The economy of the Republic of the Congo is a mixture of subsistence hunting and agriculture, an industrial sector based largely on petroleum extraction and support services, and a government spending, characterized by budget problems and overstaffing. Petroleum has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy, providing a major share of government revenues and exports. Nowadays the country is increasingly converting natural gas to electricity rather than burning it, greatly improving energy prospects.
|Economy of Republic of the Congo|
|Currency||Central African CFA Franc (XOF)|
|1 USD = 511.4 XOF (2012)|
|WTO, African Union|
|GDP||$19.27 billion (2012)|
|2.6% (2015), -2.8% (2016), |
-4.6% (2017e), 0.7% (2018f) 
GDP by sector
|agriculture (4.9%), industry (69.8%), services (25.3%) (2016)|
Population below poverty line
Labour force by occupation
|petroleum extraction, cement, lumber, brewing, sugar, palm oil, soap, flour, cigarettes|
|Exports||$12.35 billion (2012)|
|petroleum, lumber, plywood, sugar, cocoa, coffee, diamonds|
Main export partners
| China 38.9% |
United States 12.9%
India 5.3% (2012 est.)
|Imports||$4.751 billion (2012)|
|capital equipment, construction materials, foodstuffs|
Main import partners
| France 19.2% |
United States 6.1%
Belgium 4.3% (2012 est.)
Gross external debt
|4.225 billion (2012)|
|Revenues||$8.05 billion (2012)|
|Expenses||$5.93 billion (2012)|
Earlier in the 1990s, Congo's major employer was the state bureaucracy, which had a payroll of 80,000, which is enormous for a country of Congo's size. The World Bank and other international financial institutions pressured Congo to institute sweeping civil service reforms in order to reduce the size of the state bureaucracy and pare back a civil service payroll that amounted to more than 20% of GDP in 1993. The effort to cut back began in 1994 with a 50% devaluation that cut the payroll in half in dollar terms and by a mid-year reduction of nearly 8,000 in civil service employment and resulted in inflation of 61%. Inflation has since subsided.
Between 1994-96, the Congolese economy underwent a difficult transition. The prospects for building the foundation of a healthy economy, however, were better than at any time in the previous 15 years. Congo took a number of measures to liberalize its economy, including reforming the tax, investment, labor, and hydrocarbon codes. Planned privatizations of key parastatals, primarily telecommunications and transportation monopolies, were launched to help improve a dilapidated and unreliable infrastructure. To build on the momentum achieved during the two-year period, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a three-year ESAF economic program in June 1996.
By the end of 1996, Congo had made substantial progress in various areas targeted for reform. It made significant strides toward macroeconomic stabilization through improving public finances and restructuring external debt. This change was accompanied by improvements in the structure of expenditures, with a reduction in personnel expenditures. Further, Congo benefited from debt restructuring from a Paris Club agreement in July 1996.
This reform program came to a halt, however, in early June 1997 when war broke out. Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who returned to power when the war ended in October 1997, publicly expressed interest in moving forward on economic reforms and privatization and in renewing cooperation with international financial institutions. However, economic progress was badly hurt by slumping oil prices in 1998, which worsened the Republic of the Congo's budget deficit. A second blow was the resumption of armed conflict in December 1998.
Congo's economic prospects remain largely dependent on the country's ability to establish political stability and democratic rule. The World Bank is considering Congo for post-conflict assistance. Priorities will be in reconstruction, basic services, infrastructure, and utilities. President Sassou has publicly expressed interest in moving forward on economic reforms and privatization, as well as in renewing cooperation with international financial institutions. However, the return of armed conflict in 1998 hindered economic reform and recovery.
Congo and the United States ratified a bilateral investment treaty designed to facilitate and protect foreign investment. The country also adopted a new investment code intended to attract foreign capital. Despite this, Congo's investment climate is not considered favorable, offering few meaningful incentives. High costs for labor, energy, raw materials, and transportation; a restrictive labor code; low productivity and high production costs; militant labor unions; and an inadequate transportation infrastructure are among the factors discouraging investment. The recent political instability, war damage, and looting also undermined investor confidence. As a result, Congo has little American investment outside of the oil sector.
In recent years, the Republic's economic growth has slowed because of the 2014-2016 fall in oil prices. 
The Congo's growing petroleum sector is by far the country's major revenue earner. In the early 1980s, rapidly rising oil revenues enabled the government to finance large-scale development projects with GDP growth averaging 5% annually, one of the highest rates in Africa. However, the government has mortgaged a substantial portion of its oil earnings, contributing to the government's shortage of revenues. The Congolese oil sector is dominated by the French parastatal oil company Total, which accounts for 70% of the country's annual oil production. In second position is the Italian oil firm eni. Chevron, independent CMS Nomeco, and Exxon Mobil are among the American companies active in petroleum exploration or production. Following recent discoveries and oil fields currently under development, Congo's oil production is expected to continue to rise significantly in the next few years.
The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1980–2017.
|GDP in $
|3.13 Bln.||4.55 Bln.||8.29 Bln.||9.57 Bln.||11.72 Bln.||16.06 Bln.||17.59 Bln.||17.77 Bln.||19.13 Bln.||20.78 Bln.||22.87 Bln.||24.14 Bln.||25.52 Bln.||26.78 Bln.||29.13 Bln.||30.22 Bln.||29.74 Bln.||28.88 Bln.|
|GDP per capita in $
|12.7 %||2.4 %||1.0 %||4.0 %||7.6 %||7.8 %||6.2 %||−1.7 %||5.6 %||7.8 %||4.8 %||3.4 %||3.8 %||3.3 %||6.8 %||2.6 %||−2.8 %||−4.6 %|
|7.3 %||3.5 %||0.3 %||6.3 %||0.5 %||3.5 %||3.7 %||2.6 %||6.0 %||4.3 %||0.4 %||1.8 %||5.0 %||4.6 %||0.9 %||3.2 %||3.2 %||0.5 %|
(Percentage of GDP)
|...||...||...||...||163 %||108 %||99 %||111 %||79 %||63 %||22 %||24 %||29 %||34 %||48 %||97 %||115 %||120 %|
GDP: purchasing power parity - $18.48 billion (2011 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4.5% (2011 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $4,600 (2011 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4.2% (2011 est.)
industry: 70.7% (2011 est.)
services: 25.1% (2011 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.1% (2005)
highest 10%: 37.1% (2005)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6% (2011 est.)
Labor force: 1.514 million (2007)
Ease of Doing Business Rank: 181st
revenues: $6.938 billion (2011 est.)
expenditures: $3.535 billion (2011 est.)
Industries: petroleum extraction, cement, lumber, brewing, sugar, palm oil, soap, flour, cigarettes
Industrial production growth rate: 12% (2010 est.)
Electricity - production: 452 million kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 534 million kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2009 est.)
Electricity - imports: 436 million kWh (2008 est.)
Exports: $12.38 billion (2011 est.)
Imports: $4.917 billion (2011 est.)
Imports - commodities: capital equipment, construction materials, foodstuffs
Debt - external: $4.955 billion (2011 est.)
Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt as percentage of GDP: 61.2% (2017)
Agriculture in the Republic of the Congo is mostly at the subsistence level. Self-sufficiency in food production is yet to be achieved. Cassava (manioc) is the basic food crop everywhere in the country except in the southern region, where bananas and plantains are prevalent. Among the cash crops, the most important are sugarcane and tobacco, though palm kernels, cacao, and coffee are also cultivated to some extent. The main consumption crops are bananas, manioc, peanuts, plantains, sugarcane, and yams. Subsistence agriculture is the country's most significant employer, and it is one of the three most important economic sectors. With the government's efforts since 1987, agricultural production has increased due to "abolishing state marketing boards, freeing prices, launching new agricultural credit institutions and closing down most state farms". The Niari Valley in the south is a notable agricultural area.Bank of Central African States
The Bank of Central African States (French: Banque des États de l'Afrique Centrale, BEAC) is a central bank that serves six central African countries which form the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa:
Central African Republic
Republic of the CongoPhilibert Andzembe of Gabon was Governor of the BEAC from July 2007 until October 2009, when he was fired by the new president of Gabon, Ali Bongo, in response to a bank scandal in which $28.3 million went missing from the bank's Paris branch. Jean Félix Mamalepot, also from Gabon, was Governor for preceding 17 years.In December 2010, a WikiLeaks memo dated July 7, 2009, said that Gabonese officials working for the Bank of Central African States stole US$36 million over a period of five years from the pooled reserves, giving much of the money to members of France's two main political parties.Cassava production in the Republic of the Congo
Cassava (Manihot esculenta, manioca in French language) production is important to the economy of the Republic of the Congo as it is its prime crop. The importance of cassava consumption is reflected in the country's popular song, "The Congolese Love Cassava". It is consumed in several forms, and marketed as paste, cossettes, foufou (flour), and chikwangue. As a staple food crop, cassava is grown in most parts of the country, except the southern region where the crops grown are banana and plantains. Cassava and yams are the primary subsistence crops grown in the country's valleys, with farmers producing five harvests per year. The Republic of the Congo, as of 1996, was the world's second largest consumer of cassava after Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.Central African CFA franc
The Central African CFA franc (French: franc CFA or simply franc, ISO 4217 code: XAF) is the currency of six independent states in Central Africa: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. These six countries have a combined population of 48.0 million people (as of 2014), and a combined GDP of US$88.2 billion (as of 2012).CFA stands for Coopération financière en Afrique centrale ("Financial Cooperation in Central Africa"). It is issued by the BEAC (Banque des États de l'Afrique Centrale, "Bank of the Central African States"), located in Yaoundé, Cameroon, for the members of the CEMAC (Communauté Économique et Monétaire de l'Afrique Centrale, "Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa"). The franc is nominally subdivided into 100 centimes but no centime denominations have been issued.
In several west African states, the West African CFA franc, which is of equal value to the Central African CFA franc, is in circulation.Economic Community of Central African States
The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS; French: Communauté Économique des États de l'Afrique Centrale, CEEAC; Spanish: Comunidad Económica de los Estados de África Central, CEEAC; Portuguese: Comunidade Económica dos Estados da África Central, CEEAC) is an Economic Community of the African Union for promotion of regional economic co-operation in Central Africa. It "aims to achieve collective autonomy, raise the standard of living of its populations and maintain economic stability through harmonious cooperation".List of companies of the Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo is a country located in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Angolan exclave of Cabinda. In the early 1980s, rapidly rising oil revenues enabled the government to finance large-scale development projects with GDP growth averaging 5% annually, one of the highest rates in Africa. The government has mortgaged a substantial portion of its petroleum earnings, contributing to a shortage of revenues. The January 12, 1994 devaluation of Franc Zone currencies by 50% resulted in inflation of 46% in 1994, but inflation has subsided since.Outline of the Republic of the Congo
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Republic of the Congo:
Republic of the Congo – also known as Congo-Brazzaville or the Congo, is a sovereign country located in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.
The republic is a former French colony. Upon independence in 1960, the former French region of Middle Congo became the Republic of the Congo. After a quarter century of Marxism, Congo became a multi-party democracy in 1992. However, a brief civil war in 1997 ended in the restoration of former Marxist President Denis Sassou Nguesso to power.
States with limited