Entrepreneurship in the Congo
The DRC has the third largest population and the second largest land area in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is rich in natural and human resources, including the second largest rain forest in the world, fertile soils, ample rainfall, as well as considerable and varied mineral resources.
Historically, mining of copper, cobalt, diamonds, gold and other base metals, zinc, and petroleum extraction accounted for about 75% of total export revenues, and about 25% of the country’s GDP. GDP in 2002 was US$5.7 billion. Agriculture accounted for 53.8% of GDP in 2002, industry 18.8% and services 24.9%.
Significant strides have been made towards the improvement of the economy, despite the fact that the country’s peace process has been marred by continuous clashes in its north eastern regions.
The DRC’s main challenges for the future include consolidating the recently achieved macroeconomic stability and deepening far-reaching structural reforms, consistent with the Government’s interim poverty reduction strategy paper, continuing to improve governance and the business climate; and ensuring a smooth reunification of the country.
Important progress has been made in strengthening public finances through a return to normal budgetary procedures, including the centralisation of revenue and expenditure. On September 22, 2002, Paris Club creditors granted exceptional debt relief beyond Naples terms. Far-reaching structural measures were put in place, resulting in the removal of major economic distortions, notably through the unification of multiple exchange rates and the liberalisation of prices. There was also a profound change in the judicial and regulatory environment so as to create an institutional framework propitious for private sector-led growth.
The liberalisation of prices has resulted in increased availability of food products in major cities. Government revenues have increased and significant steps have been taken to centralize expenditures and improve budget execution. Unfortunately, there is very little written on entrepreneurship in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, as Africa’s third largest country and one of the most resource rich countries in the world, there are many opportunities available. Diamonds and oil are two many resources that draw a lot of attention and entrepreneurial endeavors related to these two items could be very profitable. Also, technology is on the rise in the major cities. The lack of land lines has made cellular phones and internet cafes very lucrative businesses. While there are many opportunities, there are also many risks. It can be very difficult for foreigners to start a business, especially a white person. Finally, years of civil war of have left the country in an unstable condition. Any business ventures could quickly be forced to close down and evacuate. There are definitely high rewards in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but high risk follows high reward.