The Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, is one of the largest countries in Africa. The country formed a new government as of May 17, 1997. However, the assassination of President Kabila in January, 2001 threw the country into a heightened state of transition. Despite its plentiful resources, the country is in a deep political and economic crisis. The resulting conditions include increased crime, the deterioration of infrastructure, as well as shortages in medical and everyday supplies. Reports of occasional official hostility towards expatriates have surfaced, as well as immigration hassles and bribery. All expatriates are recommended to remain extremely cautious.
Laurent Kabila's son Joseph took over the presidency when his father was assassinated in 2001, and then won the 2006 election. Much hope has been placed in his ability to heal the wounds of conflict. Provincial assemplies were established, with governors and senators elected in 2007.
Despite political uncertainty, the Democratic Republic of Congo remains a country eager for rapid development. Its location provides many strategic options, and its variety remains a crucial benefit, although recent ethnic tensions have torn what was once a healthy culture rich in diversity. The Democratic Republic of Congo is surrounded by a total of nine countries, including the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Sudan to the north; Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to the east; Zambia and Angola to the south; and opens into the Atlantic Ocean in the west. This country is rich in African tradition, but also a country simultaneously longing for and stretching towards modernity. Expatriates assigned to this fascinating country will find great opportunity amid the current deterioration.
While there is much uncertainty and instability in the new government, business is still being conducted albeit in a more chaotic environment. The current business climate lacks predictability and the entire country's business future is in a state of disarray right now.
The country's main source of income derives from the exploitation of its rich mineral reserves and from its hydrocarbon resources. Some of the Democratic Republic of Congo's natural resources include uranium, copper, petroleum, coal, diamonds, gold, silver, tin, iron ore and many more. This country has one of the leading mining industries in Africa, and offers foreign countries an abundance of resources.
However, since 1990, the gross domestic product has lost more than one third of its value in real terms. The decline has occurred in the mainstay sectors as noted above.
Prior to the government coup, the country had reached a very high inflation level, with periodic liquid shortages, so businesses have had to rely on hard currencies, particularly the US dollar of the Belgian franc. With traditional banking channels also in a state of mismanagement, business has been severely limited. Therefore, foreign investment has been discouraged by the private sector. The IMF curtailed its DRC activity in 2006, but has signed a new agreement in 2010, after monumental economic losses in 2009.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is much like other African countries where the interior is neglected, and much of the formal economy has traditionally been operated by foreigners or foreign advisors. Skilled manpower is scare.
What to expect for daily living
You may find life in this region is still developing, but most of life's necessities can be found or purchased in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some services that are offered in and around Kinshasa include tailoring, dry cleaning, repair and beauty services.
Although the rates tend to be higher than you would expect, the services provided are quite good. In addition to these services, you will find a few well stocked grocery stores. All your basic needs ranging from canned goods to household items can generally be found. Since the country is in a state of political and economical instability, many elements in your daily life may below your average standard. You might need to exhibit a great deal of patience and perseverance in order to survive certain delays and shortcomings found in this area of the world.