DRC economy expected to expand

KINSHASA — Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s economy will grow by 8,2% in 2013, but rising debt levels and continued poor governance in the extractive industries sector will weigh on performance, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said.

Congo, which relies heavily on its copper and cobalt mining sector to drive growth, is expected to achieve expansion of 7,2 in 2012, the IMF said, as part of an annual review of the country’s finances published last week.

Rich in an array of minerals, but plagued by decades of misrule, the former Belgian colony has gradually attracted investors, as it seeks to recover from two wars, the last of which officially ended in 2003.
“Efforts to improve governance and transparency must be stepped up in extractive industries,” the IMF said.

The Fund said that the commercialisation of State-owned enterprises — treating them as if they were privately-owned companies — in 2010 had created what it called “gaps” within the sector, without giving further details.

The IMF has delayed the release of some US$180 million from DRC’s credit facility due to concerns over Kinshasa’s secretive sale of mining contracts, often at knock-down prices.

The communique also warned that weak management was risking debt levels once more reaching unsustainable levels, after the country received US$8 billion of external debt relief in 2010.

“The current account deficit widened in 2011 to about 11,5% of gross domestic product as commodity prices weakened from their high levels in 2010 and the value of imports increased, especially for food, fuel and capital goods,” it said.

The government has vowed to improve the business climate with a view to hitting the double-digit economic growth needed in the medium term to dent poverty in the vast nation of over 65 million people.

While Congo’s broader conflict has ended, a new rebellion in Congo’s North Kivu province has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, sapping time and resources from the government.







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