Congo flag Congo: Economic and Political Overview

The economic context of Congo

Economic Indicators

Heavily reliant on oil revenues, the Republic of Congo's economy has been significantly affected by fluctuations in global oil prices since 2015. The country experienced a major economic and financial crisis due to the decline in international oil prices, leading to a substantial drop in export revenues. Following two years of recession, slight growth resumed in 2018 and 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused another recession of 8.1% in 2020. Subsequently, the economy began to recover, with growth rates of 1.5% in 2021 and 1.7% in 2022. According to the IMF, growth in the Republic of Congo was estimated to reach 4% in 2023, driven by growth in both the oil GDP (4.4%) and the non-oil sector (3.9%). Further growth is anticipated in 2024, with a projected rate of 4.4%, primarily due to increased oil production exports (6.5%) and expansion in the non-oil sector (4%).

The budget bill for 2024 outlines budgetary resources of XOF 2,605.7 billion and expenditures of XOF 2,069.7 billion, resulting in an overall budget balance of XOF 536.0 billion. However, the projected cash flow shortfall is expected to be XOF 1,174.0 billion, resulting in an overall budget financing gap of XOF 638 billion. Regarding public debt, substantial restructuring and improved oil prices have restored debt sustainability under the IMF program. In 2022, Congo's total public debt stood at USD 13.0 billion (92.5% of GDP), comprising 47% external debt and 53.5% domestic debt. The IMF projects a decrease in debt to 87.3% of GDP by 2025 amid nominal GDP growth.
Inflation, which averaged 3% in 2022, was projected to accelerate to 3.5% in 2023 due to factors like fuel price deregulation and increases in electricity prices. However, inflation is expected to decelerate to 3.2% in 2024 and return to the 3% threshold in 2025, according to the IMF. Reducing debt vulnerabilities, enhancing domestic revenue mobilization, improving public spending efficiency, and implementing structural reforms are key priorities. The National Development Plan 2022-2026 emphasizes social and infrastructure spending. However, economic diversification remains a significant challenge for the country.

The poverty rate in Congo was alarming, reaching 52% in 2021, with a low GDP per capita estimated at USD 3,791 (PPP) by the World Bank. The unemployment rate was estimated at around 20.5% in 2022, with the informal sector playing a prominent role, engaging about 80% of urban workers.

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 13.9614.4115.4216.2217.16
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 1.84.04.43.33.8
GDP per Capita (USD) 2,8382,8582,9843,0613,160
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 92.597.891.087.383.1
Inflation Rate (%) n/a3.53.23.03.0
Current Account (billions USD) 2.710.570.320.01-0.32
Current Account (in % of GDP) 19.44.02.10.0-1.9

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Main Sectors of Industry

In Congo, agriculture contributes 8% of GDP and employs 32% of the active population (World Bank, latest data available), with the majority practicing subsistence farming. Despite having fertile lands, only a small portion is cultivated, less than 10%. The country's territory is mostly covered by forests, accounting for 70% of its land area. However, the forestry sector's contribution to GDP is only 5.6%. Agriculture focuses on subsistence farming, leading Congo to heavily rely on food imports, with "food products and beverages" comprising over half of the country's imported goods and about 80% of domestic food consumption. The main crops include cassava, plantains, bananas, peanuts, and palm oil.

The industrial sector contributes 49.2% of GDP and employs 42% of the workforce, driven by the petroleum, timber, and mining sectors. Congo is the primary oil-producing nation within the CEMAC region, with an estimated annual production of at least 270,000 barrels per day in 2023. Oil contributes to a quarter of GDP, two-thirds of budgetary revenues, and over 80% of export revenues in 2023, making Congo highly vulnerable to fluctuations in commodity prices. Foreign companies dominate the oil sector, with TotalEnergies being the largest contributor to the country's total annual oil production. Congo boasts significant hydrocarbon reserves, with an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil reserves and 284 billion cubic meters of natural gas (OPEC). The manufacturing sector accounts for an estimated 13% of GDP (World Bank).

The services sector represents 37.3% of Congo’s GDP and employs 46% of the workforce, mainly providing support services for the oil sector. It includes retail establishments, eateries, hotels, banks, telecommunications companies (such as Airtel and MTN), internet service providers (including Congo Telecom and Vivendi Africa Group), port operators, oil service providers, transportation firms, and public administration services. Tourism faces challenges primarily due to security issues and inadequate infrastructure.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 36.3 21.2 42.5
Value Added (in % of GDP) 8.5 36.2 48.5
Value Added (Annual % Change) 3.1 -1.7 5.5

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.}}

Score:
50,7/100
World Rank:
156
Regional Rank:
37

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.
 

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Ministry of Finances and Budget
Ministry of Hydrocarbons
Statistical Office
National Institute for Statistics
Central Bank
Bank of Central African States
Stock Exchange
The ROC does not have a stock exchange. ROC-based companies may be listed on the CEMAC Zone Stock Exchange (BVMAC).
Economic Portals
Fortune of Africa Congo
Les Echoes
Journal de Brazza
France24
 

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Latest Update: April 2024