The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has a GDP of US$55.09bn and a population of 89 million people, and has a surface area equivalent to that of Western Europe, making it the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa. The DRC is endowed with exceptional natural resources, including minerals such as cobalt and copper, hydropower potential, significant arable land, immense biodiversity, and the world’s second largest rainforest.
The DRC remains the African country with possibly the greatest untapped potential with its mineral wealth, but it is an underdeveloped economy and many of its people are impoverished. The DRC’s National Strategic Development Plan aims for it to become a middle-income country by 2022, mainly through transformation of its agricultural sector.
DRC’s economic growth decelerated from its pre-pandemic level of 4.4% in 2019, to an estimated 0.8% in 2020. Growth was driven by the extractives sector which, helped by robust demand from China, expanded by 6.9% in 2020 (compared to 1% in 2019). Real GDP is expected to grow by 1.2% in 2021 and 1.5% in 2022. This rebound will be driven by the increase in oil production, growth in services, and the revival of investment. Inflation is expected to be 2.6% in 2021 and 2.8% in 2022. Public debt was 83.3% of GDP at the end of 2019 and was expected to increase to 104.2% of GDP in 2020. The budget balance should show a surplus of 0.4% of GDP in 2021 and 0.7% of GDP in 2022. The current account deficit should be contained at 3% of GDP in 2021 and 3.5% in 2022.
But a continuation of the pandemic beyond the first half of 2021 could keep oil prices down, increase pressure on budgetary and external accounts and on the financial sector, which depends heavily on oil revenues.