competition and reduce distortions, the government has eliminated exceptional exemptions and has computerized exemption granting and management procedures. It has also reviewed the customs privileges contained in government contracts, conventions and other texts. As well, the government has applied CEMAC Act 298 concerning establishment agreements in the oil industry, including subcontractors.

352. In the mining and oil sector, the government has devoted considerable effort to improving the transparency of natural resource management, especially in the context of its membership in 2004 to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). This action was followed by the establishment of appropriate national structures, certification of oil revenues, and audits of oil company accounts (oil cost audits).

353. Improved management of the oil sector is now reflected in better performance by the two key national companies in the sector, Société Nationale du Pétrole du Congo (SNPC) and CORAF. In particular, the SNPC reforms have instituted analytical accounting in that company, which has improved its earnings results.

354. The government has adopted an action plan for marketing Congolese oil in line with international standards. A program of reforms and upgrades has been instituted to enhance the capacities and performance of CORAF. The government has also taken steps to clean up the accounts of that enterprise, including application of a transfer price for crude oil that will gradually balance its accounts while keeping the pump price accessible to Congolese consumers. As a result of these reforms, recent years have seen a clear improvement in CORAF’s earnings and in coverage of domestic market needs. These reforms and good performances have also translated into a clear improvement in government mobilization of oil revenues. In fact, the share of oil revenues in total government revenues was consistently above 80 percent between 2008 and 2010.

355. In the financial sector, the government has made major reforms to clean up credit institutions and insurance companies. Those reforms have also improved the operating conditions of micro-finance institutions. Liberalization in the banking sector has sparked the entry of new credit institutions and greater diversification of banking activities. Specifically, the government has instituted reforms to eliminate the ceiling on lending rates and to make lending conditions more transparent (in particular through publication of the total cost of loan offers, including fees and commissions). The government has also succeeded in expanding the use of banking services by paying salaries and pensions via direct deposit and eliminating account charges.

356. The government has defined a plan to reform the insurance and reinsurance market. The public operator (Assurances et Réassurances du Congo, ARC) has been restructured in accordance with code of the Inter-African Conference on the Insurance Market (CIMA) and the rules of the Regional Reinsurance Company (Compagnie Commune de Réassurance des Etats membres de la CIMA, CICA-RE). All these actions should help improve government intervention, the quality of economic and social services (transport, water, electricity etc.), and the business climate.

Management of state-owned enterprises

357. Major steps have been taken to reinforce accountability in the management of state-owned enterprises. The government created the National Management Center (CENAGES) by decree no. 49/78 of December 18, 1978 and the National Audit Office (Commissariat National aux Comptes, CNC) by law no. 13/81 of March 14, 1984 creating the Charter of State-Owned Enterprises.

  • CENAGES is the government instrument for promoting the development of modern management techniques in state-owned enterprises, semipublic enterprises, and public organizations and establishments.

  • The CNC has the task of reviewing and auditing the operations, accounts and training programs of state-owned enterprises in the fields of internal control, accounting control and organization.

However, these two agencies have performed poorly in carrying out their missions and they will have to be thoroughly overhauled, in light of the new free-market context, if they are to make a meaningful contribution.

358. In addition, the “accountability” obligation of private and public enterprises alike demands rehabilitation of a government agency to certify their accounts for various purposes (taxation, banking, legal etc.).

359. On this point, it may be noted that the legislative and regulatory framework for private-sector accounting in Congo is governed by OHADA provisions. The government has reformed the legal and judicial mechanism and has harmonized the commercial code with the OHADA treaty. The powers of the OHADA National Commission have been reinforced as have those of the commercial courts.

360. However, the absence of an officially recognized college of accountants and the ineffective organization of the Association of Professional Accountants (APC) represent obstacles to the preparation of reliable financial statements. Efforts are needed, then, to strengthen the institutional environment for the accounting profession by establishing a College of Accountants, improving initial and ongoing training for accounting professionals, and making private-sector operators aware of the need to prepare accounting and financial statements.

Infrastructure services and private sector support programs

361. Despite the reforms described above, the business climate is still not very conducive, as indicated by Congo’s low rating against international criteria. It is a demonstrated fact that it is not easy to start up and grow a business in Congo, or to invest there, not because of the lack of economic opportunities but because of an environment that is still unattractive and difficult to navigate.

362. Aware of these weaknesses, the government has undertaken major structural reforms as well as investments in essential infrastructure and services for improving the business climate and encouraging investment. These programs are backed by the country’s development partners. Thus, the World Bank is supporting government initiatives under the Economic Diversification Support Project (EDSP), focusing on its component to foster public-private dialogue and reform the investment climate. The African Development Bank is also involved in this effort through the Institutional Support Project for Improvement of the Business Climate and Economic Diversification of Congo (PACADEC). These projects, implemented concurrently and coordinated by the government, are designed to strengthen the institutional framework for supporting business and investment. In 2010 they led to creation of a high-level council for public-private dialogue (HCPP), a forum for coordination between public and private stakeholders. The council meets once a year, and reports to the President of the Republic.

363. In the transport sector in particular, the assistance provided by the third component of the PADE project for reforming the CFCO (the Congo-Ocean Railway) should improve the supply of transport infrastructure services and reduce access costs. Government infrastructure investments, including construction of the Imboulou hydroelectric station, the Pointe-Noire gas fired power station, the Pointe-Noire-Brazzaville highway (of which the Pointe-Noire-Dolisie section is completed), and various other projects are part of this move to improve the business climate.

Combating corruption

364. The government has undertaken targeted efforts against corruption as well as against money laundering and terrorism financing. In this context, it has created the National Commission to Combat Corruption, Fraud and Misappropriation (CNLCCF), the Anticorruption Observatory, and the National Financial Investigation Agency. The Commission has the mandate to formulate, coordinate and implement the national anticorruption strategy, while the Observatory was created to oversee and assess that strategy’s implementation. The Agency is responsible for investigating financial crime. The institutional and regulatory framework for combating corruption, fraud and misappropriation is governed by the anticorruption law adopted in July 2009. An action plan was adopted in August 2009. It provides for a series of measures to curb the risks of corruption in the five most exposed sectors: oil production and marketing, forestry, fiscal management, justice and police, and the social sectors.

The Main Challenges

365. As has been repeatedly noted, improving governance in all its forms, and particularly in economic management, is imperative for the modernization of Congolese society, the transformation of the economy, and the emergence of Congo as envisioned in “Le Chemin d’Avenir”. The government is well aware of this and intends to redouble its efforts in pursuit of its program to strengthen governance.

366. Specifically, the government will step up its efforts to: (i) improve delivery of the public services essential for building the infrastructure needed to support economic activity; (ii) modernize the management of state-owned enterprises and public administration, and delegate certain public services to private initiative while reinforcing accountability in public services; (iii) enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of government agents and interventions through better management of human resources, improved strategic planning and budgeting, and stricter execution and monitoring of activities; (iv) improve the business climate and boost the economy’s competitiveness through liberalization and effective regulation of factor markets as well as goods and services markets, and consolidate the achievements of public-private dialogue. The key strategies and programs in the area of economic governance are described in chapters 7 to 9 of this paper.

Chapter 3. Growth and Employment

367. Even with the best efforts at redistribution, there will be no significant decline in poverty and vulnerability if economic growth remains weak or volatile. Recent experience in emerging countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China (the “BRICs”) shows that poverty reduction has resulted from strong and sustained growth over a long period. Similarly, a recent World Bank study showed that the 13 countries that have seen strong growth over a long period, i.e. an annual growth rate of 7 percent over at least 25 years, have also succeeded in reducing monetary poverty, and in some cases eradicating it, and making significant improvements to people’s living conditions. The lesson is clear: strong, sustained, job-creating growth is necessary to raise living standards and reduce poverty at a fast pace. Despite problems of inequality in some cases, performances of this kind have been shown sufficient at least to reduce monetary poverty and strengthen social development.

368. The government has paid attention to these outcomes, and for this reason the acceleration of growth stands at the core of its development strategies. Indeed, it is aware that this objective will not be achieved unless the country can diversify the sources of growth, in favor of the non-oil sector, and ensure the further processing of primary products, in favor of industry and services (upstream and downstream). This “integrated” vision of diversification is clearly set forth in the Chemin d’Avenir, which places the emphasis on modernization of society and on industrialization as the twin pillars of the strategy for Congo’s emergence.

369. However, the government recognizes that for the time being and for some years to come, oil will remain the primary source for financing of the state budget, and hence of economic growth. Mining resources will be progressively added to this base: iron in particular has a very promising outlook for Congo. The government is well aware, however, that these resources are hostage to world price fluctuations, and they could dwindle as wells and quarries are exhausted.

370. Moreover, and notwithstanding its weight in the economy and in government revenues, the mineral sector – oil in particular – creates relatively few direct jobs, because of its weak linkages, upstream and downstream, with the rest of the economy. The government also understands the risks of the so-called “Dutch disease” associated with appreciation of the real exchange rate in the context of abundant resources, notably oil. This would compound the mechanical effects of nominal appreciation due to the CFA franc’s linkage to the euro, and would seriously undermine the Congolese economy’s competitiveness and hence its prospects for industrialization.

371. It is for this reason that the government, while pursuing strategies for the development of extractive industries, is determined to exploit its resources prudently in order to finance a strategy for diversification into other sectors. The following sections of this paper will analyze performance in terms of program execution and will evaluate the outcomes in terms of overall economic growth and sectoral contributions.

Growth: Sources, Performance and Challenges

Historic Overview of Changes in The Congolese Economy

372. The bouts of political and economic turbulence described above, as well as the important changes in the international setting, have greatly influenced the macroeconomic performance of Congo since independence in 1960. Over that long period, Congo recorded average annual growth rates of around 4.0 percent (1960-2011) while the country’s population grew at around 2.6 percent each year. Consequently, real per capita GDP averaged annual growth of 1.4 percent, rising from US$619.20 in 1960 (in constant dollars of 2000) to US$715.10 in 2011. This performance places Congo slightly above the average for sub-Saharan Africa (1 percent annual growth in per capita GDP over the period 1960-2010).

373. In line with political developments, changes in the productive structure of the Congolese economy can be grouped into four phases: 1960-1974, 1975-1984, 1985-1999, and the years since 2000. From 1960 to 1974 the Congolese economy owed its dynamism essentially to forestry and potassium mining, to which may be added agriculture (foodstuffs, coffee and cocoa). The extension of the rail and river transport network to neighboring countries during that time gave services a prime place in national income. The economy achieved an annual growth rate of around 5.5 percent.

374. From 1975 to 1984, oil production intensified, bringing about profound changes in the structure of domestic output and exports, as well as in government revenues. This trend was assisted by a particularly favorable economic setting of high and sustained oil prices on the world market during those years. As a result, the Congolese economy consistently recorded average annual growth rates of around 10 percent.

375. This performance was then reversed by emergence of the “Dutch disease”: Congo saw a sharp appreciation in the real exchange rate and thus a steep decline in its competitiveness, which depressed agriculture and manufacturing and aggravated dependence on oil. In fact, the sharp domestic demand boost from oil revenues exerted equivalent pressure on prices, wages and production costs, and was accompanied by nominal and real appreciation of the CFA franc. The resulting loss of competitiveness was devastating for sectors producing tradable goods: agriculture and manufacturing. The contraction of these sectors, in turn, accentuated Congo’s dependence on the oil sector and made the economy and the public finances hostage to fluctuating world prices, and hence to the kind of volatility that is damaging to any sustained development effort.

376. These structural problems plunged Congo into a period of economic and political instability between 1985 and 1999. This combination of circumstances undermined the social consensus and mired the country in devastating conflicts that aggravated the economic situation. The cumulative macroeconomic imbalances and structural weaknesses, which were masked by the proceeds from oil, became steadily worse during this period. Despite significant flows of oil revenues, Congo found itself structurally indebted, and the growing burden of debt service crowded out productive investment by government. The collapse of public investment, combined with the economy’s declining competitiveness, led to a slowdown in growth and an increase in poverty.

377. Since the turn of the century, Congo has progressively consolidated domestic peace and has undertaken economic reforms that have reversed the previous trends and have revived the country’s economic growth. Several factors have contributed to this development: (i) the return to a favorable international oil market and expansion of local oil production; (ii) implementation of courageous structural reforms to liberalize the economy and restore competitiveness. As a consequence, the Congolese economy has recorded a positive average annual growth rate of around 5.0 percent, which is 24 times higher than the average for the period 1985-1999. The oil sector has contributed significantly to this performance, but the non-oil sector has also shown signs of revival, with an average annual rate of 7.0 percent led by the forestry industry (before the 2008 crisis) and by telecommunications.

378. With these results, the government is determined to step up efforts at reform in order to strengthen the business climate, encourage domestic and foreign investment, and make the private sector a partner and prime agent in transforming the economy. The following analysis of performance and opportunities by sector indicates the areas where these efforts should be directed in order to maximize the impact on the economy as a whole.

Sectoral Performances

379. Congo has some important agricultural assets that are still largely unexploited. The most important of these, of course, is the extent and quality of its cultivable land. The country has more than 10 million hectares of arable land, of which 90 percent remains available. This situation contrasts with the conditions in many sub-Saharan African countries, where land is in short supply as a result of demographic pressure and advanced agricultural development. This is the case, for example, in Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi and to a lesser extent in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon. As a consequence, Congo still has strong potential for the development of staple food crops as well as cash crops, including the production of biofuels for which there is a booming international market.

380. Moreover, Congo is endowed with an exceptionally favorable geographic location. Straddling the equator, the country has the possibility to produce seasonal crops throughout the year. A situation of this kind, where crops can be alternated during the entire year, is rare in Africa and even worldwide. The country’s orchards have a rich heritage of fruit-bearing tree species (21 kinds of mango, six kinds of mandarin, four kinds of orange). It also has know-how in grafting, which allows production cycles to be shortened, and Congo can now position itself as an exporter of orchard products.

381. Despite these advantages, agriculture has languished over the years because of low investment and productivity. This decline has been evident as much in staple food crops, where output per head dropped from 420 kg to 300 kg from the 1980s to the middle of the last decade, as in cash crops (coffee, cocoa, palm oil, cotton, peanuts, sugar cane). This situation has resulted in a steady shrinkage of agriculture’s share in GDP, from 20 percent in the 1980s to less than 10 percent in the first decade of this century, and it currently stands at only 4 percent of GDP.

382. As a result, Congo is experiencing problems of food security and heavy dependence on imported food products. Trends in the agriculture sector are exacerbating food insecurity and making the country increasingly dependent for its food on the outside world. As agricultural output has stagnated or declined, imports of foodstuffs have risen sharply, to around 130 million CFA francs, or 12 percent of the country’s export proceeds. This is making the country and its people, in particular the poorest, increasingly vulnerable. As an indication, the index of food production per capita at the beginning of this century was barely 60 percent of its level in the 1960s, while in developing countries as a whole that index stood at 170 percent of its 1960 value.

383. This poor performance is in large part due to the competitiveness problems discussed above, aggravated by low factor productivity and small-scale production patterns. The observed weakness of agriculture performance is linked in part to the dominance of a traditional farming system, which is still practiced on 81 percent of cultivated lands and is characterized by low productivity. This system coexists with two smaller-scale but more productive systems, namely “periurban” agriculture and large-scale public or private plantations.

384. Beyond the small size of farming operations (0.5 to 1.5 ha), traditional agriculture produces very low yields. The yield for maize, for example, is only 690 kg/hectare, compared to more than 3 tons per hectare for developing countries as a whole and 1.2 tons for sub-Saharan Africa. Yields are higher for cassava (6.6 tons/hectare) but are still well below the average for developing countries (more than 10 tons/hectare in the past decade). These low yields are due to rudimentary production techniques, in particular the very scarce use of fertilizer.

385. The poor agricultural performance is also the result of inadequate government attention and the inappropriate sector policies that have long prevailed. For more than 30 years (1960-1992), agricultural policy focused on establishing large-scale, government-run farms and ranches. With the withdrawal of government from direct involvement in production activities, agricultural policy during the periods of structural adjustment shifted in favor of private operations. Unfortunately, the reforms in support of private agriculture have not been applied with the diligence required, in light of the weakness of traditional agriculture. To the contrary, the reforms have been scattered and haphazard and as a result they have had a negligible impact on transforming the sector and boosting its productivity. To this must be added the depressing effects of competitiveness problems and, more particularly, the conflicts at the beginning and end of the 1990s. The end result has been a sharp decline in agricultural activity.

386. The lack of sustained attention, in terms of government investment, is still evident in agriculture. Investment spending earmarked for agriculture is still low in comparison to national needs and international standards. Over the years 2008-2010, government investment in the sector represented only 5.5 percent of average annual capital spending. This poor performance leaves Congo well below the international benchmark established at the Maputo Summit in 2003. (The NEPAD recommendations called for allocating at least 10 percent of the budget in order to achieve an agricultural growth rate of 6 percent, or three percentage points in excess of population growth).

387. The government is determined to revive the agriculture sector and make it one of the drivers of economic transformation to achieve greater and better-distributed growth. However, there are a number of severe constraints that must be addressed in order to take advantage of Congo’s agricultural assets and reinforce their contribution to the country’s development.

388. The issue of “small-scale” production and factor productivity. As noted above, the very first constraint concerns the “small-scale” and rudimentary production technologies typical of “peasant agriculture” that account for 80 percent of farm output. As a result, productivity and competitiveness are weak and remain a drag on the expansion of Congolese agriculture. To this must be added a series of factors, in particular: (i) human capital shortcomings; (ii) absence of effective mechanisms (farm banks, microfinance) for financing agricultural investment and activity; and as a corollary, (iii) the weakness of farming technology and production methods.

389. The land question. Promoting investment and modernizing agriculture will also require addressing another essential constraint on production factors – land. Traditional farming is based on communal ownership of the land, organized according to cultural traditions in the country’s various départements. To institute modern and larger scale agriculture, the land regime will have to be adapted to the market economy. In this regard, the current regime has great weaknesses, in particular the difficulties in asserting and securing land title and developing a real land market accessible both to citizens and to foreign investors and farmers. Foreign involvement can not only contribute know-how, raise needed financial resources and inject innovations, but can also open export markets for Congolese products.

390. Market size. On the demand side, the growth of Congolese agriculture may also have been held back by the small size of the country’s population and hence of its domestic market. Experience in Congo and in other countries with narrow domestic markets (Benin, Togo, Gambia, Zimbabwe etc.), however, shows that this constraint has been greatly overestimated. As evidence, staple food crop production has not kept pace with population growth and, as noted earlier, this has left Congo increasingly dependent on food imports. Moreover, this constraint does not seem to affect cash crop production, which in all countries of the region is essentially for export. More significantly, with globalization, the domestic market size constraint is becoming less important, at least on the demand side.

391. The quality of trade policies. The weaknesses in production capacities and trade policies and the lack of competitiveness in agriculture are much more important for the sector’s growth than is the size of the domestic market. Prospects for exports to the subregion, particularly to the DRC, but also to the rest of the world, are highly favorable. To take advantage of them will require a sound combination of domestic, regional and global trade policies and targeted measures to organize domestic producers, in order to preserve the resources for balanced and sustainable development purposes. Strategies in the agriculture sector are described in chapter 8 of this document.


392. As in the case of crop agriculture, Congo has significant natural advantages in livestock, in particular its vast expanses of pasture land, in their natural state or capable of conversion, most of which is suitable for sheep and goat raising, even if the nutritional quality is limited. Heavy-livestock raising was in fact introduced into Congo in the colonial era. Over the intervening decades, a number of experiments have been attempted, including the successful introduction of new cattle breeds (primarily Lagune and Ndama). On the other hand, small-scale, traditional cattle herding has been virtually snuffed out by the emergence of government-owned ranches that have taken over the best pasture lands and that compete with the output of traditional farmers. With the failure of state-owned ranches and farms, there is now a possibility to revive private cattle raising.

393. Congo also has great potential for the raising of small livestock and poultry, as a family farming pursuit. However, in contrast to countries of the Sahel (e.g. Chad, Cameroon), and other countries that have significant pastoralist populations (such as the Masai in Kenya and Tanzania), Congo has little in the way of an agro-pastoral tradition. Consequently, the development of small-livestock raising will require still greater efforts to arouse the interest of farmers and herders in this subsector and, for small-scale traditional farmers, to modernize their operations and boost their productivity.

394. Congo also has important native fauna reserves that should encourage family-based livestock raising. These include certain poultry species such as quails and guinea fowl, as well as ruminants and rodents such as antelope, aulacodes (cane rats) and hedgehogs, for which the lifecycle and production cycle are now well in hand, thanks to innovations.

395. Compared to these potentials, the livestock sector is still in its infancy in Congo and, like agriculture, its development has been handicapped by capacity and competitiveness problems. In recent years, livestock raising has grown at an average annual rate of 2.8 percent, well below the rate for agricultural output and for the overall non-oil economy. Its contribution to non-oil GDP has consequently been declining steadily, and is well below the sector’s potential.

396. There has however been a sharp increase in domestic demand for livestock products, as indicated by the strong growth in imports per capita. As well, regional demand is booming, especially in the DRC. Congo can benefit, then, from these natural assets to expand domestic production in response to this demand.

397. To this end, the government will have to strengthen the capacity of the working population of the sub-sector and remove the main obstacles concerning the small number of agro-pastoralists. To these factors of production must be added the problem of competitiveness of the economy as a whole which constitutes a cross-cutting prerequisite that must be met if Congolese products are to be made more attractive in comparison to imports.


398. In this area, Congo again has some undeniable but under-exploited assets: it has a coastline of 170 km and a dense continental hydrographic network with two main river basins: the Congo and its tributaries (Oubangui, Sangha, Likouala-Mossaka, Alima, etc) and the Kouilou-Niari and its tributaries (Loutété, Bouenza, Loudima, Louvissi kibaka). These two watersheds are rich in fishery resources. As an indication, the potential annual catch is estimated at 100,000 tons of freshwater fish and 80,000 tons of marine fish. However, the marine fishery has shrunk significantly, while the freshwater fishery is still marking time, with output of barely 15,000 tons a year.

399. Despite these assets, fishing is still underexploited in Congo and its contribution to national wealth falls far short of its potential. As an indication, the sector’s average annual contribution to growth has been barely 1 percent, even during the period 2000-2010. By comparison with other coastal countries, the Congolese fishery contributes little either to GDP or to exports. This week contribution can be explained by:

  • Insufficient understanding of the available fishery resources and lack of control over their exploitation, especially in inland waters.

  • Lack of support facilities for fish harvesters, in terms of training in enhanced fishing techniques and methods (processing and conservation techniques are often outdated).

  • Inadequate facilities for conservation and processing of fishery products.

  • Obsolete equipment, processing plants and boats.

  • Inadequate fish landing and transport facilities.

Apart from these major difficulties, fishing zones have receded because of oil operations in maritime waters, the invasion of vegetation in water bodies, the silting of the Congo River and its tributaries, and the presence of floating logs that make it impossible for small vessels to navigate in forested areas.

Aquaculture and fish farming

400. When it comes to aquaculture and fish farming, the basins of the Congo and Kouilou-Niari rivers represent a major strength for the development of aquaculture and pisciculture activities. Indeed, the Congo has some rare and valuable natural species that could be raised for export. These include species such as missala (crustacean), malangwa, djombo, and ngolo (clarias, catfish), tilapia (nilotica), the Ngoki (crocodile) the skin of which is used in the leather and footwear industry. Market prospects are enticing given the sustained gowth of the domestic and regional markets, as indicated by the growth in the consumption and imports of fishing products.

401. Aquaculture is still confined to family-operated and traditional pond-based fish farming, and is limited by the lack of appropriate inputs (fry of good stock, proper feed, fertility agents etc.). This situation explains in part the poor yields obtained from fish farming. To this may be added the almost complete lack of extension agents as well as of means for the local delivery of technical support.

402. Significant measures are planned to boost capacities. These include the establishment of support infrastructure in the Lower Alima basin, for the development of aquaculture and fish farming. In terms of human resources, some départements (Pool, Lékoumou, Niari, the Plateaux, Cuvette and Kouilou) have know-how available for fish farming in ponds and in still river waters (“oxbows”).

403. From this viewpoint, boosting the sector will require coordinated action programs in two areas: (i) building the capacity of operators and strengthening key factors, in particular infrastructure and human resources, and (ii) improving the overall competitiveness of the economy, without which Congolese products will not be able to compete with imports.


404. The low level of development of farming, livestock and fishing activities has also left the food and agri-food industry in the doldrums. The agri-food industry amounts at present to a single cane sugar production facility, one wheat flour mill, and some beverage producers (mineral water, beer and soft drinks). Even in these cases, the industries have had little in the way of spillover effects upstream, and many inputs are imported (e.g. wheat for flour milling, maize, malt and hops).

405. There is much room for growth in this sector, then, provided it is accompanied by an adequate supply of key inputs. As well, export prospects are attractive, particularly for vegetable oils (palm oil, peanut oil clock), soap making and newly developed lines to satisfy the growing international market for beauty products and bioenergy.

Forestry and the wood industry

406. Congo abounds in forestry resources. Exploitation began long ago in the southwestern part of the country (Kouilou) and expanded into the Niair forest and thence into the Chaillu Mountains before reaching into the northern part of the country. Congo has some 22.5 million hectares of forest and a commercially exploitable wood potential of 340 million m3. Forest production thus became the country’s main economic activity, geared essentially to export, and the one with the highest rate of growth. From 1946 to 1959, exports of raw logs rose from 5,660 tons to 197,000 tons, including 140,000 tons of limba (shinglewood), and lumber exports increased from 5,570 tons to 12,720 tons, to which may be added 3,740 tons of veneer. Public investments have included prospecting work as well as activities to enrich the natural forest and create artificial stands: for example, 5,500 ha of limba in Mayombe, 400 ha of eucalyptus near Pointe-Noire.

407. Given the proven potential, the level of output could reach 2 million m3 without harming the ecological balance. Despite uncertain economic conditions, Congolese production has been growing steadily, particularly for raw logs. The same is true for wood processing. However, the country is still far from achieving its ambitions, in terms of exploitation and in terms of the provision in the forestry code that calls for processing 85 percent of wood production locally.

408. Despite the disruptions mentioned above, the forestry industry remains one of the biggest employers in the economy. Having been displaced by oil since 1974, wood is still the country’s second largest export resource. The industry has grown steadily in 2009-2010 after considerable contraction in 2008 due to the global economic crisis and the collapse of wood prices.

409. As in Cameroon and Gabon, the “wood industry” can contribute substantially to economic growth, to job creation as well as to government revenues. The government has already launched a program to increase domestic wood processing in order to derive greater value added. Targeted actions are already under way to build capacities in the sector and to encourage investors in this sector.

Market services

410. Congo has great potential to develop a transit economy because of its geographic position in the heart of central Africa. Congo has a proven track record in providing services to neighboring countries both for imports and for export of their products. Despite the slowdown caused by structural problems and the crises described earlier, Congo remains a country of transit and it has the principal “economic entry and exit gateway” in central Africa, namely the Port Autonome de Pointe-Noire (PAPN).

411. Transport. Congo has a natural transport corridor to the countries of central Africa. This corridor consists of the Port of Pointe-Noire, the railway, the Port of Brazzaville and the secondary ports. However, problems with the Congo-Ocean Railway (CFCO) and navigation constraints on the Congo River during certain periods of the year (low water levels) have frustrated development of Congo’s capacities to provide transit services to countries of the region.

412. Significant efforts have been made in recent years, or are now underway, to address this situation. These include rehabilitation of the railway (under way), construction of the Pointe-Noire-Brazzaville Highway (under way), expansion and modernization of the Pointe-Noire port (under way), in particular its container terminal, planned rehabilitation of the Port of Brazzaville and the secondary ports, as well as completion of the “bridge-road-rail” project between Brazzaville and Kinshasa.

413. Completion of these major projects is bound to allow Congo to take full advantage of its potential as a “corridor country”, thereby improving interconnection of the economies of the subregion to the rest of the world.

414. Tourism. Congo has great potential for ecological tourism, but that potential has been underexploited. Congo is in fact a vast and relatively virgin natural garden situated in the heart of the Congo basin, commonly known as the “African Amazon” because of the wealth of its biodiversity. Its physical relief and its climate offer different ecological zones, the flora and fauna of which constitute an exceptional tourism resource. Its variety of watercourses, consisting of rivers, streams, lakes and lagoons, is one of its most attractive tourist assets. In particular, the equator-straddling city of Makoua symbolizes Congo’s location in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

415. A number of natural sites have the potential to attract tourists. The principal ones are: (i) the Loufoulakari, Minguele and Moukoukoulou waterfalls and the cataracts of the Congo; (ii) the Diosso gorges, the Nkila-Ntari caves, the Inoni cliffs and the “holy hand” of Sembé; (iii) the mangroves of Conkouati, Lake Nanga and the “Blue Lake” of Louvakou; (iv) the biosphere of Dimoneka; and (v) the Léfini and Nouabalé Ndoki reserves and the Odzala National Park.

416. Congo has a great diversity of peoples and of cultural, linguistic and artistic riches, on which the country could build a “high-end” tourism business that would enhance the sector’s contribution to national income, to foreign currency generation, and to job creation.

417. The tourism sector’s contribution to growth is still very low in comparison to its potential. This poor performance reflects the shortage of capacities, and in particular the lack of development of tourist sites and circuits and the shortage of hospitality facilities, especially hotels. Here again, competitiveness is a problem, for transportation costs on the Congo River are still very high for a country that aspires to become a tourist destination. The government is well aware of the problem and intends to correct it in the context of this plan.

418. Financial services. Congo is currently experiencing a growth spurt in its banking sector. After the crisis of the 1990s, the Congolese banking sector underwent a cleanup, and several international banks moved in. However, the level of use of banking services in financing the economy, remains poor. Although credit institutions are awash in liquidity, they extend little credit to the private sector. The deepening and diversification of banking structures and products is one of main conditions for the sustainable funding of the development and modernization strategy of society.

419. The microfinance industry has been performing well, and savings and loan activities are growing strongly. This is very encouraging from the viewpoint of poverty reduction, for such services are used for the most part by poor people. At the same time, the insurance industry is undergoing a profound restructuring with the reorganization of the public operator – Assurances et Réassurances du Congo (ARC) – and stepped-up oversight of the industry.

420. Yet development of the financial market is still awaiting the effective start-up of the Central Africa Stock Exchange (BVMAC). That exchange is to serve the six countries of CEMAC and is intended to facilitate investment financing for private operators. Its failure to commence trading is holding back the efforts of the country and of the financial system to achieve the diversification of long-term financing instruments for private investment.

Recent Macroeconomic Performance: 2008-2011
The Government’s Economic Program

421. The macroeconomic performance of recent years has been particularly encouraging, since introduction of the Government’s economic program supported by the IMF (December 2004) and the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS, 2008-2010). Implementation of the PRS made Congo eligible for cancellation of nearly US$3.5 billion in debts, representing 67.4 percent of the country’s total debt stock and 32.4 percent of its GDP.

Figure 4.
Figure 4.

Congo In International Comparison: Macroeconomic Policy

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2012, 242; 10.5089/9781475505986.002.A001

Source: ST/DSCERTP and INT/DEC, World Bank Data, World Development Indicators <>
Growth and competitiveness

422. The oil sector remains the driver of economic growth in the Congo. Its positive performance during recent years is due to the favorable trend in global crude oil prices, the increase in exploitation at the M’boundi, Nkossa Sud, Kombi, Likalala, Loango and Zatchi fields and the operationalization of the Moho Bilondo field. During the period 2008-2011, the Congo experienced annual average growth close on 7,0% drawn from both the oil sector (9,6%) and the non-oil sector, whose contribution is on the rise (4,0% in 2009, 6,4% in 2010 and 8,0% in 2011) and this, despite the global economic crisis which shook the wood industry (2008-2009).

The oil sector’s performance is due to rising oil output, which has been driven by the favorable trend in prices and good success in exploiting the fields (M’boundi, Nkossa Sud, Kombi, Likalala, Loango and Zatchi). With the coming on stream off the Moho Bilondo field, oil output rose from 15.3 million tons in 2007 to 15.7 million tons in 2011, for an average annual growth rate of 2.6 percent.

Table 5.

GDP Performance, 2008-2011

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Source: CPCMB

423. The performance of the non-oil sector has been particularly encouraging with respect to prospects for diversification. In fact, after a downturn in 2009 in the wake of the global crisis, which affected forestry output in particular (-42 percent), the non-oil sector saw growth accelerate to 4 percent in 2009, and to nearly 8 percent in 2011, according to recent estimates. Besides commerce and services, we note a sustained buoyancy in tradable goods, notably agriculture (7, percent), manufacturing (7.0 percent) and transport and commerce (6.0 percent).

Figure 5.
Figure 5.

Change In GDP (Percentages)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2012, 242; 10.5089/9781475505986.002.A001

Source: CPCMB

424. Exports. The behavior of exports and the structure of Congo’s international trade follow production trends and seemed to confirm the gains in productivity. While oil remains the dominant sector, other tradable goods sectors have seen still sharper growth in exports as a share of growth in output, signaling an enhanced propensity in favor of export. This is particularly evident in wood products. Consequently, the share of non-oil exports has been progressing favorably, even if their weight remains low in the total of exports, given the dominance of oil.

Table 6.

Goods Exports 1987-2009

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425. Investment. There was a favorable progression of non-oil investment over the period, consistent with the growth in non-oil output. The non-oil investment rate in Congo rose steadily over the period (10.8 percent in 2008 and 14.8 percent in 2011). The intersection of this curve with that of non-oil GDP growth indicates a recovery of investment productivity in the non-oil sector.

426. More interestingly, foreign investment in the non-oil sector has risen considerably over the period. An analysis of the balance of payments confirms that foreign investment in the non-oil sector rose sharply in recent years (by an annual average of 35 percent between 2008 and 2011). This finding corroborates the modest improvement in the business climate, reflecting the courageous initiatives taken by the government. These positive developments have encouraged the government to persevere on this path and to redouble its efforts to strengthen the business environment, in order to stimulate investment for transforming the Congolese economy.


427. The inflationary pressures recorded at the beginning of 2009, after the 2008 explosion in food and oil prices, slowed considerably in 2010. This favorable trend can be seen in the deceleration of the consumer price index (CPI), which rose at an annual average of 3 percent between 2008 and 2010.

428. The decline in world food prices contributed to this slowing of inflation. Also observable are the competitiveness effects resulting from structural reforms and the reinforcement of infrastructure services. The downward trend in inflation can in fact be correlated with the substantial reduction in business and transaction costs resulting from improvements in the supply routes for food products in urban centers, and the progress made in the delivery of electricity. With intensification of these reforms and improvement in the quality of infrastructure services (transport and energy), thanks in particular to rehabilitation of the power distribution networks and transport infrastructure, the downward trend in inflation should continue.

429. The fiscal and monetary prudence exhibited by the government in the context of its economic program should help contain inflation at around 3 percent, consistent with the CEMAC zone convergence criteria. On the fiscal and monetary side, the government continues to pay close attention to the rate of growth of spending and credit. This prudence is essential to avoid inflationary tensions that could result from sharp growth in domestic demand, given production and import capacities.

430. This policy, which is at once prudent but also accommodating of growth, is evident in the monetary situation. The money supply has grown at a rate proportional to GDP (the ratio remained stable at around 64 percent over the period), while the favorable trend in the government’s debt position has served to free up credit for the private sector. As an indication, credit to the private sector rose at an average pace of 38.8 percent, in correlation with the progress of investment and private-sector activity, although the level still remains low. All told, the government’s pro-growth but prudent fiscal and monetary policies have made it possible to sustain activity and maintain macroeconomic stability.

The public finances

431. Fiscal policy has been geared to restoring balance in the public finances, by stressing improvement in the collection of non-oil revenues and a reduction in the pace of growth of current expenditures. This judicious policy has allowed the government to boost investment spending while continuing to save a portion of oil revenues. The strategic objective is to constitute reserves both for “financial stabilization” needs and for the needs of future generations, recognizing that oil revenues will inevitably decline over the long term.

432. Revenues. Thanks to stepped-up collection efforts and the sound performance of the non-oil sector, government revenues rose strongly at an average annual pace of 25.8 percent over the period 2008-2011. This remarkable performance is due in particular to the solid record with non-oil revenues, which rose by 19.5 percent over the period, increasing their share of GDP from 7.6 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2011, and raising their contribution to government revenues from 14.3 percent to 20.4 percent.

Table 7.

Government Revenues 2008-2011

(as percentage of GDP)

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Source: CPCMB

433. Expenditures. The government has clearly reoriented its fiscal policy so as to reinforce infrastructure, boost competitiveness, and accelerate the transformation of the economy and of growth. To this end, and despite administrative and social pressures, the government has succeeded in containing the rise in current expenditures, while steering them towards growth sectors and social development (health and education). This has freed up fiscal room in favor of capital spending. As table 9 indicates (Public Spending 2008-2011, as percentages of GDP), while these two aggregates have behaved favorably, the share of current spending declined from 17 percent of GDP in 2008 to 10 percent in 2011, while capital expenditure rose from 10 percent to 16 percent over the same period.

Table 8.

Government Expenditure 2001-2011 (Percentages Of Gdp)

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434. On the strength of the policies described above, the government has been able to persevere along the path toward cleaning up the public finances. As an indication, the budgetary balance on a cash basis improved considerably over the period 2008-2011, moving from a deficit of 4.1 percent of GDP in 2008 to a surplus of 15.9 percent in 2010. This surplus should stabilize in 2011 at around 14.3 percent. However, the picture is not the same once oil revenues are isolated. In fact, over the period, the primary balance excluding oil revenues remained structurally in deficit to the tune of around 14 percent of GDP. This poses a challenge to the authorities in terms of the risks to fiscal sustainability and macroeconomic stability over the medium term. These risks could be accentuated with the increase in spending for implementation of the development program. The government is well aware of this challenge and is determined to show the greatest prudence and frugality in its budgetary policy, while ensuring that it remains – in terms of intensity and quality – compatible with Congo’s ambitions as an emerging economy.

Employment: Performances and Challenges


435. The results of the ECOM2 survey point to particularly encouraging trends for employment. Of a workforce that represents 62.2 percent of the total population (4.085 million), 57.9 percent of its members are working and thus generating revenues through their productive activities. The ECOM also shows that, with the steady progress of the economy over the period 2005-2011, the unemployment rate dropped considerably over that time, from 19.4 percent (ECOM1) to 6.9 percent (ECOM2). This improvement can be seen both in rural areas (down from 5.8 percent to 1.7 percent between 2005 and 2011) and in the cities, where the unemployment rate stood at 10.0 percent in 2011.

436. Nevertheless, young people remain particularly hard-hit by unemployment. Youngsters under the age of 15 years account for around 40 percent of the population, and more than two thirds of the population is under 29 years. The results of ECOM2 show that, despite the overall downward trend, people between 15 and 29 years face an especially high unemployment rate of around 12 percent, although it has improved since 2005 (40.0 percent). When “discouraged job seekers” are taken into account, the youth unemployment rate is even higher.

437. An analysis of employment status by sector reveals another cause of concern: many jobs may be precarious or in sectors and occupations where productivity is low. As was the case in 2005, two thirds of the “gainfully occupied” are working for their own account. They are often engaged in informal, precarious and low-productivity activities where pay is low. On the other hand, there are fewer workers in the more stable and relatively higher-paying employment sectors such as the civil service (11.4 percent), small and medium-sized enterprises (7.7 percent) or large private firms (4.8 percent). Agriculture and silviculture employ the highest share of the working population (37.8 percent), followed by wholesale and retail trade (“commerce”, 23.1 percent), and services (10.9 percent). By contrast, the mining and quarrying industry, where the highest paying private jobs are to be found, employs the fewest Congolese workers (0.9 percent). These trends confirm that most jobs are still in low-productivity and therefore low-paying sectors where job insecurity is high. An analysis of employment trends, both in terms of productive sectors offering work and of the people looking for work, provides a closer look at employment, its quality, and its outlook in Congo.

Employment Opportunities
Recent trends

438. The results of the ECOM (2011) confirm those of the survey of urban employment and the informal sector (EESIC, 2009), showing a clear decrease in unemployment across the country, and most notably in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. Over the decade 2000-2009, employment in the modern sector rose steadily overall, from 105,827 jobs to 131,455, for an average annual increase of 2.4 percent, compared to an average annual rate of GDP growth of 4.6 percent. In the non-oil sector, employment rose by 4.1 percent and GDP by 7.0 percent. These trends are encouraging in several respects. They show that output growth has translated into job creation. Just as importantly, the intersection of the two trends reveals that the Congolese economy has seen sharp gains in labor productivity over the period, especially in the non-oil sector. Yet the data do not make it possible to assess the performance of wages and incomes, which is needed to obtain an overview of the scope and quality of the jobs created.

Employment by sector

439. The greatest number of Congolese workers earn their livelihood in agriculture (35.6 percent) or in commerce (20.7 percent), while the proportion of persons working in manufacturing is relatively low (16.3 percent). The ECOM2 indicates that more than two thirds of the workforce (35.6 percent) is engaged in agriculture. Construction, commerce and other services each account for around 20 percent of the working population.

440. In terms of occupational category, persons working for their own account remain the largest group, accounting for 70.1 percent of labor market participants. The proportion of poor workers in this group is also the highest, at 75.2 percent. The prevalence of poverty in this group is correlated to the informal nature of activities.

441. Overall, a large portion of the workforce is engaged in the informal sector, and only 15 percent have formal jobs. This indicates that, despite the encouraging performance of recent years, job insecurity still prevails for a large portion of the population. That finding confirms the need for greater transformation of the economy (supply-side) but also of human resources (demand-side), and for greater attention to the functioning of the labor market.

Job Seekers

442. The ability to find a job depends on a number of socio-demographic characteristics, the most important of which is the level of education. Overall, gender seems relatively unimportant, except in the cities. In fact, there is scarcely any difference in male and female unemployment rates in the economy as a whole (18 percent versus 20.5 percent), but the difference becomes more pronounced in urban areas (14 percent versus 19 percent).

443. Age is a much more important factor, as noted earlier. According to ECOM1 (2005), the unemployment rate exceeds 40 percent for the 15-19 years age group and varies between 20 and 40 percent to the age of 30. These results from 2005 are confirmed by those of 2009, when the unemployment rate in the 15-29 years age bracket in the country’s two biggest cities was 25 percent as compared to 5.4 percent for persons 50 years and older. The ECOM2 2011 confirms these gaps: the 15-29 years unemployment rate dropped to 12 percent (11.7 percent for men and 12.4 percent for women), while the over-50 rate was 3.8 percent for men and 0.6 percent for women.

444. The most interesting finding has to do with the contrasting trends in employment and education levels among young people. The ECOM1 2005 and the EESIC 2009 reveal that youth unemployment rises with the level of education. Young people with no schooling have in fact a lower unemployment rate than those with secondary schooling or higher.

445. This phenomenon lends itself to several interpretations. It is highly likely that the current, predominantly informal structure of the Congolese economy offers more jobs in sectors that require less human capital (in terms of quality), particularly in quasi-informal and SME activities. To the extent that they have higher expectations for wages and working conditions, the more educated jobseekers will have more trouble finding employment. The heavy weight of the informal sector may also have skewed the results. For example, many workers with little or no education may be tempted to leave the labor market to find or develop an informal occupation as small operators or “own-account workers”. Lastly, it may well be that, besides being more demanding, the best-educated individuals have the kind of general training that is ill-suited to pursuing practical activities.

446. These explanations are complementary and they underscore a major source of concern for the economy and the government: the dominance of the informal sector. That dominance means that many workers are engaged in, and unable to escape from, activities where productivity and pay are low and where insecurity and vulnerability are high. Far from abandoning its education and training policy, the government will have to accelerate and intensify its human resource building program to make primary and secondary education universal. It will also have to encourage and facilitate young people’s access to higher education, and strengthen its quality, in order to develop a sizable pool of skilled workers who can absorb new technologies and respond to the demands of Congo’s modernization and industrialization.

The Labor Market and Promotion Policies

447. The formal employment market in Congo is dominated by the public sector, which accounted on average for more than 61 percent of employees over the decade 2000-2009. However, the private sector has been gaining ground (from nearly 20 percent in 2000 to 37 percent in 2009), driven primarily by employment in agro-forestry, mining and telecommunications.

448. Yet the institutional mechanism for matching labor supply and demand needs to be reinforced. The Directorate-General of the Civil Service (DGFP) and the National Employment and Labor Office (ONEMO) are the principal government agencies for labor market facilitation. The Directorate-General of Vocational Training and Employment (DGFQE) supplements the efforts of the other two agencies.

449. According to the latest urban employment survey (EESI 2009), a very low proportion of the unemployed (3.2 percent) makes use of the services of ONEMO to find employment. The great majority rely on social and family networks in their job search. The reasons for this negligible reliance on government agencies are unclear, but the finding must call into question their raison d’être. In effect, if they were seen as particularly useful in the search for employment, there would be no reason why jobseekers and potential employers should not make more use of their services. In the end, it is the relevance and effectiveness of these administrative structures that are called into question.

450. The success rate of job searches through the intermediary of government agencies is low. Over the last five years, only 3 jobseekers in 20 (or 14 percent) were successful. When this low rate is viewed against the significant decline in unemployment, it must be concluded that government intermediation facilities are ineffective. Their poor performance can be attributed to capacity problems (human resources, equipment and databases), as well as the qualification shortcomings of jobseekers, vis-à-vis the demands of employers. The government is aware of these problems and is determined to correct them by, on one hand, boosting the capacities of the intermediation agencies and, on the other hand, strengthening the education system and its capacity to produce workers with the skills needed for the modern economy.

451. Reflecting the dysfunctional and distorted labor market, wages in the private and public sectors are ill-aligned with labor productivity, and this contributes to a mismatch between labor supply and demand. Private-sector wages and salaries are negotiated in collective contracts with firms, and are often determined according to “pay grids” and on the basis of academic qualifications, rather than the worker’s productivity. Consequently, the benchmark minimum wage is not explicitly determined and adjusted on an objective, meaningful basis such as the cost of living index, below which a worker will prefer to stay home rather than go to work (the “reservation wage”). As a result, many potential workers are tempted to leave the labor market and “go it alone” rather than search for a formal job. This is probably the underlying cause of the high rate of “discouraged” job seekers and the gap between the total economically active population and formal employees. It is also one of the causes of the high rate of “underemployment” (more than one worker in two – 52 percent – is working less than 35 hours a week).

452. This problem of alignment persists in the public sector as well. It has been exacerbated by the long-standing freeze on the minimum wage and by decree no. 06/96 of March 6, 1996 blocking the financial benefits attached to promotions in the civil service. As noted earlier, these obstacles have reduced motivational incentives for civil servants, with the consequent depressing effect on their productivity and efficiency.

453. The government’s recent measures will help to address these problems and to bring wages into line with labor productivity. In particular, the government has repealed decree no. 06/96 and has raised the minimum wage from CFAF 50,400 to 60,000 as of January 2011. Overall, wages are trending upwards in both the private and public sectors.

Summary of The Main Constraints on Growth and Job Creation

454. In summary, despite the significant progress in job creation, some major challenges remain. While the unemployment rate has fallen significantly since 2005, it is still high, particularly for young people, and it masks a low labor market participation rate.

455. With a small population, Congo cannot afford to have a poorly educated workforce, much less a low participation rate, especially in the modern sector. The government has recognized these challenges and intends to address them by refining its policies for labor market facilitation and workforce education, and offering incentives to align wages with labor productivity and thereby improve human resource efficiency.

456. At the same time, the government is working to remove various constraints in terms of capacities and competitiveness that are handicapping the productive sectors and preventing them from realizing their potential in light of the country’s assets and the encouraging outlook for the international market. These policies are described in chapters 8 to 12 of this paper.

Chapter 4. Poverty and Social Development

Household Living Conditions

457. The second Household Consumption Survey (ECOM2) makes it possible to appreciate the trend in household living conditions, to estimate economic and social welfare indicators, and to perform extrapolations for the incidence of poverty and human development indicators. The “poverty perception” component of the ECOM reveals how Congolese households themselves experience and understand their living conditions and how they judge the credibility and effectiveness of economic and social development policies and the government’s poverty reduction efforts. These analyses serve to consolidate estimates to date on welfare and poverty trends.

Congolese Household Conditions in 2011

1. The National Center for Statistics and Economic Research (CNSEE) conducted its first nationwide survey of household living conditions in 2005. This was the “Congolese Survey of Households to Evaluate Poverty” (ECOM1 2005). This socioeconomic survey covered 5,256 households distributed across the country, and estimated the monetary poverty rate (those living below the threshold of CFA 544.40 per day and per adult equivalent) at 50.7 percent for the Congolese population as a whole.

2. The second household survey (ECOM2) was launched on February 25, 2011, and covered 10,584 households, again nationwide. The survey results, and in particular the analysis of the “core welfare indicators” module (the CWIQ [French “QUIBB”] questionnaire), produced some indicators of household living conditions in 2011. The 201 CWIQ derived from ECOM2 can be used to draw some comparisons with selected indicators for 2005 produced by ECOM1.

3. Beyond ECOM 1 and 2, other socioeconomic and demographic surveys have been conducted since 2005: (i) the Demographic and Health Survey (EDS, 2005), (ii) the Survey of Seroprevalence and AIDS Indicators (ESISC-1, 2009), (iii) the Survey of Employment and the Informal Sector (EESIC, 2009), and (iv) the Agricultural Survey (2010). These surveys, along with some specific studies, provide an overview of the trends in household living conditions.

Socio-Demographic Trends

458. Population. The cross-results from ECOM2 2011 and ECOM1 2005 indicate that the population grew at an average annual rate of 2.7 percent over the last five years. According to ECOM, the population is estimated at 4,085,422, compared to 3,551,500 in 2005. The gender make-up of the population has scarcely changed in five years: women continue to account for slightly over half (51.7 percent) compared to men (48.3 percent) in 2011.

459. Along with its strong growth, the Congolese population has become more heavily concentrated in urban areas, while its composition has remained the same. Demographic growth is higher in the cities (2.3 percentage points) than in the countryside, where it has declined (-3.8 percent). This has resulted in a greater concentration of population in urban areas (67.1 percent urban versus 32.9 percent rural) in 2011 than was the case in 2005 (58.4 percent versus 41.6 percent). Migration has accelerated over the last five years, confirming the attractiveness of the major cities and the perception that they afford better living conditions and economic performance. In particular, the départements of Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville have proven attractive, receiving 38.5 percent and 28.1 percent of migrants, respectively.

460. The city of Pointe-Noire seems particularly attractive because of its perceived employment opportunities. For example, nearly half (48.7 percent) of migrants looking for work choose Pointe-Noire as their destination, compared to 34.7 percent who choose the political capital of Brazzaville. These tendencies are at once favorable and worrisome.

461. Vigorous growth in the population of these “economic hotspots” is essential for assuring a labor force of the strength and quality needed to support the transformation of the economy. At the same time, this process will demand sustained efforts to develop infrastructure and provide essential social services at a rapid pace.

462. Overall, the Congolese population is young. People under 15 years of age represent around 40 percent of the total, and those between 15 and 29 years, 22.8 percent. This means that nearly two thirds of the population is under 30 years of age. By contrast, persons over 60 years represent only 5.8 percent of the total population.

463. This youthful population is at once a major asset and a cause of concern for Congo. On one hand, it offers a strong workforce which, with greater efforts at education and training, will provide a base of highly productive human resources. On the other hand, youthfulness also means that the government and Congolese society will have to devote considerable efforts to education and training in order to provide opportunities for young people and boost job creation in response to their needs.

464. On this point, the ECOM2 data show some alarming results. They indicate that more than a third of the population (38.4 percent) has not completed primary school, and only 3 percent has gone on to higher education. More detailed analysis will of course be needed to assess the education levels of young people and of the workforce as a whole. Unable to count on a large volume of workers because of the small size of its population, the country needs, in compensation, a highly educated workforce in order to reinforce its human capital. This constitutes a challenge for the modernization of the economy and society.

465. Congolese households. The household is defined as the basic socioeconomic unit within which members pool their resources and together meet their essential food and nonfood needs. Judging from the ECOM surveys, the characteristics of Congolese households have changed little over the last five years. In 2011 as in 2005, (i) around 75 percent of households were headed by men, in both urban and rural settings; (ii) the vast majority of households (79.5) were monogamous unions; (iii) 10.2 percent of household heads were single; and (iv) 6.4 percent were widowed, divorced or separated.

466. These considerations of marital status are important for the stability or vulnerability of the household as the nucleus of social organization, and for the capacity of households to fulfill their social responsibilities in terms of educating their children and maintaining the health of the population. More refined analysis will be needed to determine whether there is a correlation between marital status and socioeconomic welfare or vulnerability indicators. This will allow the authorities to plan appropriate actions through programs for the inclusion of “vulnerable groups”. For the time being, it is important to note that more than a quarter of Congolese households are headed by “own-account workers” (26.6 percent), engaged essentially in rural occupations, and that unemployed household heads account for 16.4 percent of the total, almost as many as are employed in the private sector (16.6 percent).

Table 9.

Main Indicators Of Household Living Conditions

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Household Economic Situation

467. Generally speaking, the ECOM2 results show that the economic situation of Congolese households has improved over the last five years. The improvement can be assessed in terms of the following two dimensions: (i) the growth in net household assets (net of financial liabilities); and (ii) the growth in employment and occupations.

468. Net household assets were strengthened in recent years, with the resulting improvement in “economic capacities” and well-being, and a concomitant decline in economic vulnerability. Household assets comprise all the goods acquired by the household, through purchase, gift or inheritance, excluding the consumption of fungible goods (such as food products). They represent household productive goods (land, house, car, electric and electronic devices such as power generators, computers etc.) as well as leisure goods (houses, cars and household appliances such as television, telecommunication etc.). These assets are, then, good indicators of households’ productive capacity and of their social well-being.

469. The data on these assets, taken together, show an unambiguous improvement in household capacities and economic welfare. In particular, they reveal that: (i) a high percentage of urban households are homeowners (43 percent in 2011 and 47.8 percent in 2005); (ii) a growing proportion of households owns a television set (46.1 percent in 2011 and 20 percent in 2005); and has electric lighting (38.4 percent in 2011 and 28.0 percent in 2005). One particular feature stands out: over this period few households had a car (2.3 percent in 2011 and 1.8 percent in 2005). This meager increase in car ownership reflects, in part, the fact that public transportation is better developed in Congo than in neighboring countries, both in terms of the quality of vehicles and the density and safety of service, which is relatively affordable. This could help explain the low proportion of Congolese households with personal vehicles. More detailed analysis will however be necessary to support this assumption.

470. Employment. Rising household occupation rates confirm the favorable trend in economic capacities and conditions. Employment and, more generally, economic occupation are the most important means by which households can earn the incomes to acquire the goods and services needed for their well-being. However, employment alone does not guarantee economic well-being: the stability and growth of income are just as important for reducing insecurity and vulnerability.

471. The survey results show that, out of the active population of 2,541,132 (62.2 percent of the total population), 57.9 percent are gainfully occupied, and therefore earning income. The unemployment rate fell sharply between 2005 and 2011 from 19.4 percent (ECOM1) to 6.9 percent (ECOM2). This trend is evident both in urban areas (30.2 percent in 2005 and 10 percent in 2011) and in rural areas (6.3 percent in 2005 and 1.7 percent in 2011). At the same time, the rate of underemployment rose steeply, from 9.3 percent in 2005 to 27.8 percent in 2011, reflecting a situation of employment insecurity.

472. Nevertheless, unemployment continues to weigh heavily on the young in particular. According to ECOM, unemployment is highest among the 15-29 year age group, at around 12 percent, although it has improved considerably since 2005 (36.6 percent). Yet when “discouraged” jobseekers are taken into account, the youth unemployment rate is still higher.

473. Just as worrisome, employment status by sector indicates that many jobs are perhaps insecure and in low-productivity sectors. As in 2005, nearly two-thirds (62.9 percent) of the “gainfully occupied” are working for their own account. They are often engaged in informal, precarious and low-productivity activities where pay is low. On the other hand, there are fewer workers in the more stable and relatively higher-paying employment sectors such as large private firms (4.8 percent), the civil service (11.4 percent) and SMEs (7.7 percent). Agriculture and silviculture employ a large share of the working population (37.8 percent), followed by wholesale and retail trade (23.1 percent), and services (10.9 percent). By contrast, the mining and quarrying industry, where the highest paying private jobs are to be found, employs the fewest Congolese workers (0.9 percent). These figures confirm that most jobs are still in low-productivity and therefore low-paying sectors where job insecurity is high.

Household Living Conditions

474. In addition to assets and occupations, another important dimension of household well-being is the living environment and access to essential social services (education, health, housing etc.). In this respect, there has been an improvement in the living conditions and the economic and social well-being of Congolese households.

475. Housing. Housing in Congo is dominated by individual dwellings, and 57.7 percent of households are owner-occupants. This has changed little since 2005, when 64.4 percent of households owned individual homes. The homeownership rate is high, and this might suggest a sharp improvement in living standards. Unfortunately, this indicator is subject to ambiguous interpretations. For example, while rural living standards are, on average, well below those in the cities, the majority of rural households (83.4 percent) are homeowners, while almost half (49.2 percent) of city dwellers live in multiunit apartment buildings. This reflects the higher costs of urban land and construction compared to those in the countryside. In both environments, moreover, many properties are precarious hovels which are indicative of poverty rather than the comfort of a detached dwelling.

476. The trends are encouraging and they confirm the progress in household living standards. For example: (i) more than half of households (57.7 percent) own and inhabit individual homes; (ii) in 2011, compared to 2005, a greater proportion of dwellings were constructed of durable materials (55.0 percent were of cinderblock and bricks, versus 51.2 percent), rather than of clay or stabilized earth; (iii) a slightly higher proportion of households had flush toilets (7.8 percent versus 6.0 percent), and more households had domestic electricity connections (38.0 percent versus 27.7 percent). These indicators confirm the general trend toward a substantial improvement in housing quality and thus in the living environment of Congolese households over the last five years.

477. Water. Access to this precious commodity is still problematic, despite the abundance of the country’s water resources. Much of the population still draws its water from artesian wells (3.3 percent), or relies on rainwater (2.3 percent), watercourses and unimproved sources (17.1 percent). Recent years have seen heavy public investments in production and storage facilities for the urban water supply. However, the SNDE network is limited and aging, with high technical loss rates (30 percent). Rehabilitation and expansion of the network are major challenges for improving access to drinking water in the cities. In the countryside, on the other hand, efforts will be made to equip towns with drinking water systems and to provide improved springs, boreholes and wells for the villages.

478. Hygiene and sanitation. Public sanitary conditions have deteriorated, posing a challenge to the competent authorities, particularly in the management of household wastes. Garbage collection is in fact a problem for households and for local authorities alike. Appropriate facilities for treating solid and liquid wastes do not exist. The percentage of street bins has fallen from 6.1 percent to 1.9 percent. At the same time, the percentage of households dumping garbage in public spaces or in nature has risen by six percentage points (from 53.7 percent of households in 2005 to 60.0 percent in 2011). As well, the use of sanitary facilities remains low. While the number of flush toilets and “improved” WCs has increased, 9 percent of households were not using any sanitary facility in 2011 (compared to 7.8 percent in 2005), and only one household in two (52.4 percent) has an adequate sanitary toilet, with covered latrines predominating (43.8 percent). When it comes to the disposal of wastewater, only 10.6 percent of households use an appropriate system (sewer systems and drains). A large percentage of households dump their waste water into nature, the dooryard or the street (54.4 percent in 2005 versus 83.2 percent in 2011). This testifies to the pressing problems of public sanitation in large cities, and calls for urgent rehabilitation of public trash collection and hygiene services.

479. The results of ECOM2 show great shortcomings in this area. Despite the increased number of flush toilets and improved WCs, many households are not using any sanitary facility: 9.0 percent of households were defecating “out in the open” in 2011, compared to 7.8 percent in 2005. Uncovered latrines are used by 35.7 percent of households. 52.4 percent of households have adequate sanitary facilities, versus 51.9 percent in 2005; covered latrines are still used by 43.8 percent of households. When it comes to the disposal of wastewater, only 10.6 percent of households use an appropriate system (sewer systems and drains). A large percentage of households dump their waste water into nature, the dooryard or the street (54.4 percent in 2005 versus 83.2 percent in 2011). The number of households equipped with cesspools has declined [sic] (4.5 percent in 2005 versus 6.5 percent in 2011).

480. In short, the good results recorded in the socioeconomic areas, particularly with respect to employment and household assets, reveal a positive trend in the economic situation of Congolese households, but one that is offset by alarming tendencies when it comes to water and especially sanitation. These contrasting developments confirm the government’s concerns over water, sanitation and hygiene for the country as a whole. These concerns were the focus of debate in 2011 in preparation for the 2012 budget.

Household Access to Essential Services

481. Since the early years of this century, the government has taken steps to revive the education system and to guarantee primary education for all, in accordance with the MDG. Achievements in this area include:

  • Effectively free access to primary education.

  • Free schoolbooks.

  • The recruitment of more than 6,000 primary school teachers between 2002 and 2008.

  • The revival of adult literacy and informal basic education activities nationwide.

To ensure the effective presence of teachers in the classroom, a census was conducted. The education system can be analyzed by subsector, as described below:

Preschool education. The coverage rate for preschool education is still low (12.3 percent in 2009), despite the rising numbers of preschool pupils, from 5,600 in 1995 to 39,652 and 2009, for an increase of 33.6 percent per year. Preschool education is essentially limited to urban areas and to a certain socioeconomic class. This situation is detrimental to those children who move directly into primary education without preschool experience. Preschool education faces the following problems:

  • The coverage rate of daycare centers and preschool education facilities across the country is low.

  • The model currently used in preschool education centers is inappropriate to the local setting.

  • Coverage is unequal between rural and urban areas.

  • Special early childhood education is only a marginal feature of the education system.

  • Insufficient financial and material resources are devoted to preschool education, a which is not included in free schooling.

  • Teaching equipment and supports are inadequate in nearly all preschool education centers.

  • The objectives, contents and methods of education are not adapted to children’s emotional, psychomotor and intellectual needs or to the socio-cultural environment.

  • The training of private school teachers is inadequate and there is no continuous training for publicly-employed teachers, with the consequent repercussions on learning.

  • No attention is paid to holistic development integrating health, nutrition and education aspects.

  • There is a lack of synergy in the interventions of the ministries involved in early childhood questions.

  • Personnel in charge of early childhood programs have inadequate qualifications.

Primary education

482. The results in primary school have improved in recent years. With the support of technical and financial partners, the government has taken steps to improve access, quality and productivity in the education system. These actions include: (i) free tuition in the public primary and secondary systems; (ii) free schoolbooks; (iii) the recruitment of a significant number of new teachers; (iv) strengthened service capacity through school rehabilitation and construction. The ECOM2 results indicate improved access to education services and better outcomes in terms of enrollment rates and family satisfaction with education services. Between 2005 and 2011, the rate of access to primary school improved perceptibly from 86.6 percent to 91.5 percent. This was accompanied by an almost equivalent increase in the net primary school enrollment rate (from 86.8 percent to 89.3 percent) and in the primary school satisfaction rate (from 27.3 percent to 30.8 percent).

483. However, there are still major shortcomings in the internal efficiency of the Congolese education system. The primary school completion rate is still low (83 percent in 2011), with a dropout rate of 5.7 percent. As well, gender gaps have narrowed: the girls-boys parity index improved from 92.8 percent in 2005 to 97.1 percent in 2011. This shows that, in the education field, gender parity is indeed a reality. Yet regional disparities persist. In 2011 the access rate was considerably lower in rural areas (42.5 percent) than in the cities (84.7 percent), despite lower population numbers and density in the countryside. This combination of a low enrollment rate and a relatively small population points to the need for specific policies for rural areas.

484. Primary education has seen significant qualitative improvement in recent years. The number of schools rose from 1,542 in 2003 to 3,008 in 2007. This trend reflects the emergence of private institutions, of which there were 1,154, including 63 that were conventionné (officially recognized) in 2007, versus 601 in 2003. Enrollment numbers in public education have increased more slowly than in the private sector, although there was a jump in 2009, two years after free tuition was introduced. However, primary education still faces a number of problems:

  • High repeater rates.

  • Excessive reliance on support personnel (i.e. non-teachers) in the classroom because of the recurrent shortage of teachers.

  • High pupil-teacher ratios in large cities.

  • Difficulties in financing education projects.

  • Difficulties of access (supply/demand) in remote areas and among vulnerable population groups.

  • The scarcity of alternative education solutions.

Table 10.

Key Education Indicators

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Source: ECOM 1 and 2, GTDR Education Report

Gross enrollment rate for girls relative to that for boys.

Secondary education

485. The ECOM results confirm strong growth in the secondary enrollment rate. The gross enrollment rate rose from 65.3 percent in 2008 to 84.5 percent in 2011, for a substantial gain of 19.2 percentage points in five years. This gain may in fact be due to the government’s introduction of free tuition in 2007. The rate of access to secondary school increased from 58.5 percent in 2005 to 72.6 percent in 2011.

486. Despite the good performance of recent years, many children are still missing out. Congo compares poorly in this regard with the average for sub-Saharan Africa and for emerging countries: 4.9 percent of school-age children 12 to 18 years were effectively “left behind” in 2011, a considerable number given the small size of the country’s population. The satisfaction rate with secondary education improved from 28.3 percent in 2005 to 33.4 percent in 2011.

487. The total number of students enrolled in the first cycle of secondary school showed a sharp increase between 2005 and 2010. The student body increased by some 8 percent, from around 191,000 to 206,000. Despite this progress, the coverage rate is far from 100 percent. At the lycée level, the student body also grew, but the coverage rate remains low, and there are regional disparities between rural and urban areas (32.8 percent versus 69.7 percent).

488. Compared to other countries, the secondary school enrollment rate is still low, and the government is concerned at the system’s inefficiency: a relatively low rate means a shortage of human capital equipped to absorb new technologies, to boost productivity, and to contribute to modernization of the economy. Given the small size of the country’s population, the government will therefore need to set a target of 100 percent enrollment in primary and secondary school, in order to assure the human capital needed for modernizing society and industrializing the economy, as envisioned in the “Future Path” [“Chemin d’Avenir”]. The government is determined to redouble its efforts to address this challenge over the next five years. The specific objectives, strategies and programs in this field are described in chapter 11 of this paper.

At the present time, secondary education (first and second cycles) faces the following problems:

  • Institutions are run down and obsolete.

  • There is a shortage of classroom space, especially in urban areas.

  • Laboratories are nonexistent or poorly equipped in nearly all institutions, meaning that science instruction is strictly theoretical.

  • There is a shortage of teachers, especially in the sciences.

  • Teachers have inadequate qualifications.

  • There is excessive resort to substitute personnel (supply teachers, volunteers) in the classroom.

Moreover, the Congolese education system must address several other factors that are holding back its development:

  • Under-representation of girls.

  • Unequal distribution of enrollment (which is heavily concentrated in the large cities).

  • A high rate of monetary poverty among households.

  • Shortage of assistance and support services (remedial courses, school transport, etc.).


489. The literacy issue concerns the population 15 years and older. The results of the ECOM surveys show that the literacy rate has increased, rising from 80.4 percent in 2005 to 83 percent in 2011. However, these rates conceal sharp disparities between urban (91.5 percent) and rural areas (63.2 percent). The gender analysis also reveals a disparity in favor of males. The analysis by socioeconomic group finds that public sector employees have higher literacy rates in comparison, for example, to independent agricultural workers and other employees.

Technical education and vocational training

490. As with basic secondary education, technical instruction and vocational training are essential for reinforcing human capital. They supplement basic education, serve the needs of the economy, and prepare students to enter the labor market.

491. In practice, the authorities recognize that efforts to date have been insufficient and the results well below expectations. This sector still suffers from weaknesses in terms of its functioning and its outcomes. The Technical and Vocational Education (TVE) sector has only 74 institutions, more than 60 percent of which are concentrated in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, and 2,344 government-employed teachers. TVE accounts for 10 percent and 37 percent, respectively, of the student body at the collège (junior secondary) and lycée (senior secondary) levels. Because of the system’s limited capacity, TVE is not yet in a position to meet the growing needs of the Congolese economy for skilled workers and qualified technicians.

492. Different kinds of training have been organized to boost the operational capacities of the TVE sector, which is now hiring new teachers and so improving the student/instructor ratio. This subsector betrays a number of shortcomings that are accentuating the difficulties and weaknesses of the system. The most pressing issues are: (i) the insufficient and uneven distribution of facilities; (ii) the uneven distribution of personnel across the country; (iii) the lack of infrastructure and equipment; (iv) an aging teaching body with inadequate refresher training; (v) the weakness of the linkages with the workplace and with related sectors and institutions in other countries; (vi) training that is inappropriate to real needs; (vii) programs that are poorly designed and often incomplete; (viii) a limited range of training fields and difficulties for graduates in accessing higher education; (ix) certain streams provide training that leads nowhere; and (x) lack of awareness raising about HIV/AIDS and preventive measures.

493. These shortcomings were highlighted in the review of sector strategies and programs in the PRSP 1 completion report. The authorities have taken due note of them and intend to redouble their efforts to strengthen the vocational education system, its intake capacities and its outcomes. This is regarded as an imperative, for the country requires stronger human capital to pursue its objectives of economic modernization and industrialization as called for in the Chemin d’Avenir.

Higher education

494. The government has taken steps to expand the capacity to offer higher education and to improve its quality and performance. To overcome the capacity limitations of the Marien Ngouabi University, the higher education sector has been opened to private interests: as a result, several institutions have been created, and some have been officially recognized. Recent developments include the following: (i) application of programs under the LMD (licence-master-doctorat) system; (ii) supervision and inspection of officially recognized private higher education institutions; (iii) redefinition of the missions of the Marien Ngouabi University as part of the decree reorganizing it; (iv) construction of a new library within the framework of Sino-Congolese cooperation.

495. However, the subsector betrays some shortcomings, notably these: (i) until 2010, private higher education institutions were not officially recognized; (ii) taxes and fees (license fees, flat tax on salaries) for institutions performing a public service are hard to justify; (iii) imports of technical and teaching materials are not exempt from customs duties; (iv) there is no partnership with local businesses to promote on-the-job training; (v) the banking sector is reluctant to finance graduates’ projects.

The Merien Ngouabi University and The Licence Master Doctorat (LMD) System

1. Created by ordonnance 29/71 of December 4, 1971, Marien Ngouabi University initially embraced four institutions. 40 years later, it has 11 institutions, including five faculties, three institutes and three schools. These are the Faculty of Law, Faculty of Economic Sciences, Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Superior Institute of Management, Institute of Rural Development, Superior Institute of Physical and Sports Education, National School of Administration and the Magistracy, National School of Advanced Studies (Ecole nationale supérieure), and National Polytechnic School. At its creation, Marien Ngouabi University had only 3,000 students; today it has more than 20,500. This growth is placing great strains on the institutions’ infrastructure and facilities.

2. Changes in the organization of training in Europe, with introduction of the Licence Master Doctorat (LMD) system, have altered the higher education landscape significantly and have had major repercussions on training systems in CEMAC countries. The main decisions concerning the LMD reform were taken at a conference of rectors in October 2003 in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Three principal points were adopted at that time: (i) to initiate, in 2005 and 2006, reforms to the structural organization of higher education in order to adapt the university curriculum to the LMD system; (ii) to take measures in the course of 2004 to strengthen capacities for regional integration by establishing a network of university and research institutions in the CEMAC zone; and (iii) to seek technical assistance from the European Union for training members of university and research institutions in CEMAC countries in the formulation of projects eligible for the ACP-EU program of cooperation in higher education.

3. It was against this backdrop that the various academic councils of Marien Ngouabi University adopted texts on the teaching organization of university and research establishments and on studies in the LMD system; those texts were to be signed during 2009. However, the organization of training under the LMD system might suggest that the system is merely a pedagogical reform. On the contrary, it is an in-depth and comprehensive reform that also affects the administrative management of Marien Ngouabi University. It entails new demands that, if not handled carefully, will accentuate the problems that the University is experiencing today. (For example, the law faculty has more than 9,000 students, and they must get up at 3 AM in order to secure a seat in the lecture hall. In the faculty of economic sciences, which has around 5,000 students, the first-year courses are given in two shifts).

4. These demands in terms of coaching and guidance may accentuate (i) the time management problem (additional hours, outreach work, vacations etc.) and (ii) the costs of directing research work (dissertation, doctoral thesis). In terms of infrastructure and equipment: (i) the shortage of classrooms and lecture halls; (ii) the shortage of computer equipment; (iii) lack of up-to-date libraries, and (iv) serious computerization problems in various institutions that lack visibility (particularly via the web). Congo must therefore address the challenge of economic diversification and modernization so that Marien Ngouabi University can become part of this globalization of instruction, which demands harmonization and standardization of measures for higher education, research and vocational training.

Health and HIV-AIDS

496. The results of the Household Economic Survey (ECOM) confirm the disappointing trends observed in other health statistics. Substantial efforts were made in connection with Congo’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP-1) and the National Health Development Program (NHDP). During the PRSP-1 period (2008-2010), these programs aimed to reduce infant mortality (from 75 deaths per 1,000 live births to 30 deaths per 1,000 live births), maternal mortality (from 781 to 390 deaths per 100,000 live births) and to fight major endemic diseases—specifically malaria, tuberculosis, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In addition, HIV/AIDS was one of the pillars of PRSP-1.

497. Performance levels are still inadequate. However, we observe that these indicators have improved substantially. Trends, at the same time, seem to be less favorable. In any case, despite the efforts that have been made, health indicators are still cause for concern, particularly as compared with other countries. In fact, we observe even higher levels of maternal and neonatal mortality and lethality levels for malaria.

Table 11.

Key Health Indicators

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Source: Health Demographic Survey (EDS1), Urban Survey on Employment and the Informal Sector (ESIC 1) and Research and Planning Directorate (DEP)/Ministry of Public Health (MSP).

498. This situation has persisted for a number of reasons, such as difficulties in accessing high-quality health care and targeted programs. The infant/juvenile mortality rate (assessed at 117 deaths per 1,000 births—EDS, 2005) may correlate with insufficient immunization coverage. We note that one out of three children does not have access to measles immunization.

499. Nutrition problems are also a major cause of morbidity and high mortality levels. Besides the shortcomings in available energy due to a shortage of food for some, and eating disorders for others, reflected by malnutrition with the resulting worsening in health conditions with the upsurge in emerging disease (AVC (cerebrovascular accident), hypertension, obesity…). In fact, agricultural and fish production are insufficient to achieve public food security, as many cannot afford high-cost imported goods. This factor explains why many poor households, who are unable to cover all of their nutritional requirements, suffer from hunger and various fragile conditions, contributing to the high levels of morbidity and mortality in Congo. Pregnant women, elderly persons, and above all, children are most vulnerable to food insecurity.

500. In fact, national food production is dominated by manioc and tubers, whereas cereals, livestock and oilseed products are largely imported. According to a 2007 FAO study on the food balance sheet in the Congo, average consumption is 2512 Kcal per person per day, but a more thorough analysis of food security and vulnerability (2009/2010) has highlighted the fact that the diet of most households is lacking more in quality than in quantity. A nutritional assessment carried out by the WFPs in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, Likouala and Plateaux, measured the rate of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) at 3,8%, whereas the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM), at 9,5% is lagging in growth at 15,4%. The analysis carried out at the departmental level showed that the departments of Lékoumou, Plateaux and Cuvette are the most vulnerable. The northern part of Pool could also be included here, given its recent past.

501. To reverse this situation, it will be necessary to strenghthen nutritional education slightly. This would take place through, among others, the introduction of nutritional training modules (for mothers, adults and students) on the one part, and the improvement in the living conditions of household (salaries, pensions, bursaries, school canteens, meal vouchers, …).

502. It must be highlighted that performance levels in the health sector are still poor, even though the authorities have redoubled their efforts to achieve their defined goals. The significant growth in resources allocated to the sector bear testimony to this. As an indication, during the past three years, investments in the health sector increased from F CFA 29,8 billion in 2010 to F CFA 47 billion in 2011 respectively, then to F CFA 94 billion in 2012, the “year of health”. But more relevant programmes of better quality will be necessary, as well as greater coherence and diligence in the implementation to reverse the situation.

Improving Performance and Enhancing Productivity in University Hospitals

Source: Technical Secretariat (ST)/DSCERP, and International Development Consulting.

503. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is an ongoing concern. According to the results of the survey on seroprevalence and AIDS indicators (ESIS-C), the situation has improved only slightly as the overall prevalence rate for HIV (both genders combined) changed from 4.2 percent in 2003 to 3.2 percent in 2009, registering a gain of one point. However, we observe some progress in HIV prevalence at the department level. While in 2003 the highest prevalence rate was 9 percent in certain areas, in 2009, the highest rate was 4.8 percent in the region of Lékoumou, 4.6 percent in Pointe-Noire, 4.4 percent in the region of Niari, and 4.0 percent in the region of Sangha. In other areas, the prevalence rate was below 4 percent. With the exception of Brazzaville, we observe higher prevalence rates in areas where substantial levels of economic activity are present, which is indicative of a greater concentration of sex workers. The government should support educational efforts to promote the use of condoms in sexual relations, specifically targeting men. Surveys indicate that more women are now using condoms (an increase from 21 percent in 2003 to 29 percent in 2009). By contrast, fewer men are using condoms (a decline from 42.8 percent to 28 percent).

Figure 6.
Figure 6.

Distribution of Seroprevalence by Department

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2012, 242; 10.5089/9781475505986.002.A001

Source: ESIS 2009
Table 12.

Comparative Statement of Public Efforts in Education and Health

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Source: Permanent Technical Secretariat (STP)/DSCERP, World Bank Data, World Development Indicators (
Scientific research

504. Scientific research is conducted at Université Marien Ngouabi as well as in research and development agencies. The various activities conducted in this connection have produced satisfactory results in the following areas:

  • Forestry: development of subculturing for eucalyptus and afara; creation of high-productivity industrial varieties of high-productivity eucalyptus; creation of clonal plantations;

  • Agriculture: layering and grafting of fruit trees; micropropagation of food and fruit crops; in-vitro preservation of germplasm for food crops; creation of varieties of cassava resistant to bacterial wither;

  • Intellectual property: during the period 2003-2007, 111 applications for protection were submitted to the African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI).

Further, studies conducted on flora and vegetation have made it possible to: (i) establish a catalog of vascular plants assessing flora of Congo at 4,397 species among 198 families and 1,338 genuses; and (ii) create a national herbarium in Brazzaville accommodating nearly 4,500 species.

However, some research on fish in the Congolese continental waters, snakes and amphibians, and mammals is still fragmentary.

505. Congo now has a National Plan for Scientific and Technological Development (PNDST) for 2009-2013, for which the implementation is covered by two coordination and cooperation agencies: a higher council for science and technology and an inter-ministerial council for science and technology.

However, the success of scientific research and higher education in Congo is subject to ongoing constraints, as a result of internal (resources, management, efficiency, etc.), external (sociopolitical problems, support from development partners for which the sector is not a priority), and cross-cutting issues (population explosion, expansion in HIV/AIDS, gender disparities, cultural and socioeconomic constraints, etc.).

506. Where scientific cooperation is concerned, Congo has also benefited from a number of agreements and conventions to stimulate research activities in certain areas and on certain scientific topics.


507. During the period 2005-2010, the Congolese economy registered a sound annual average growth rate of approximately 6 percent. At the same time, while confirming prior estimates, the ECOM 2 Survey confirmed that the Congolese population grew at an annual average of 2.7 percent during the period 2005-2011. If we cross check these two estimates, we note a substantial increase in per-capita income averaging 4.4 percent per annum during the period. This performance places Congo among the highest performing countries in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of growth during the period.

508. While it constitutes the most important factor in poverty reduction, income growth alone is insufficient. The distribution of growth and income by sector, and more generally speaking, trends in economic and social development inequalities are also important factors in the dynamics of poverty. These factors are analyzed in the sections below, following an overview of the scope and recent trends in poverty in Congo.

Table 13.

Demographic Dynamics of Congo, 2005-2007

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Sources: National Center for Statistics and Economic Research (2005 and 2007).
Table 14.

Comparison OF Populations of Young Persons and Adults 2005-2007

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Sources: National Center for Statistics and Economic Research (2005 and 2007).
Scope of Poverty According to Quantitative Estimates

509. The results of ECOM 2, which are in production, will make it possible to assess the incidence of and trends in monetary poverty during the period 2005-2011. However, the results that are now available on trends in household well-being, as analyzed in the preceding sections, can be used as a basis to estimate poverty trends in correlation with trends in household well-being indicators. This micro approach was crossed with a more macro approach in which developments in the monetary poverty rate incidence correlate with average per-capita income and the income distribution variance.

510. If we cross the results from ECOM 2 with the movements in the non-petroleum sector growth rate, we can assess that the rate of monetary poverty has declined substantially during the past five years of sustained reforms. The incidence declined from 50.7 percent of the population in 2005 (ECOM 1) to ** percent in 2011 based on macroeconomic performance and micro trends reported by ECOM 2. Although still provisional, these results are in line with the movements in in household well-being indicators and the favorable performance in the economic growth, employment, and occupation rates.

511. These results show that approximately ** out of ** Congolese nationals were poor in 2011, as opposed to one out of two in 2005. The results in fact show that just under ** percent of the Congolese population lives under the poverty line (CFAF ** per day in 2011), as compared with 50.7 percent in 2005 (CFAF 839 per day in 2005). In other words, approximately ** million out of 4 million Congolese citizens in 2011 registered average annual income (average annual consumption) levels below the national limit of CFAF ** per year.

512. It is quite encouraging to observe the contribution from growth, along with social development, and the substantial reduction in inequalities. If we analyze the breakdown of trends in the poverty rate into the growth and distribution effects, we find that the bulk of the reduction in the poverty incidence (approximately ** points out of a total gain of ** points) can be attributed to sustained growth in average per-capita income (4.4 percent); while the effect of improved income distribution has also come into play (see Table **). These results clearly show that the government’s efforts to sustain growth, diversify the economy, and strengthen the social sector have already led to a significant impact on poverty reduction.

513. In Congo, poverty, which is common to almost all sub-Saharan African countries, is still more severe in rural areas than it is in urban areas. However, poverty reduction seems to be less pronounced in rural areas than in urban areas. Rural and semi-urban areas in fact already registered substantial poor sectors in 2005 (64.8 percent and 67.4 percent, respectively) as compared with the cities of Pointe Noire and Brazzaville (33 percent and 42 percent, respectively). In light of the trends in the household well-being indicators analyzed above, the gap between rural and urban areas can only have persisted or worsened.

514. The key lesson for programs is the persistence of poverty, which is still severe in rural areas. The gap between rural and urban areas has also persisted, as observed in analyzing progress in terms of household well-being, and which is confirmed in the analysis of the poverty incidence, which underscores the increased emphasis the authorities should place on rural development. Quality must be enhanced and execution of rural development programs must be intensified, in economic activities (agriculture, stock breeding, etc.) as well as for infrastructures (rural roads and tracks, water, etc.). The government has clearly acknowledged the foregoing issues and is determined to intensify and optimize its efforts to address rural development. This issue has also been incorporated into the strategy for balanced development.

Household Perceptions of Poverty and its Determinants

515. The quantitative poverty analysis was supplemented with a qualitative analysis to gain an understanding of how households themselves perceive the poverty situation, their assessment of the causes of poverty, and how they evaluate the effects of poverty reduction strategy implementation. A subjective poverty component was incorporated into ECOM 2 to gain an understanding of how households assess their day-to-day living conditions.

516. Poverty “perceived and experienced” by households is still more severe than the poverty “measured” by surveys. In general, most of the Congolese population tend to consider themselves poor in a country they deem to be rich. More importantly, poverty experienced and perceived by households seems to be more severe than poverty observed with quantitative measurements. In other words, households consider themselves to be much poorer than trends in the quantitative indicators would indicate.

517. This mismatch between “experienced reality” and “observed reality” is often indicative of a greater problem of social cohesion: the perception or real situation of substantial economic and social inequalities. In fact, households may often consider themselves to be “more impoverished” than they are in absolute terms because they see other persons who are richer and who are enriching themselves further. In other words, poverty may increase in relative terms while it is in fact on the decline in absolute terms. This situation is often observed in countries registering substantial disparities, particularly in petroleum exporting countries, as shown in the poverty analysis in countries of the subregion (Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, etc.).

518. The Congolese authorities are highly attentive to these mismatches, and are well aware that they can cause social unrest and affect the credibility of poverty reduction and inclusion policies. This could undermine the effectiveness of such policies, which depends greatly on the extent to which the public believes in them, owns them, and works towards their success. Experience in emerging countries confirms that public support for development programs and the change of attitudes from cynicism and defeatism to hope, diligence, and perseverance is prerequisite for social consensus and the success of emergence strategies. The Congolese government therefore intends to intensify its efforts to reduce inequalities and reduce experienced, perceived, and observed poverty.

519. Access to employment and essential services is also a determinant factor in perceived and experienced poverty. These factors can also explain the discrepancy between trends in poverty as observed and experienced by the public. In fact, household income may have registered favorable trends; while the standard of living may have deteriorated at the same time, and while essential services have become less available or accessible. This can also cause a mismatch between “income” poverty and poverty in terms of living conditions.

520. For this reason, poverty analysis must be supplemented with an analysis of the economic and social environment and factors connected with household well-being. In this connection, perceptions confirm the objective trends discussed above. Satisfaction rates have improved substantially in the area of education, although very marginally in health—findings consistent with the objective results. Accordingly, the perception of poverty factors has changed little between the two surveys. In general, the public continues to associate the state of poverty with a number of well-known economic and social problems. According to ECOM 2, the main causes of poverty are still: (i) shortage of employment (91.5 percent in 2011, as against 86.0 percent in 2005); (ii) poor public management (62.9 percent in 2011, as against 49.0 percent), (iii) insufficient income (58.9 percent in 2011, as against 41.0 percent); and (iv) corruption (51.6 percent in 2011, as against 15 percent in 2005). We also observe different forms of socioeconomic marginalization and exclusion. Well-being or poverty performance levels in these other areas are discussed below.

Other Dimensions of Human Development


521. Gender. Although a number of texts have been adopted (the Constitution, Law on Education, Law on Elections, etc.), establishing legal equality between men and women, and while most of these international instruments having the same purpose have been ratified, the situation of women in Congo is still characterized by well-known discrimination at the legal levels (tax law, criminal law, family code, and social and economic rights) to which we can add de facto inequalities (Levirat marriages, widowhood customs, estates, and gender-specific violence). In formal education, despite an egalitarian access policy, we observe disparities between girls and boys that can be explained by a substantial dropout rate for girls from the secondary level, attributable to poor guidance, early pregnancy, and poverty of the family, inter alia.

522. The recent analysis of the situation shows that, in the past few years, Congolese women have fought bravely and tenaciously for their emancipation, in order to enjoy all of their rights. The government has made every effort to involve women fully in the decision-making process. Despite the persistence of some negative trends, gender issues have taken on a truly national dimension.

523. The improvement of the status of women now faces a number of constraints, including: (i) insufficient policy support for gender issues, preventing them from being effectively addressed in all development projects, programs, and policies, despite the 2008 adoption of a national gender policy accompanied by an action plan for 2009-2013; (ii) insufficient representation of women in decision-making circles; (iii) persistence of violence against women, with those responsible going unpunished; (iv) the influence of retrograde customs and practices as women do not understand their rights; and (v) access to and control of resources and means of production.

524. Where women’s participation in decision-making processes is concerned, a decline in the number of seats occupied by women in the national parliament was observed: the proportion of seats occupied by women has declined from 12 percent in 2005 to 8.6 percent in 2009 and to 6 percent in the current parliament. A study on the status of the representation of women in other institutions in the republic conducted in 2008 indicates that five women out of 39 (12.8 percent) are in government, four out of 21 (9.5 percent) serve in the Supreme Court, six out of 36 (16.7 percent) can be found in the High Court of Justice, and one out of nine (11.1 percent) serves in the Constitutional Court; while in the departmental and municipal councils, representation for women is estimated at 12 percent.

Table 15.

Key Gender Indicators

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Social Security

525. Social security. The failure of past development policies, armed conflicts, and social disintegration as a result of many breakdowns in the social system (deterioration of practices and customs, social and generational conflicts, etc.) have not only worsened the living conditions for the population, but have also led to a breakdown in social equilibria that had served as a sort of social security system for the most vulnerable groups. The breakdown of this safety net has meant that more of the population is at risk. In addition to the traditional vulnerable groups (orphans, very young mothers, retired persons, unemployed young people, and handicapped persons), other vulnerable groups have appeared as a result of the sociopolitical unrest (disaster victims, displaced persons, and veterans). It was found that national solidarity requirements are insufficiently covered. Solidarity activities are incumbent on the Ministry of Social Affairs, Human Activity, and Solidarity. Social security activities are also carried out by humanitarian associations focusing on children in difficult situations, handicapped persons, the elderly, etc.. Despite the efforts of various institutional players, social security still lacks the features of a comprehensive, coherent system.

526. The national social security system is limited to benefits from the Civil Service Retirement Fund [Caisse de Retraite des Fonctionnaires—CRF] and the National Social Security Fund [Caisse Nationale de Sécurité Sociale—CNSS] covers only 15 percent of the population, excluding, de facto, the majority of the Congolese population, who are operating in the informal or small farming sector. A national social security policy is now being studied with support from agencies in the United Nations system.

527. Insufficient social coverage reflects the absence of a coherent social security system in the country. In fact, the coverage of social protection measures is limited to civil servants and employees in the private sector, despite the drafting and adoption of a framework law overhauling the social security system, which institutes social security entailing a number of components to cover the majority of the population. The number of retired persons in the National Social Security Fund (CNSS) increased from 34,594 persons in 2009 to 35,205 persons in 2010, while the personnel covered by the Civil Service Retirement Fund (CRF) amounted to 18,950 persons in 2010.

528. The current situation reflects the fact that the pay-as-you-go model of one retired person per four wage earners is no longer at financial equilibrium. The current demographic dynamics now require the Congolese economic system to create more formal employment opportunities to ensure that the two retirement funds reach equilibrium among the generations and that they remain sustainable.

529. The inadequacy of the social security system in Congo is illustrated by the existing mechanisms that do not cover all risks of vulnerability and weakness and do not reflect the fact that only a small proportion of the population—in this case, workers in the formal sector, is covered. However, the government intends to pursue its efforts, above all, to promote women and other vulnerable groups in keeping with its vision of inclusive development.

530. As a result of the absence of a national policy for families, the latter face numerous problems of housing, food, education, health, and transportation, in particular. The situation of children is of particular concern as described by the indicators presented in the areas of health, nutrition, and education. We note, however, that some progress, including the following, has been made:

  • - Measures to provide free benefits (school fees, malaria treatment for children 0-15 years of age, identification of women considered to be suffering from obstetric fistulas, socioeconomic reintegration of women who have been cured of this condition, and Cesarean procedures);

  • - The transportation allowance of CFAF 10,000 for civil servants and the 10 percent increase in the minimum wage paid to government employees, from CFAF 64,000 to CFAF 70,000;

  • - The increase of more than 100 percent in family benefits paid monthly by the state for the children of civil servants. The benefits were increased in 2011 from CFAF 1,200 to CFAF 2,000 and have now been increased to CFAF 5,000 per child per month.

  • - The 50 percent increase in stipends.

During 2009-2010, the government also undertook the care of 22,106 orphans and other vulnerable children, reintegration of 300 street children, and school enrollment for 411 children.

531. Where handicapped persons are concerned, following the preparation of the national action plan for the decade of handicapped persons, the government undertook care for 1,600 handicapped persons during 2009 and 2010.

532. For indigenous people, the government enrolled more than 4,011 children during 2009 and 2010 and 4,864 benefited from other programs during the same period. The government also promulgated Law 5/2011 on protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples (civil, political, social, cultural, and ownership rights).

533. Where women’s issues are concerned, women occupy a central place in social organization and play a critical role in the balance of the family and in society. They constitute the cement that holds the family unit together. Women represent more than half of the population of Congo (51.4 percent according to the ECOM 2 survey). In rural areas, women play an active role in production (58.3 percent). Their activities in rural and urban areas contribute directly to food security. Women are particularly involved in social and family life (basic education, health, child assistance, etc.). This position, however, is not reflected in economic status or in the political status of women within Congolese society. Of course, major efforts have been made in basic education, where Congo has to all intents and purposes achieved parity, although discrepancies do remain: (i) in economic affairs: access to land and financial resources; and (ii) in political affairs: insufficient representation in government, constitutional institutions, among elected officials, in decision-making circles in both the public and private sectors, etc.

534. Society and the Congolese government are increasingly aware of these gaps, which, if they remain, stand to limit Congo’s capacity to promote inclusive development commensurate with its human potential and true shared prosperity. For this reason, the government decided to place further emphasis on women, children, and the family in its development program.

Congo Addressing the Challenge of the Millennium Development Goals

535. During the period 2008-2010, Congo registered sound average annual growth levels of 7.4 percent. This average level is truly important, in comparison with the data from other petroleum producing and exporting countries in the Sub-Saharan African subregion, not including Nigeria, in positively influencing developments in household living conditions in Congo and therefore in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

536. MDG 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. According to the results of the ECOM 1 survey (2005) and the World Health Organization Statistical Report (CNSEE, 2010), the proportion of the poor population declined by six points (from 50.7 percent to 44.0 percent) between 2005 and 2009, equivalent to an average decline of 1.7 points per annum. At this rate, the goal of 35 percent by 2015 is achievable. Where food poverty is concerned, the data indicate that the proportion of children under five years of age suffering from hunger (insufficient weight) at the national level declined from 14.4 percent in 2005 to 10.64 percent in 2009, equivalent to an average progress rate of approximately one point per annum. At this rate, the goal of 7.8 percent is achievable. With intensified efforts and more efficient program implementation, the outlook for reaching the goals for extreme poverty and hunger is encouraging.

537. MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education. According to the ECOM 1 and 2 surveys, the net primary school enrollment rate increased from 86.8 percent in 2005 to 89.3 percent in 2011, equivalent to an average annual progress rate of 0.5 points. This rate is insufficient to reach the universal school enrollment goal (100 percent) by 2015. The adult literacy rate (for persons 15-24 years of age) has improved substantially from 80.4 percent in 2005 to 83 percent in 2011, equivalent to an average annual progress rate of 0.4 points. This rate is insufficient to reach the goal by 2015. The government is determined to intensify the efforts and efficacy of program implementation to restore Congo to the path to achieving the objective of universal school enrollment and eradicating illiteracy.

538. MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women. Trends in the indicators in respect of the adopted goals show that the situation of women has improved, particularly in primary education, where the ratio of girls to boys increased from 0.93 in 2005 to 0.97 in 2011, equivalent to an average annual gain of 0.04 points. At this rate, the goal of 1 is achievable by 2015. Where economic activity is concerned, there are no reliable statistics available describing the labor force participation rate (employees) for women in the non-agricultural sector. In terms of political representation for women, the presence of women in the government and republican institutions is still insufficient. Women now represent only 8.6 percent of parliament.

539. MDG 4: Reduce child mortality. The child mortality rate in the Republic of Congo increased from 117 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 118 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2009. This rate is to all intents and purposes constant, and at this rate, the target of 55 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2015 cannot be achieved. Similarly, the neo-natal mortality rate in the Republic of Congo increased from 75 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 76 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2009. This increase is sufficient indication that the goal of 33 deaths per 1,000 live births will not be reached by 2015. In this connection, the government intends to take action to improve accessibility of health services and the quality of health care for children.

540. MDG 5: Improve maternal health. Between 2005 and 2008, maternal mortality decreased from 781 deaths per 100,000 live births to 740 deaths per 100,000 live births, equivalent to an average reduction of 14 points per annum. At this rate, the target of 390 deaths per 100,000 live births will be difficult to achieve by 2015. In addition to the steps taken, particularly the provision of free Caesarian procedures, the government intends to intensify its activities to improve maternal mortality rates to reverse the trend. However, it is quite possible to reach levels close to the target of 100 percent by 2015 for this indicator. The mortality rate indicators contrast with those for births assisted by qualified personnel (86 percent in 2005 and 91.6 percent in 2009) characterized by a gain of 1.4 points per annum. At this rate, the goal of 100 percent is achievable.

541. MDG 6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. The survey on seroprevalence and AIDS indicators in 2009 revealed that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is 3.2 percent at the national level, as against 4.2 percent in 2003, equivalent to an average decline of 0.17 points per annum. At this rate, the established goal of 2 percent by 2015 is not achievable. We also note that women (4.1 percent) are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS than men (2.1 percent) in the 15-49 year age bracket. The incidence is also higher in urban areas than in rural areas, respectively with 3.3 percent as against 2.8 percent. Higher prevalence rates have been detected in the second poorest quintile (3.7 percent) and in the fifth richest quintile (3.5 percent). While substantial efforts have been made concerning HIV/AIDS, achievement of the MDGs by 2015 will be adversely affected by the lack of indicators describing coverage of persons living with HIV and malaria.

542. MDG 7: Ensure environmental sustainability. The government is implementing an active policy for the environment. Areas protected to conserve the environment represent more than one tenth of the national area (11 percent in 2010). The target of 70 percent of forest areas by 2015 is potentially achievable in light of the percentage of forest areas, i.e., 65 percent in 2008, as against 65.1 percent in 1990 and 64.6 percent in 2002. The proportion of the population using an improved source of drinking water is rising daily. However, there is still much scope for further efforts as the proportion of the population having access to drinking water, although clearly on the rise, harbors local disparities indicating a bias against rural areas. Negative trends have been observed in the proportion of the population using improved sanitary facilities.

543. MDG 8: Develop a global partnership for development. The plan to achieve the MDGs shows that tremendous financial resources are required to reach the MDGs. Domestic financing will be insufficient, and support in the form of external aid will be required. Substantially more budget appropriations will be required for the social sectors. The partnership to be implemented aims to:

  • – control and reduce the unemployment rate among young persons, particularly in urban centers,

  • – align revenue with the cost of living

  • – to provide the least favored sectors with the essential medicines they require

  • – to reduce inequalities between men and women by promoting strategies for economic empowerment of women,

  • – to expand the use of information and communication technologies, and to improve living conditions.

Chapter 5: Basic Infrastructures

544. Access to high-quality infrastructure services is more than an indicator of economic development and well-being—it is also a key factor in economic modernization. It is both a goal in itself and a means to achieve shared prosperity and growth.

545. In fact, road, energy, water, and telecommunication infrastructures, and road access in general are key factors that support an improved quality of life. Such services are also essential inputs in production, i.e., cost components of transactions, production, and distribution that determine the competitiveness of the economic area. They also enable transactors to interconnect with domestic, regional, and international markets, and pockets of poverty to be opened up to the outside world. Accordingly, these are important factors in helping to bring about shared growth and poverty reduction.

Transportation Infrastructures And Public Works

546. Economic transformation to promote industries or services requires even further infrastructure services, as competitiveness in industry is even more sensitive to transaction costs than in the primary sector, and therefore to the quality and cost of infrastructure services. For this reason, the government has made the strengthening of infrastructures one of the pillars of its priority investment program.

Roads And Road Transportation

547. The Congolese road system comprises 20,925 kilometers of roads, most of which are in substantially poor repair, while less than 10 percent (1,976 kilometers) are asphalted, including urban roadways. Since the 2000s, the Congolese government has stepped up its programs to asphalt the roads and to rehabilitate the road system. These efforts have been intensified during the past three years, with encouraging results. Many asphalting programs are also now in progress (approximately 1,500 km).

548. Despite the efforts that have been made, substantial challenges remain to be met in the modernization of the overall road system, owing to the: (i) scope of deterioration; (ii) shortage of road maintenance; (iii) absence of structured road transportation companies; (iv) inadequacy of technical vehicle inspection organizations; and (v) insufficiency of road administration capacities.

549. Roads. To recover its delay in the development of its road system, the government has intensified its programs to asphalt roads and to rehabilitate the system, since the 2000s. The development and asphalting program for the road system has already made it possible to (i) asphalt more than 100 kilometers, including road sections between Bouansa and Mouyondzi and Inoni Plateau-Imboulou Dam; (ii) to build more than 150 linear meters of bridges (bridge over the Vouma River at Abeya on National Route 2 (Obouya-Owando); bridge over the Loémé River on the Pointe-Noire-Nzassi route; and (iii) development of roadways for several cities: Brazzaville, Makoua, Ewo, Owando, and Ouesso. The rehabilitation program involves asphalted and unpaved roads covering more than 1,000 kilometers, nearly 400 of which have been completed on the routes of Owando-Manga; Botanga-Niangué-Malala; Mapati-Zanaga; Dolisie-Londéla-Kayes; and Dongou-Boucy-Boucy.

550. Many projects are still in progress. In the asphalting program, nearly 1,500 kilometers are under construction on the following major routes: Obouya-Boundji-Okoyo-Border with Gabon; Owando-Makoua-Ouesso-Border with Cameroun; Pointe-Noire-Brazzaville; Makoua-Etoumbi; Sibiti-Mapati-Ibé (Zanaga); Boundji-Ewo; Oyo-Tchikapika-Tongo; and Bouansa-Mouyondzi. The same is true for the rehabilitation program in which the works are continuing primarily on the following sections: Ewo-Okoyo; Ewo-Palabaka; Etoumbi-Mbomo; Etoumbi-Kellé; Owando-Ngoko-Kenvouomo; Talas-Mbomo; Poueret-Mbomo-Katsoko-Isseyi-Okona; Issabi-Aboundji-Engwala; and Ingoumina-Kebarra.

551. Ultrasonic testing operations have been launched on the bridge over the Kouilou River with a view to its rehabilitation, along with feasibility studies for the construction of the road-rail bridge over the Congo River between Brazzaville and Kinshasa. Last, work in progress under the road system development program focuses on the cities of Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, Dolisie, Impfondo, Mossendjo, Nkayi, Owando, Oyo, and Ouesso.

552. While the foregoing progress is important in many ways, the government should intensify its efforts to make up for Congo’s delays by strengthening the country’s transportation infrastructures, and roads in particular, to reflect the country’s modernization and industrialization requirements. For roads, this effort entails (i) continuing and completing the projects in progress, while bearing in mind that maintaining and protecting the country’s existing road facilities is of paramount importance.

553. In addition to the investments made in developing the road system, a number of road transportation facilitation infrastructures have been established, specifically signing and rehabilitation works to upgrade the bus stations.

554. By contrast, despite these efforts, much remains to be done in the area of road transportation regulation. Specifically, substantial upgrading efforts are required to keep Congo abreast of the new challenges involving climate change, road safety, and enhanced security for road transportation documentation in connection with the subregional integration process.

Other Means Of Transportation: Rail, Air, River, And Maritime

Rail transportation

555. The government has made a substantial effort to strengthen the rail transportation infrastructures. Specifically, the rehabilitation and equipment program for the Congolese railway company, Chemin de Fer Congo Océan (CFCO), launched in 2007, continues to produce tangible results. However, irregular traffic patterns and network service levels make it impossible to ensure optimal operating conditions. The reasons for these failures are related to the following, inter alia: (i) ageing equipment and staff of the CFCO; and (ii) insufficient transportation and hauling equipment.

556. Substantial effort have been made in the area of infrastructures. The CFCO rehabilitation and equipment program launched in 2007 has already produced visible results: the rehabilitation of seven CC500 locomotives; rehabilitation of six BB700 locomotives; the purchase of four new locomotives; treatment of 27 specific points on the overall rail system, and construction of a bypass to avoid flood zones in the Kiélé area. However, the level of service on the network still does not provide passenger transportation under optimal safety or comfort. The average speed of passenger trains is now estimated at 34 kilometers per hour as a result of the constant risk of derailments. Making the railroad system safe for passengers will continue to be an important challenge for the government in the forthcoming years.

Air transportation

557. Congo has made a significant step forward in modernizing the Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire international airports as a result of substantial rehabilitation and expansion investments. Through this support, the country’s two main cities have been equipped with airport infrastructures, making them into regional hubs. The strengthening of airport infrastructures has also been accompanied with major operational changes with the issue of concessions for the Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, and Ollombo airports. The challenge will now be to maintain these new facilities (infrastructures and equipment) and to optimize their profitability, so that they can serve as true transit platforms for all countries in the subregion.

558. Despite this progress, there are still major challenges to be met to optimize the installed capacities. Although the attendance rate for these airports is still low during this initial period, in light of maintenance costs, the development dynamics that will be launched with the creation of Special Economic Zones, industrial areas, and tourism in the vicinity should offset the initial costs of construction and maintenance.

River transportation

559. The government has made efforts to enhance navigability of the Congolese waterways. However, these efforts have not been followed up with traffic organization efforts, particularly at the Brazzaville port, where passenger arrival formalities are still lengthy (45 minutes, as opposed to the average of 10 minutes according to international standards). Moreover, navigability problems in certain Congo River tributaries have meant that timber transport has been detoured from northern Congo to Douala, Cameroon. Despite the marking (1,050 kilometers in 2009 and 1,200 kilometers in 2010) and dredging works (210,000 cubic meters in 2009 and 233,000 cubic meters in 2010), insufficient investments to purchase handling equipment and develop docks and warehouses, and insufficient traffic organization are the main constraints in the subsector.

560. The government, however, will intensify its efforts to maintain the riverways and to rehabilitate the river ports. Development of river transportation will also facilitate the flow of wood felled in Northern Congo and will help improve the flow of inland fishing products. In addition to strengthened infrastructures, the government intends to focus more on facilitating trade traffic flows transported by river.

Maritime transportation

561. The Pointe-Noire deepwater port has undergone substantial capacity expansion under the Pointe-Noire Port Authority (PAPN) rehabilitation program. Under this program, three storage warehouses have already been renovated. The major renovation works in progress (access, networks, etc.) will further strengthen this port’s functionality and competitiveness and make it into a regional hub.

562. In the sections below, this performance will be examined for each subsector. Special attention will be given to issues of access for the public and service operators. The implications on transaction costs and the competitiveness of the economic area will also be analyzed. Last, the analysis will examine how Congo has used regional cooperation in this area to benefit from the substantial regional opportunities offered by its position as a corridor and border between west/central and east Africa. Infrastructure development strategies are reviewed in Chapter 11, Section Three of this paper.

Table 16.

Comparative Indicators For Selected Countries – Infrastructure (2009)

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Source: STP/DSCERP, World Bank Data, World Development Indicators, 2010.

Energy, Water, And Sanitation

563. During 2010, the government adopted a strategy and policy paper for the electricity, drinking water, and sanitation sectors. This paper was broken down into two specific programs for each subsector: The National Electricity Program (PNEE) for the electricity subsector and the National Sanitation Program (PNEA) for the water and sanitation subsector.


564. Congo has substantial hydroelectric potential (approximately 14,000 MW as surveyed). This potential, however, is still insufficiently exploited (just under 194 MW) and the country registers a shortage of electricity service. In recent years, the government has devoted substantial resources to absorb the energy production deficit by implementing a number of programs to build capacities for production, transportation, and distribution of electricity. These activities include construction of the gas-fired plants at Ndjeno (50 MW) and Côte Matève (300 MW), rehabilitation of transportation lines and related substations, rehabilitation of the electricity distribution networks for Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, and of the Imboulou hydroelectric plant (120 MW), and using this plant as a base to intensify rural electrification. Commissioning of the Imboulou plant strengthened Brazzaville’s energy capacities and made it possible to connect Ngo, Djambala, Gamboma, Ollombo, Oyo, Boundji, and Owando to the national electricity network.

Accelerated municipalization works have also enabled certain departments (Likouala, Cuvette, and Cuvette Ouest) to establish electricity production and distribution facilities. Despite the efforts that have been made, the subsector still faces the following major challenges:

- To continue the rehabilitation of the Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire distribution systems;

- To continue construction of the energy boulevard intended to connect the northern and southern Congo and neighboring countries;

- To connect all cities located near the boulevard to the national system;

- To build new dams (Sounda, Kouembali, Chollet, Liouesso, etc.) to meet potentially increasing demand;

- To improve the electricity coverage rate in rural areas with appropriate energy (solar, wind, and pico- et micro-hydroelectric plants);

- To optimize management of services in the subsector through management and commercial decisions appropriate for the context.


565. Despite the country’s abundant water resources, the population still registers serious difficulties in accessi