The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the third-largest country in Africa, Congo's development potential is considerable. Copper, cobalt, coffee, petroleum, and diamonds provide most of its foreign exchange earnings. The largely unexploited forests represent the world's largest reserves of tropical hardwood.
Arable land is plentiful through much of Congo, and inland waters contain abundant supplies of fish. Improved political stability would boost Congo's long-term potential to effectively exploit its vast wealth of mineral and agricultural resources.
The economy is largely under mobilized and underused, with 80 percent of the labor force deployed in subsistence activities, and largely untapped mineral, agricultural and energy potential. Renewed growth could rely on the country's low-cost and potentially competitive labor force, strong natural resource base, large domestic market, dynamic local communities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), preferential access to European markets, and proximity to the South African economy.
After sharply increasing to almost 9 percent in the period 2013-2014, the real gross domestic product (GDP) rate decelerated in 2015 and the growth rate is not expected to exceed 2.5 percent in 2016. This slump is mainly due to declining raw material prices and shrinking global demand for raw materials.
In 2016, budget performance deteriorated from a 0.1 percent of GDP surplus to a 1.5 percent of GDP deficit, mainly as a result of decreasing revenue and the rise of inflation to an annual average of 5.7 percent.
The Government has launched reforms to strengthen governance and transparency in the extractive industries (forestry, mining, and oil sectors) and to improve the business climate. Currently, almost all contracts signed by the Government are accessible to the public.
Moreover, the Democratic Republic of Congo participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and regularly publishes revenues from natural resources. However, systematizing the procedures necessary for a competitive process in awarding mining, oil, and forestry contracts requires additional efforts on the part of the Government.