Democratic Republic of Congo flag Democratic Republic of Congo: Investing in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Democratic Republic of Congo

FDI in Figures

According to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2023, FDI into the Democratic Republic of the Congo remained stable at USD 1.8 billion in 2022, primarily driven by investments in offshore oil fields and mining. Notably, Ivanhoe Mines (Canada) is set to bolster its Kamoa-Kakula copper mining complex with a USD 2.9 billion expansion. At the end of the same period, the FDI stock was estimated at USD 31 billion, around 49.3% of the country’s GDP.  To date, the mining sector is the one that attracts most FDI, followed by telecommunications. Investments in the mining sector received a boost in FDI as cobalt prices surged due to heightened demand for its application in smartphones and electric car batteries. The DRC, being the world's foremost cobalt producer and Africa's leading copper miner, benefited from these inflows. South Africa, Belgium and China are the country’s main investors.

The country benefits from a large domestic market and is strategically located in the centre of the African continent, being also a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The Democratic Republic of Congo has rich hydroelectric and mining resources (such as diamonds, copper, cobalt, gold and uranium), which have remained largely untapped. In order to attract FDIs, the government of the DRC provides incentives which are generally negotiated with foreign investors. However, the business climate is especially poor, and foreign investors are facing a number of challenges (corruption, lengthy administrative procedures and administrative fees) in establishing their businesses in the DRC. While there laws protecting investors in the country, the court system is often slow, so disputes can extend for years. In 2018, the mining code was amended, increasing taxes and royalties, requiring that at least 10% of the capital of mining companies be owned by indigenous citizens, and severely restricting the export of unprocessed minerals under new mining permit. In addition, the humanitarian and conflict situation in the east of the country and the stormy relations with neighbouring countries (Rwanda, Uganda and Angola) are factors which contribute to persistent insecurity in the country. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), legislation reserves small-scale commerce and retail trade exclusively for Congolese nationals. Additionally, there exists a 49 percent foreign ownership limit for agribusinesses, which acts as a constraint on agricultural investment. The telecommunications sector, under the new law enacted in 2022, mandates a 25 percent national ownership requirement. Subcontracting is restricted to companies "promoted" by Congolese nationals and headquartered in the DRC. According to Law No. 2017-01 of February 8, 2017, which outlines subcontracting regulations in the private sector, subcontracting companies must have a majority of their share capital held by Congolese nationals or entities under Congolese law. Moreover, the management teams must be predominantly composed of nationals, and the workforce must primarily consist of nationals as well. The DRC does not have a dedicated organization for screening inbound investments. Instead, this role is informally fulfilled by the Presidency and various ministries. The country ranks 162nd among the 180 economies on the Corruption Perception Index 2023 and 160th out of 184 on the latest Index of Economic Freedom.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 202020212022
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 1,6471,8701,846
FDI Stock (million USD) 27,27929,14930,995
Number of Greenfield Investments* 1246
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 1,1721973,309

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 
Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Democratic Republic of Congo Sub-Saharan Africa United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 7.0 5.5 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 1.0 3.5 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 3.0 5.5 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business, Latest available data

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

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What to consider if you invest in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Strong Points
Among the reasons to invest in the Democratic Republic of Congo:
- high growth rate of the national economy
- abundant mineral resources (copper, cobalt, diamond, gold, tin), with 80 million hectares of arable land and around 1,100 minerals in its subsoil
- the country is a member of several regional economic blocks, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (ECGLC).
- several incentives granted to foreign investors
- huge potential in sectors like mining, energy (especially hydroelectric), and infrastructure
Weak Points
Several factors hinder the Democratic Republic of Congo’s business climate:
- a difficult business climate (predatory tax agencies, limited access to capital, difficulties enforcing contracts due to the weak judicial system, weak banking sector)
- endemic corruption at all levels of government
- a shortage of skilled labor
- political uncertainty, with ongoing armed conflict in the eastern part of the country
- weak infrastructure (transport, energy, telecommunications)
- high level of poverty
- political instability
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
The government of the DRC provides some incentives to foreign investors. Such measures are generally negotiated during a streamlined period of approximately 30 days. Negotiated incentives can range from tax breaks to duty exemptions, and can vary according to the location and type of enterprise, the number of jobs created, the degree of training and promotion of local staff, and the export-producing potential of the operation.
Furthermore, the government created a “one-stop shop” for foreign investors, the Guichet Unique (https://www.guichetunique.cd/), that brings together all the government entities involved in the registration of a company in the DRC.
To know more about local incentives to FDI, consult the guide of the National Agency for Investment Promotion (ANAPI).

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Latest Update: May 2024

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