n African Renaissance - Opportunities for reform in the natural resource sector in post-election DR Congo : rhetoric or reality?

Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


For the first time in over forty years, the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) elected a new President and National Assembly in 2006. The elections have provided a unique opportunity for the country's leadership to turn from the corrupt and destructive practices which have held the country back over the past decades. In this nascent democratic environment, it is paramount that the new government demonstrate a commitment and ability to carry out much needed reforms. In particular the natural resource sector is critical as a potential source of economic growth as well as in its impact on the environment and on the living conditions of tens of millions of Congolese citizens.

The DRC is one of the most naturally rich countries in Africa, with reserves of gold, silver, diamonds, tin ore, coltani, oil, copper, cobalt and timber. Article 58 of the 2005 Congolese constitution states that "All Congolese have the right to enjoy the nation's wealth. The State has a duty to redistribute it equitably and to guarantee the right to development." However, governments have persistently violated this right and the country's citizens remain some of the poorest people in the world. In 2006, the DRC was ranked 167 out of a total 177 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index, reflecting the very low education, health and living standards. The government provides few social services and many areas are in desperate need of schools, clean water, passable roads and basic health facilities. The effects of mismanagement and lack of investment under President Mobutu were compounded by the destruction of infrastructure during the war since 1996.

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