Congo, the Democratic Republic of the - Country Commercial Guide
Democratic Republic of the Congo - Investment Climate Statement
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The U.S. Department of State’s Investment Climate Statements provide information on the business climates of more than 170 economies and are prepared by economic officers stationed in embassies and posts around the world.  They analyze a variety of economies that are or could be markets for U.S. businesses.  The Investment Climate Statements are also references for working with partner governments to create enabling business environments that are not only economically sound, but address issues of labor, human rights, responsible business conduct, and steps taken to combat corruption.  The reports cover topics including Openness to Investment, Legal and Regulatory Systems, Protection of Real and Intellectual Property Rights, Financial Sector, State-Owned Enterprises, Responsible Business Conduct, and Corruption.

Executive Summary

Despite the challenges facing many African countries in 2022, the economy of the DRC was ranked the third fastest growing in Africa.  It maintained the strong momentum of 2021 (6.2 percent GDP growth) and strengthened its resilience with a GDP growth rate of 8.6 percent, compared to 6.1 percent initially projected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  International reserves reached $4.4 billion in 2022, up from $3.2 billion in 2021, a level that the country has never reached in its history.  The national currency remained relatively stable in 2022, with a slight depreciation of 0.70 percent compared to 2021.  These efforts contributed to and resulted in the satisfactory completion of the two reviews (second and third) for the IMF economic program, allowing the DRC to benefit from an estimated $406 million in balance-of-payments disbursements.

Mining investment and exports, supported by improving mineral prices and increasing public investment, remain the main drivers of growth.  The DRC is endowed with exceptional natural resources, including mineral deposits (cobalt, copper, etc.), great hydroelectric potential, vast arable land, tremendous biodiversity, and the second largest tropical forest in the world.  Its strategic location in the heart of Africa makes it a potentially attractive market for U.S. companies.

Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo’s ascension to the presidency in 2019 and his government’s commitment to attracting international, particularly U.S., investment have raised hopes in the business community for greater openness and transparency.  Reflecting progress on human rights, anti-corruption, and labor, the GDRC became eligible for preferential trade preferences under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in January 2021.  Tshisekedi created a Business Climate Unit (CCA), a presidential unit dedicated to addressing issues related to the business climate.

Overall investment is increasing, fueled by multilateral donor funding and private domestic and international financing.  The extractive sector has historically attracted the most foreign investment and continues to attract investor attention as global demand for DRC’s minerals grows.  The primary mineral sector is the country’s main source of revenue.  Exports of copper, cobalt, gold, coltan, diamonds, tin, and tungsten account for more than 95 percent of the DRC’s export revenue.  The highly competitive telecommunications industry has also seen significant investment, as has the energy sector through green sources such as hydroelectric and solar power generation.  There are several breweries and bottling plants, some large construction firms, and limited textile production.  Commercial opportunities exist in aviation, roads, railways, border security, water transport and ports, given the huge needs.  Agriculture and forestry have opportunities for sustainable economic diversification in the DRC, and companies are expressing interest in the development of carbon credit markets to finance investments.

Of the 278 investment projects that ANAPI approved for benefits under the Investment Law, 43 percent of the projects were approved by October 2022.  This represents a value of $4.054 billion.

Overall, businesses in the DRC face numerous challenges, including poor infrastructure, a predatory tax system, and corruption.  In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed economic growth and worsened the country’s food security situation, and in 2022, Russia’s attacks on Ukraine increased global prices for imported food and gasoline.  Armed groups remain active in eastern DRC, creating a fragile security situation that negatively affects the business environment.  While laws protecting investors are in place, the court system is often very slow to make decisions or follow the law, allowing many investment disputes to drag on for years.  The court system lacks basic digitalization to track cases, record decisions, or provide judges with resources needed to make well-informed decisions.  Judges, who earn low wages, are open to corrupt influences.  Concerns about the use of child labor in the artisanal mining of copper and cobalt have discouraged potential buyers.  U.S. government assistance programs to build capacity for labor inspection and enforcement are helping to address these concerns.

The GDRC’s announced priorities include increased efforts to combat corruption, electoral reform, a review of mining contracts signed under the Kabila regime, and improvements in mining revenue collection.

To access the ICS, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statements website.