The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is, by area, the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa and the 4th most populous country in Africa (108 million).
The main development challenges are the lack of capacity of the government and the extreme fragility of the political environment and of Congolese institutions. The vast size of the country coupled with a lack of reliable communication (absence of road infrastructure, unreliable means of transport) makes access to most of the country extremely difficult.
After long periods of political instability, particularly during the 1990s, the Republic of Congo is today an important centre of stability in the Central African region. The most crucial issues for the country lie in the diversification of its economy. Other challenges relate to improving economic governance, improving the business climate, and the sustainable management of natural resources.
Given the state's heavy dependence on revenue linked to oil production, public debt is estimated to have increased at the end of 2020 to around 100% of GDP. In this context, the EU gives great importance to the issue of Congo’s debt, as well as to the consistency of its support with any fund programs and their included reforms. A joint strategy was decided upon in 2019 that forms the basis of the MIP as seen from the following priority areas:
Economic governance and transition to a green economy
Faced with the prospect of a 75% reduction in oil production by 2035, the main challenge for the country’s economy is the transition towards a post-oil economy, one based on private initiative and green growth. Economic diversification with a strong emphasis on the eco-responsible development of agricultural and forestry sectors, accompanied by vocational training and human capital development is essential.
Sustainable management of natural resources
Pressure on the environment is mounting and making long-term political decisions in the use and management of natural resources, including fisheries, is essential. Sustainable land use, protected areas, forestry, and agriculture, constitute important elements for this purpose and the continuation of the EU's long-standing commitment to the preservation of biodiversity can contribute to achieving these goals.
Democracy, human rights, and participatory governance
This area’s priorities concern the strengthening of the protection of the rights of vulnerable populations as we are committed to supporting the country’s democratic institutions. Joint efforts by the EU and Member States could improve the capacities of law enforcement and specialized institutions, following actions for strengthening the rule of law, the promotion of human rights, and support for the justice sector.
The Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) for the Republic of Congo for 2021-2024 amounts to €73 million.
Priority area 1: ‘’Economic governance and transition to a green economy’’ contributes to the development of a diversified economy and the capacities of the private sector, small and medium-sized enterprises, with emphasis on agriculture, sustainable and circular production methods, working conditions, dignity, entrepreneurship and qualifying vocational training.
Priority area 2: ‘’Sustainable management of natural resources’’ supports the sustainable management of natural resources and the preservation of biodiversity, including forest cover, through sustainable land use and the improvement of forest governance, the promotion of a forest economy, and sustainable agriculture. Furthermore, it strengthens the resilience of cities to climate change, including the management of urban waste and sanitation, local governance, and local capacities to deliver public services.
Priority area 3: ‘’ Democracy, human rights, and participatory governance’’ advances the development of a diversified economy and builds the capacities of the private sector, including the development of a favourable business climate, better economic governance, and public finance management.