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Economic Overview

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Heavily dependent on oil revenues, the Republic of Congo’s economy is regularly impacted by fluctuations in global oil prices. After the recession induced by low oil prices and aggravated by the Covid-19 global pandemic, economic growth rebounded in 2022. The 2021 contraction of -0.6% GDP turned into a positive growth of 4.3% GDP in 2022, that is expected to further accelerate to 4.6% GDP in 2023 and 7.3% GDP in 2024 (IMF). Economic growth is driven by renewed investment by the largest oil producers, high oil prices, a rebound in oil production, domestic arrears repayments, government investment in agriculture and infrastructure, and steady activity in mining, manufacturing, and services (IMF).

The Congolese economy is largely dominated by oil production, which accounts for 80% of exports and 60% of domestic revenues (Coface). This oil dependency makes the country vulnerable to shifts in commodity prices. After seven years of recession, the Congolese economy rebounded in 2022 despite the deteriorating international environment, driven by higher oil prices and the dynamism of non-oil sector. Reflecting the authorities’ efforts to restore debt sustainability, budget surplus increased from 1.7% GDP in 2021 to 9% GDP in 2022, and is expected to remain high at 6.4% GDP in 2023 and 2024 (IMF). However, the non-oil primary deficit and net domestic financing substantially exceeded their targets, due to the introduction of a subsidy to the national oil company (SNPC) for importing fuel (IMF). Public debt decreased from 103.6% GDP in 2021 to 82% GDP in 2022, and is expected to further reduce to 73.9% GDP in 2023 and 64.5% GDP in 2024 (IMF). It is assessed as sustainable but at high risk of debt distress. Inflation increased from 2% in 2021 to 3.5% in 2022, and it is expected to reduce to 3.2% in 2023 and 3% in 2024 (IMF). Inflationary pressures are driven by high global fuel and transport prices inflating food imports bill, but are contained by food price regulation and subsidised public transport costs (IMF). In January 2022, the IMF approved a 36-month arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility in an amount equivalent to about USD 455 million, to help the country maintain macroeconomic stability and support economic recovery. Reducing debt vulnerabilities, strengthening domestic revenue mobilization and public spending efficiency, and advancing wide-ranging structural reforms are the main priorities. The authorities are also committed to the National Development Plan 2022-26, which focuses on social and infrastructure spending. Lack of economic diversification is a major challenge for the country. While some progress has been made in translating its natural resources into economic growth, the country has not fully succeeded in leveraging them to achieve robust socio-economic outcomes.

Poverty rate is alarming, reaching 52% in 2021 according to the World Bank. The country ranked 153rd in the world on the 2021 Human development index, falling 4 places. Unemployment rate in Congo was estimated at around 22.2% in 2021 (World Bank, modeled ILO estimate).

Main Indicators 202020212022 (E)2023 (E)2024 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 10.5012.1312.5313.0313.70
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -
GDP per Capita (USD) 2,2432,5282,5472,5852,651
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 112.1107.999.696.589.2
Inflation Rate (%)
Current Account (billions USD) 1.411.772.650.630.01
Current Account (in % of GDP) 13.514.621.24.80.1

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , October 2021

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by La Coface.



Main Sectors of Industry

In Congo, agriculture contributes to 9.5% of GDP and employs 34% of the active population (World Bank, 2021), most of whom practice subsistence farming. Though it possesses many fertile lands, only a minor part of these lands is cultivated (less than 10%). As the sector fails to meet its domestic demand, Congo relies heavily on food imports. The latter accounts for about 80% of domestic food consumption. The main crops are cassava, plantains, bananas, peanuts, and palm oil.

The industrial sector contributes 23.5% of GDP and employs 21% of the workforce. The petroleum, timber, and mining sectors are the economy’s main drivers. The oil sector, in particular, is the country's major revenue earner, though Congo is too exposed to fluctuations in commodity prices. This sector is dominated by foreign companies, with the French giant TotalEnergies accounting for the largest share of the country's total annual oil production. The country boasts significant hydrocarbon reserves, with an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil reserves and 284 billion cubic meters of natural gas (OPEC).

The services sector accounts for 60.2% of Congo’s GDP, and employs 45% of the workforce. The sector is based mostly on support services for the oil sector. Tourism struggles mostly due to security issues and insufficient infrastructures. While it is extremely buoyant, Congo’s banking sector remains less dynamic compared to other countries in the region.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 33.5 21.5 45.0
Value Added (in % of GDP) 9.5 23.5 60.2
Value Added (Annual % Change) 1.5 -7.9 5.7

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
CFA Franc BEAC (XAF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 593.01582.09555.72585.90575.59

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.



Foreign Trade

Congo’s foreign trade policy promotes a favorable social and economic environment aimed at fostering international trade, which represented 96% of GDP in 2021 (World Bank). Customs duty are harmonized by the Central African Customs and Economic Union (UDEAC). They fluctuate between 5 and 30%. Congo is also a member of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) and of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). However, its integration is being delayed. Congo mainly exports crude oil and refined petroleum (55% of total exports), raw timber (14.5%), vessels (14.3%), vehicles, copper, machinery and zinc. Its main import products are meat (10.8% of total imports), boats (9.7%), machinery (8.5%), cereals (5.9%), vehicles, mineral fuels, electrical equipment, food and medicinal products (International Trade Centre, 2021).

Congo's exports are mainly sent to China (45.8% of total exports), Ivory Coast (8.6%), Togo (7.5%), Cameroon (5.4%), Gabon (4%), India and the United Arab Emirates; while its main suppliers are China (19.6% of total imports), France (12.5%), Belgium (9%), Russia, the United States, Namibia and India (International Trade Centre, 2021).
In 2021, WTO data showed that the country’s exports and imports of goods were valued at USD 6.97 billion and USD 2.3 billion respectively. Export of goods and services decreased by -12.2% compared to 2020, while imports increased by 2.5%. Increased oil production has stimulated exports and contributes to a substantive trade surplus.

Foreign Trade Values 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 3,7453,4862,2421,8662,302
Exports of Goods (million USD) 6,07811,1555,5763,3406,970
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,9090000
Exports of Services (million USD) 1870000

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 113.2120.0127.099.495.6
Trade Balance (million USD) n/an/a4,3082,199n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) n/an/a2,9101,391n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 14.411.47.4-11.1-12.2
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20222023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 2.5-
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 4.616.59.0-0.8-0.2

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

International Economic Cooperation
The Republic of the Congo is a member of the CEMAC - Central African Economic and Monetary Community and the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC). The country is also a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).


Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Denis SASSOU-Nguesso (since 25 October 1997)
Prime Minister: Clément MOUAMBA (since 23 April 2016)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: March 2026
Senate: 2023
National Assembly: July 2027
Main Political Parties
Although the Republic of Congo is formally a multi-party country, the Congolese Labour Party (democratic socialist) is the dominant and opposition parties are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power. Other major parties include:
Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development (liberalist-conservative)
Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (socialist)
Action Movement for Renewal (socialist)
Convention for Democracy and Salvation (a coalition of sixteen opposition parties)
Executive Power
According to art. 64 of the Constitution, the President of the Republic is the chief executive and the head of state. The President is elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term (with a maximum of two mandates). Following the approval of a new Constitution after a referendum in 2015, the Republic of Congo became a semi-presidential republic by the creation of the post of prime minister (who is responsible to the legislature and the cabinet).
Legislative Power
The legislative power is vested in the parliament, which is composed of two chambers: the National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale, whose members are elected for a five-year terms in single-seat constituencies); and the Senate (Sénat, with members elected for a six-year term by district, local and regional councils).
However, the executive has a major role the legislative process, as the Cabinet deliberates on bills, draft ordinances and draft decrees. Furthermore, the President has the power - concurrently with members of parliament - to initiate bills to be tabled in parliament.


COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of Congo, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.