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Despite the challenges facing many African countries in 2022, the economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was ranked the third fastest growing in Africa. It maintained the strong momentum of 2021 (6.2% GDP growth) and strengthened its resilience with a GDP growth rate of 8.6%, compared to 6.1% initially projected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). International reserves reached USD 4.4 billion in 2022, up from USD 3.2 billion in 2021, a level that the country has never reached in its history. The national currency remained relatively stable in 2022, with a slight depreciation of 0.70% compared to 2021. These efforts contributed to and resulted in the satisfactory completion of the two reviews (second and third) for the IMF economic program, allowing the DRC to benefit from an estimated $406 million in balance-of-payments disbursements.

Mining investment and exports, supported by improving mineral prices and increasing public investment, remain the main drivers of growth. The DRC is endowed with exceptional natural resources, including mineral deposits (cobalt, copper, etc.), great hydroelectric potential, vast arable land, tremendous biodiversity, and the second largest tropical forest in the world. Its strategic location in the heart of Africa makes it a potentially attractive market for U.S. companies.

Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo’s ascension to the presidency in 2019 and his government’s commitment to attracting international, particularly U.S., investment have raised hopes in the business community for greater openness and transparency. Reflecting progress on human rights, anti-corruption, and labor, the DRC government (GDRC) became eligible for preferential trade preferences under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in January 2021. Tshisekedi created a Business Climate Unit (CCA), a presidential unit dedicated to addressing issues related to the business climate.

Overall investment is increasing, fueled by multilateral donor funding and private domestic and international financing. The extractive sector has historically attracted the most foreign investment and continues to attract investor attention as global demand for DRC’s minerals grows. The primary mineral sector is the country’s main source of revenue. Exports of copper, cobalt, gold, coltan, diamonds, tin, and tungsten account for more than 95 percent of the DRC’s export revenue. The highly competitive telecommunications industry has also seen significant investment, as has the energy sector through green sources such as hydroelectric and solar power generation. There are several breweries and bottling plants, some large construction firms, and limited textile production. Commercial opportunities exist in aviation, roads, railways, border security, water transport and ports, given the huge needs. Agriculture and forestry have opportunities for sustainable economic diversification in the DRC, and companies are expressing interest in the development of carbon credit markets to finance investments.

Of the 278 investment projects that the National Agency for the Promotion of Investments (ANAPI) approved for benefits under the Investment Law, 43 percent of the projects were approved by October 2022. This represents a value of USD 4.054 billion.

Overall, businesses in the DRC face numerous challenges, including poor infrastructure, a predatory tax system, and corruption. In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed economic growth and worsened the country’s food security situation, and in 2022, Russia’s attacks on Ukraine have increased global prices for imported food and gasoline. Armed groups remain active in eastern Congo, creating a fragile security situation that negatively affects the business environment. While laws protecting investors are in place, the court system is often very slow to make decisions or follow the law, allowing many investment disputes to drag on for years. The court system lacks basic digitalization to track cases, record decisions, or provide judges with resources needed to make well-informed decisions. Judges, who earn low wages, are open to corrupt influences. Concerns about the use of child labor in the artisanal mining of copper and cobalt have discouraged potential buyers. U.S. government assistance programs to build capacity for labor inspection and enforcement are helping to address these concerns.

The GDRC’s announced priorities include increased efforts to combat corruption, electoral reform, a review of mining contracts signed under the Kabila regime, and improvements in mining revenue collection.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2022 166 of 180
Global Innovation Index N/A N/A
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2021 $30.0
World Bank GNI per capita 2021 $500.0

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The DRC is actively seeking foreign direct investment (FDI), particularly from the United States and Europe, to diversify capital inflows, stimulate economic growth, and diversify the country’s economy. This stance has raised hopes that the DRC can implement and monitor investor-friendly policies. FDI-friendly laws are in place, but the judicial system is slow to protect investors’ rights and vulnerable to political pressure and corruption. Investors look to President Tshisekedi to create a more favorable environment by improving the rule of law and fighting corruption. The DRC’s rich natural resources, large population, and generally open trading system offer significant potential opportunities for U.S. investors. The 2002 Investment Code, although subject to some adjustments to make it more attractive and adapt it to the current context, remains a reference tool in terms of the attractiveness of the DRC’s business environment. Beyond the Investment Code, the DRC has implemented a legal arsenal of reforms to improve the business climate and increasingly attract both foreign direct investment and domestic investment, including reforms to the Mining Code, the Insurance Code, the Agriculture Code, the Electricity Liberalization Law, and the Telecommunications Code. The GDRC has also promoted improvements in the tax, customs, parafiscal, non-tax, and foreign exchange regimes applicable to cooperation agreements and projects, as well as the Decree on Strategic Partnership in Value Chains, the Industrial Property Act, the Public-Private Partnership Act, the Competition Act, and the Special Economic Zones Act. This package of measures has contributed to the stability of macroeconomic indicators, including inflation, exchange rates, and GDP growth. In recent years, the economic sphere has been characterized by orthodoxy in both fiscal and economic policies, which has led to an improvement of the DRC’s score in the Standard and Poor’s report from “CCC+” to “B-“. Moody’s raised the DRC’s rating from Caa1 to B3 with a stable outlook. At the same time, the DRC also received its first sovereign ratings from Bloomfield Investment Corporation of BBB (investment grade) with stable long-term outlook, and A2 (investment grade) with stable short-term outlook.
The main regulations governing FDI are contained in the Investment Code Law (No. 004/2002 of February 21, 2002). Current regulations reserve the exercise of small-scale commerce and retail commerce in the DRC to nationals and prohibit majority foreign ownership of agricultural enterprises. The decree of “August 8, 1990” clearly states that “small business may only be carried out by Congolese. Foreign investors must limit themselves to import, wholesale, and semi-wholesale trade. Investors fear that the ban on foreign ownership in agriculture will stifle any attempt to revive the sector. In 2017, the DRC enacted a law on private sector subcontracting, which requires that subcontracting activities be exclusively for nationals, with the aim of promoting national entrepreneurship and ensuring the emergence of a Congolese middle class.

The National Agency for the Promotion of Investment (ANAPI) is the official investment promotion agency that provides investment facilitation services for initial investments over $200,000. Its mission is to promote the positive image of the DRC and specific investment opportunities, advocate for the improvement of the business climate, and provide administrative support to new foreign investors who decide to establish or expand their economic activities. For further information, please visit .

The GDRC maintains an ongoing dialogue with investors to hear their concerns. There are several public and private sector forums that engage the government on the investment climate in specific sectors. In 2019, the GDRC created the Business Climate Cell (CCA) to monitor and improve the business environment in the DRC and interface with the business community. In June 2020, the CCA presented a roadmap for reforms. In December 2021, the CCA developed a digital tool to monitor and evaluate reforms and missions within the public administration, allowing the highest authorities, including the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister, to follow in real time the progress of the implementation of reforms by the various ministries. In February 2023, the CCA launched the National Business Climate Barometer (BNCA), a public-private partnership social media tool designed to periodically assess the level of satisfaction of economic operators with reforms and other practices related to the business environment in the DRC. The public-private mining group Financial and Technical Partners (PTF) represents countries with significant mining investment opportunities in the DRC. In March 2022, the GDRC created by decree the Agency for the Management, Coordination, and Supervision of Cooperation Agreements between the DRC and its Private Partners (APCSC). This agency oversees the implementation of cooperative agreements that the DRC has signed with private companies, particularly in the areas of basic infrastructure and natural resources. The APCSC serves as an interface between the various parties and entities interested in projects resulting from cooperative or collaborative agreements in the areas of basic infrastructure and natural resources, including the domestic private companies and/or groups of companies, as well as any joint venture or supervisory structure created for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, or marketing natural resources and/or carrying out infrastructure works. The Federation of Congolese Enterprises (FEC), a private sector organization that works with the government and trade unions, maintains a dialogue with the government on business interests.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

The GDRC provides the right for foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activities, except as noted below.
Except in certain exempted sectors, foreign ownership or control is permitted.
DRC law reserves small-scale commerce and retail trade to Congolese nationals, and there is a 49 percent foreign ownership limit for agribusinesses, which limits agricultural investment. Many investors note that, in practice, the DRC requires foreign investors to hire local agents and participate in joint ventures with the government or local partners. The new telecommunications law, enacted in 2022, includes a 25 percent national ownership requirement. Subcontracting is reserved for companies that are “promoted” by Congolese nationals and have their head office in the DRC. According to Law No. 2017-01 of 08 February 2017, which establishes the rules applicable to subcontracting in the private sector, the subcontracting company must have the majority of its share capital held by nationals or legal entities under Congolese law, the management bodies must be predominantly headed by nationals, and the staff must be predominantly composed of nationals.
The GDRC does not maintain an organization to screen inbound investments. The Presidency and ministries serve this purpose de facto. In May 2021, President Tshisekedi announced his intention to review the content and compliance of mining contracts signed under former President Kabila, a process that is still ongoing.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Cities with high customs clearance traffic use SYDONIA, which is an advanced software system for customs administrations in compliance with ASYCUDA WORLD. ASYCUDA is a major technical assistance software program recommended by UNCTAD for customs clearance management. For further information, please visit .

The international NGO The Sentry published a report in November 2021 on a multi-million-dollar embezzlement and bribery operation using money intended to support infrastructure development. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project reported in September 2022 that a DRC official was involved in negotiating a corrupt mineral contract.

The GRDC provides sector policy and business opportunity information in public reports. The government’s key sectors and investment priorities are outlined in the National Development Strategies Plan (NDSP). The government-approved Industrialization Master Plan (PDI) proposes a new economic/industrial model, prioritizing the agro-food, chemical-pharmaceutical and textile industries. The GDRC expects to rely on public-private partnerships (PPP), cooperation agreements, and public and private investment to finance the PDI. For more information, visit  and .

Business Facilitation

The GDRC operates a “One-Stop-Shop” for business creation (GUCE) that brings together all the government agencies involved in registering a company in the DRC, with an online electronic tracking system for the business creation file. The goal is to permit the quick and easy registration of companies through one office in one location. In October 2020, President Tshisekedi instructed the government to restructure the GUCE to facilitate its work with the various state organizations involved in its operation. More information is available at . In December 2021, the GDRC attempted to make the GUCE more efficient for businesses by implementing a system that allows businesses to register online.

Through the GUCE’s online portal, companies fill out a “single form” that integrates all the services involved in the process of creating a company, including the Notary’s Office, the Registry of Commerce and Personal Property Credit Register, the Administration of Tax Authority (DGI), the Center for Ordination of the General Directorate of Administrative, (DGRAD), the National Economy Administration, the National Social Security Fund (CNSS), the Environment Administration, the National Employment Office (ONEM), the National Institute for Professional Preparation (INPP), the General Labor Inspectorate (IGT), and the Representation of Municipalities. Businesses may also need to obtain an operating permit, as required by some municipalities. The registration process is now supposed to take three days, but in practice it can take much longer. Some businesses have reported that the GUCE has significantly shortened and simplified the overall business registration process, while others have complained that they need to hire a consultant to manage the process.

Outward Investment

The GDRC does not promote or incentivize outward investment.
There are currently no government restrictions preventing domestic investors from investing abroad, and there is currently no blacklist of countries with which domestic investors are prohibited from doing business.

The United States and the DRC signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in 1984, which entered into force in 1989. The BIT guarantees reciprocal rights and privileges to investors from each country and provides that any claim arising under the treaty may be submitted to international arbitration.
On January 1, 2021, the DRC regained eligibility for African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) benefits after a 10-year exclusion due to concerns about Human Rights Violations. AGOA provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for African countries. Congo already received duty-free treatment under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences for its main exports, copper, and cobalt.

The DRC also has Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) with France, Switzerland, Germany, and the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union (BLEU). The DRC has signed trade and investment treaties with the United Arab Emirates, Turkiye, Rwanda, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Portugal, Italy, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Jordan, Ukraine, Egypt, and Greece, but these have not yet entered into force. Kenya, Lebanon, Côte d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso have negotiated but not signed BITs with the DRC. In June 2022, the DRC, accusing Rwanda of supporting the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels engaged in a military offensive in eastern DRC, suspended all trade agreements with Rwanda.

In March 2021, the DRC signed economic, commercial, and technical cooperation agreements with Qatar to guarantee the security and protection of massive investments. These agreements provide for the modernization and development of airport and port infrastructure, as well as capacity building for Congolese sectoral experts. In June, the DRC and Namibia discussed the formalization of a trade agreement for the supply of horse mackerel. In October 2021, the DRC and Angola signed a trade agreement covering taxation, customs, and transport, and in September 2021, an agreement on the exploitation of oil of mutual interest. The DRC and Zambia signed a bilateral trade agreement between the two countries as part of the improvement and development of their cross-border trade, including the advancement of the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the importation of maize and maize meal.

In February 2022, the DRC deposited its instrument of ratification, becoming the 42nd country to ratify the continent-wide African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The DRC signed the AfCFTA in March 2018, and the National Assembly approved the treaty in April 2021. The agreement aims to facilitate imports and exports between member countries – with reduced or zero tariffs, free market access and market information, and the elimination of trade barriers.
On July 11, 2022, the DRC deposited its instrument of ratification and became the 7th partner state of the East African Community (EAC), agreeing to cooperation with all Partner States in all sectors, programs and activities that promote the four (4) pillars of regional integration namely: Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union, and Political Federation.

The United States, Zambia, and the DRC signed a MOU on the electric vehicle (EV) battery industry in December 2022. Through the MOU, the United States will support the commitment of the DRC and Zambia to jointly develop an EV battery value chain and build a productive supply chain from mine to assembly line, upholding international standards, including committing to prevent, detect, and take legal action to combat corruption throughout the process.
There is no bilateral tax treaty between the United States and the DRC. U.S. companies have reported difficulties with tax authorities due to arbitrary application of the tax code. The DRC is not a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting.

Transparency of the Regulatory System

The 2018 Law on Pricing, Freedom, and Competition (the “Competition Act”) established a Competition Commission. DRC law mandates review if the turnover of a company is equal to or exceeds the amount determined by decree of the Prime Minister on the proposal of the Minister of Economy; if the party in question also holds a combined market share of 25% or more; or if the contemplated transaction creates/reinforces an already dominant position. DRC law requires notification prior to a corporate merger. The DRC is a member of the regional competition bodies, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which includes an operational merger regime. Merger activities in the DRC should comply with COMESA standards.

There are no informal regulatory processes managed by nongovernmental organizations or private sector associations that discriminate against foreign investors. However, some U.S. investors perceive regulations in the mining and agricultural sectors mandating a percentage of local ownership as discriminatory against foreign investment.

Proposed laws and regulations are rarely published in draft form for public discussion and comment; discussion is usually limited to the government agency proposing the bill and the parliament before enactment. Sometimes the government will hold a public hearing after public appeals. The Official Gazette of the DRC is a specialized service of the Presidency of the Republic that publishes and disseminates legislative and regulatory texts, judicial decisions, acts of companies, associations and political parties, designs, industrial models, trademarks, and any other act referred to in the law. Further information is available at .

There are no formal or informal GDRC provisions that systematically impede foreign investment. Businesses often complain of administrative hurdles, as laws and regulations are often poorly or unevenly applied.

The DRC is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (Organisation pour l’Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires – (OHADA), which covers francophone African countries. OHADA, a system of accounting, legal and regulatory procedures, covers the legal framework in the areas of contract, company and bankruptcy law and establishes an accounting system more in line with international standards. A Coordination Committee in the DRC oversees the implementation of OHADA.

The GDRC does not promote voluntary disclosure or require mandatory companies’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosures to facilitate transparency and/or help investors and consumers distinguish between high- and low-quality investments. However, some companies believe that meeting international ESG standards can attract new financing and are taking steps to ensure that their companies are ESG compliant. These companies believe that through compliance with international ESG standards, they can have a positive impact on the communities in which they do business and on the protection of the environment.
Oversight mechanisms are weak, and the law often does not require audits to ensure that internal management controls are in place or that administrative procedures are followed. Businesses often complain that they face administrative barriers, with the government often poorly or unevenly enforcing laws and regulations. However, there are regulatory authorities in various sectors that ensure compliance with laws, regulations, conventions, etc. to ensure effective and fair competition for the benefit of consumers and to provide legal and regulatory certainty for private investors. Some of these authorities can issue, suspend, or withdraw authorizations and establish corresponding specifications.

Following the decree signed by the Prime Minister in March 2022, a new public entity, the Agency for the Management, Coordination, and Monitoring of Cooperation Agreements between the DRC and Private Partners (APCSC), was created. It replaces the Bureau for the Coordination and Monitoring of the Sino-Congolese Program (BCPSC), created by former President Kabila and limited to agreements with Chinese investors. The APCSC will act as an interface between the various parties and entities interested in cooperating on basic infrastructure and natural resources projects.

In August 2021, the DRC created the National Agency for Export Promotion (ANAPEX) to identify and attract foreign investment in sectors with export potential. Through ANAPEX, the DRC will be able to leverage its regional commitments and target the Asian, European, and American markets to increase exports and further diversify its international markets. The enforcement process is subject to legal review, is sometimes digitized, and is otherwise made accountable to the public. Public and private institutions responsible for the oversight and regulation of various sectors make enforcement mechanisms publicly available. Regulatory agencies regularly publish their data and make it available to the business community and development partners. This allows for scientific and data-driven reviews and assessments.
In 2022, the GDRC made significant progress in ensuring that actual government revenues reasonably matched those in the enacted national budget. The government prepared and publicly issued a revised budget when budget expenditures deviated significantly from budget projections. The government made its executive budget proposal and enacted budget widely and easily available online within a reasonable time. Information on debt obligations was publicly available, except for information on the debt of major State-Owned Enterprises. However, the GDRC strives to promote transparency in public finances and debt obligations (including explicit and contingent liabilities) by publishing information on .

International Regulatory Considerations

The DRC is a member of several regional economic blocs, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (ECGLC). In July 2022, the DRC joined the East African Community (EAC). The Congolese parliament ratified the laws and regulations of the EAC before the agreement came into force. The DRC has made efforts to harmonize its system with these regional bodies.
According to the Congolese National Standardization Committee, the DRC has adopted 370 harmonized COMESA standards. These standards are based on the European Union system.
The DRC is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is committed to complying with the requirements of the Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIMs), including notification of all draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).

Legal System and Judicial Independence

The DRC is a civil code country and the main provisions of its private law date back to the Napoleonic Civil Code. The general characteristics of the Congolese legal system are similar to those of the Belgian system (i.e., codified Romano-Germanic law). Various local laws govern both personal status and property rights, including inheritance and land tenure systems in traditional communities throughout the country. The Congolese legal system consists of three branches: public law, private law, and commercial law. Public law governs legal relationships involving the state or state authority; private law governs relationships between private individuals; and commercial law governs interactions in areas such as labor, commerce, mining, and investment.

The DRC has written commercial and contractual laws. The DRC has 13 commercial courts located in its main business cities, including Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Matadi, Boma, Kisangani and Mbuji-Mayi. These courts are supposed to be run by professional judges specialized in commercial matters and exist in parallel with the judicial system. However, a lack of qualified personnel and the reluctance of some DRC jurisdictions to fully recognize OHADA law and institutions have hindered the development of commercial courts. Legal documents in the DRC can be found at: .

The current executive branch does not reportedly interfere in judicial matters. The current judicial process procedurally is not viewed as competent, fair, or reliable and its decisions are not always respected. Under OHADA, the national court system provides an appeal mechanism.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The Investment Code of 2002 regulates most foreign direct investments (FDI) and provides for the protection of investments. Law n°004/2002 of the Investment Code, through the provisions of Articles 23-30, provides the mechanisms of security and guarantees for investments, as well as customs, tax, and parafiscal exemptions. The Constitution and the laws of the country stipulate that the property (private and collective) of all persons in the DRC is sacred. The GDRC guarantees the right to individual or collective property acquired in accordance with the law or custom. It promotes and guarantees the security of private, national, and foreign investments. No one may be deprived of his or her property except for reasons of public utility and in return for fair and prior compensation granted under the conditions established by law; the State guarantees the right of private initiative to both nationals and foreigners.

The telecommunications law came into force in 2021, marking the first revision of the law since 2002. According to this law, the legal entity benefiting from a license must be in the form of a limited liability company. A minimum of 30 percent of the company’s capital must be distributed as follows:

  • At least 25 percent shall be held by Congolese individuals or legal entities whose shares are held by Congolese individuals. This subscription must become effective within three years of the Company being incorporated.
  • Five percent shall be reserved for Congolese nationals employed by the Company.

This law covers new information and communication technologies not covered by the 2002 Telecommunications Act. This is the case for the internet and for a number of other services. It redefines the public operator regime by removing any notion of monopoly and opening up all activities in the telecommunications and ICT sectors to competition. It introduces tariff rules and rules meant to guarantee fair competition between operators, as well as specific obligations for large operators. It includes competition controls for market-dominant operators.

The GUCE is a One-Stop-Shop designed to simplify the process of starting a business. The GUCE has reduced the official processing time from five months to three days, and for corporations, the fee has been reduced from $120 to $80. For sole proprietorships, the fee has been reduced from $40 to $30. For more information, visit . There is also an Integrated One-Stop-Shop for Foreign Trade (GUICE), which is a neutral, transparent, and secure electronic platform accessible 24 hours a day to the entire foreign trade community. It centralizes all regulatory, customs and logistical components related to the import, export, and transit of goods. GUICE is operated by SEGUCE RDC SA, a private operator within the framework of a public-private partnership. For more information, visit .

Competition and Antitrust Laws

The Competition Commission – COMCO is the regulatory and supervisory body for competition in the DRC under the Organic Law No. 18/020 on Freedom of Pricing and Competition and the COMESA Competition Regulation. It ensures that the rules of free competition are respected by economic operators. This Commission works to enable all economic operators, according to their capacities, to exercise fair competition based on the quality of goods, products, and services, while respecting the official price structure. Its priorities are acquisitions and mergers (investigation, evaluation, and monitoring of acquisitions and mergers), business practices and exemptions (investigation of anti-competitive practices), consumer welfare (action against violators) and awareness of good practices (good practices and anti-competitive consequences).

In 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered GDRC to pay a USD 619 million liability judgment to South African company Dig Oil for breach of contract. The GDRC is considering settling the judgment but has not yet done so. In August 2021, the Minister of Justice informed the GDRC of six emblematic cases of international litigation. The main causes of the DRC’s multiple liabilities in these cases are the poor management of the disputes by the sectoral authorities, the late transmission of files to the Ministry of Justice, and the failure to respect the results of arbitration. President Tshisekedi has called for better monitoring of cases involving the DRC before the courts in order to reduce the risk to the state for hundreds of millions of dollars in liabilities.

As a member of COMESA, the DRC is subject to the COMESA Competition Regulations and Rules and the COMESA Competition Authority regulates competition. The Agency’s decisions may be appealed to the courts/judicial system.

Expropriation and Compensation

The GDRC may expropriate when it serves the public interest and the person or entity expropriated must receive fair compensation. There have been no allegations of property expropriation in the past three years.

A number of expropriation claims have been taken to arbitration, although many of the arbitration awards against the GDRC have not resulted in payment.

Businesses report that the GDRC imposes heavy fees and irregular taxes. This is a form of financial expropriation. Since the tax system is often unclear and several government agencies levy different taxes, often government agencies impose a fine for non-payment of taxes. There is often a long wait for companies to challenge these fines in court.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

The DRC is a Party to the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention, also known as the Washington Convention), and a Contracting State to the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. There is no specific domestic legislation providing for enforcement of awards under the 1958 New York Convention and under the ICSID Convention.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

The DRC is subject to international arbitration. The DRC is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), which provides for binding international arbitration of investment disputes.

The DRC has had a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with the United States since 1984. A U.S. mining company filed a claim under the BIT to recover losses it suffered when troops from the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) looted its mine in Kasaï-Central Province in 1995. On November 19, 2007, the arbitral tribunal found the GDRC liable for damages totaling USD 13 million, and on November 24, 2009, the GDRC began repaying the U.S. company the amount awarded, plus interest.

There have been no investment disputes involving U.S. person or companies in the past decade.

The DRC law recognizes foreign arbitral awards in countries that are party to ICSID Convention and the New York Convention. It emphasizes the arbitration of disputes arising from commercial relations because of its speed, neutrality, and efficiency. However, in its instrument of ratification, the DRC made reservations that: preclude the enforcement of arbitral awards made prior to the DRC’s ratification; exclude cases relating to sovereign property of the DRC; insist that arbitral awards can only be enforced in commercial disputes and not in other areas. Finally, the DRC will not apply the New York Convention to non-parties to the Convention.

Under the Kabila government, there were allegations of extrajudicial actions against foreign investors, including the imposition of fines and imprisonment. In one case, an investor left the country after being imprisoned without trial for alleged corruption. Under the Tshisekedi government, foreign investors have reported cases of harassment to Post, usually related to enforcing payment of irregular taxes and fines.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

The DRC has adopted the OHADA Uniform Act on Arbitration (the UAA). The UAA sets out the basic rules applicable to all arbitrations where the seat of arbitration is located in an OHADA Member State. The requirements of Article 5 of the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards apply when the seat of arbitration is located outside an OHADA member state, or where the parties choose arbitration rules other than the UAA.

The OHADA UAA provides an alternative dispute resolution mechanism for the settlement of disputes between two parties where the place of arbitration is in a Member State. Disputes must be submitted to the Common Court of Justice and Arbitration (CCJA) in Abidjan in accordance with the provisions of the OHADA Treaty and the OHADA Arbitration Rules.

The UAA is not directly based on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law. However, it is similar in that it provides for the recognition and enforcement of arbitration agreements and arbitral awards and supersedes national laws on arbitration to the extent of any conflict. Arbitral awards relating to an OHADA Member State are given final and binding effect in all OHADA Member States in the same way as a judgment given by a national court. Support is provided by the CCJA, which may rule on the application and interpretation of the UAA.

Arbitral awards made in any OHADA Member State are enforceable in the domestic courts of any other OHADA Member State, subject to exequatur (a legal act emanating from a sovereign authority and permitting the enforcement of a right within the jurisdiction of that authority) being obtained from the competent court of the State in which the award is to be enforced. Exequatur will be granted unless the award is manifestly contrary to the public policy of that State. Decisions to grant or deny exequatur may be appealed to the CCJA.

In domestic cases involving State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), the courts often rule in favor of the SOEs. Typically, companies that are unable to obtain a favorable decision in domestic courts turn to international tribunals for redress. This often drags out the legal process for years.

Bankruptcy Regulations

The OHADA Uniform Act on Insolvency and Restructuring in Africa, a Uniform Act Organizing Collective Proceedings for Wiping Off Debts, provides a comprehensive framework not only for businesses in financial distress seeking to avoid the pressing demands of creditors, but also for creditors to file their claims. The GDRC court system has agreed to apply the OHADA Bankruptcy Act. Bankruptcy is not criminalized.

Investment Incentives

The Investment Code of 2002 provides for attractive customs and tax exemptions for investors who submit their investment plans to ANAPI. Once the project is approved by ANAPI within a maximum period of 30 days, the investor will benefit from the following customs, fiscal and parafiscal advantages: (1) exemption from import duties and taxes on machinery, materials and equipment (except for the 2% administrative tax and VAT (to be paid in advance by the promoter, but refunded by the tax authorities); (2) exemption from income tax; (3) exemption from property tax; and (4) exemption from proportional taxes on the creation of a limited liability company or the increase of its share capital.

The duration of the benefits granted is from three to five years, depending on the economic region in which the investment is located: three years for economic region A (Kinshasa, the capital); four years for economic region B (Bas-Congo, cities of Lubumbashi, Likasi, Kolwezi); and five years for economic region C (the rest of the country).

The conditions for access to the benefits of the investment code are simple: establishment as an economic entity under Congolese law; the total cost of the planned investment (all expenses included) must be at least USD 200,000 (or at least USD 10,000 for SMEs/SMIs); a commitment to comply with environmental regulations; a commitment to comply with labor regulations; and a guarantee that the investment has a value-added rate of at least 35%. There are no additional incentives for businesses owned by underrepresented investors, such as women.

The GDRC does not have a practice of issuing guarantees or jointly financing foreign direct investment projects.

Beyond the incentives provided in the Investment Code, the GDRC does not offer additional incentives such as feed-in tariffs, discounts on electricity rates, or tax incentives, for net-zero or clean energy investments (including renewable energy, energy storage, energy efficiency, clean hydrogen, carbon sequestration, low-carbon transport, and fuels, and other decarbonization technologies). A group of off-grid power producers is lobbying the government to provide an import tax exemption for off-grid solar products imported into the DRC.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

The DRC has no areas designated as Free Trade Zones or Duty-Free Zones. The DRC is a signatory to SADC but is not a member of the SADC Free Trade Area. In February 2022, the DRC deposited its instrument of ratification and became the 42nd country to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA). The agreement aims to facilitate imports and exports between member countries through reduced or zero tariffs, free market access and market information, and the elimination of trade barriers, with numerous benefits for SMEs. In March 2022, the DRC joined the East African Community (EAC) as its seventh member, massively expanding the trading bloc’s territory, giving it access to the Atlantic Ocean and greatly increasing the number of francophones in this club of former British colonies.

In 2014, it promulgated the law n°14/022, which establishes the regime of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in the DRC. To date, six areas have been defined for the creation of SEZs: The Kinshasa Area Industrial Zone, which includes the Kinshasa City Province, the Kongo Central Province, and the former Bandundu Province; the Kasai Area Industrial Zone, which includes the provinces of Kasaï, Kasaï Central, Eastern Kasaï, Lomami, and Sankuru; the former Katanga Province Industrial Zone; the Great Kivu Industrial Zone; the former Eastern Province Industrial Zone; and the former Equateur Province Industrial Zone. According to the provisions of article 6 of this law, the management of the SEZs in the DRC is the responsibility of a public institution called the “Agency of Special Economic Zones (AZES)”.

In order to attract and promote investments in SEZs, the GDRC, in accordance with the provisions of the Law on SEZs, issued Decree No. 20/004 of March 5, 2020, to establish advantages and facilities for investors operating in SEZs in the DRC.

  • For developers: a total exemption from property, equipment, and business taxes on profits for 10 years, renewable once after evaluation; a 50 percent reduced rate from the 21st year for non-tax revenues; a total exemption from import duties and taxes on machinery, tools and new or used equipment, capital goods, etc. for 10 years, etc.
  • For companies: a total exemption from property, movable and professional taxes on profits for 5 years, renewable once after evaluation; a 50 percent reduced rate from the 11th year for non-tax revenues; an application of the exceptional depreciation system; a total exemption from import duties and taxes on machinery, tools, and equipment, new or used, and capital goods for 10 years; an exemption from export duties and taxes on finished products for 10 years.

On November 4, 2020, the GDRC launched the construction of the first Special Economic Zone – Maluku SEZ in Kinshasa, with the aim of attracting foreign investment and stimulating the creation of local businesses. This SEZ offers tax and regulatory benefits to investors and entrepreneurs, including a 5-to-10-year tax holiday. For more information, please visit . Since then, the GDRC has established five new SEZs, which have a 60 (3/5) percent occupancy rate, currently dominated by Indian companies, including a Pepsi bottler, pharmaceutical producers, and Chinese companies specializing in the production of ceramic tiles and the production and sale of GAC GA3s (Chinese) automobiles.

In August 2021, the GDRC presented its Industrialization Master Plan (PDI), accompanied by a cost estimate of the structuring and industrialization infrastructure. The transportation and communication infrastructure package (airport, rail, river, lake, maritime, road, and energy), along with the densification of SEZs, is estimated at $58.3 billion.

In April 2022, the DRC and the Republic of Zambia signed the Cooperation Agreement for the Joint Management of the Electric Vehicle Battery Production Project. With the signing of this agreement, these two states committed themselves to the establishment of a joint governance framework called the “Zambia and DRC Battery Council, chaired by the Presidents of these two respective countries and the Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa – UNECA, as well as Afreximbank, with the support of a technical committee in charge of monitoring and evaluation”. They agreed to establish special economic zones to produce battery precursors, batteries, and electric vehicles.

The GRDC and UNECA will accelerate the operationalization of the cross-border SEZ, which will host the first electric battery precursor manufacturing plant. This commitment was made at the 2nd Pan-African Mining Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in October 2022. The United States signed a MoU with the DRC and Zambia to support the development of an electric vehicle (EV) value chain on the sidelines of the U.S.-Africa Summit in December 2022, which aims to develop a clean minerals value chain that will produce EV batteries for western markets, thus increasing employment in the DRC and Zambia and providing a product that companies can buy without concerns for labor and environmental abuses.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The DRC does not follow “forced localization”, the policy in which foreign investors must use domestic content in goods or technology. The DRC does not have specific legislation on data storage or restrictions on data transfer. However, investors benefiting from the Investment Code regime must guarantee that the investment has a value-added rate of at least 35%.

There are no known procedures for enforcing performance requirements in the DRC.

The GDRC does not require foreign IT providers to turn over source code and/or provide access to encryption. Wireless companies must meet technology performance requirements to maintain their license.

According to GDRC officials, the Ministry of Digitalization is developing measures to prevent or restrict companies from freely transferring customer data or data to other companies outside the economy/country. These measures may go beyond the requirements for data transferred within the country.

In November 2020, President Tshisekedi issued Act n°20/017 on Telecommunications and Information and Communication Technology. Articles 126 to 133 of this law provide for the right to privacy and the protection of personal data in telecommunications and information and communication technologies. This protection of privacy is guaranteed by the right to privacy of correspondence for all users of telecommunications networks and services and information and communication technologies (ICT). The law therefore prohibits any interception, listening, recording, transcription, or disclosure of correspondence without prior authorization from the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Cassation. The authorization of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Cassation, which is renewable for a period of three months, must be documented in a judicial file and must include all the elements that identify the targeted connection, the offense that justifies the interception, as well as the duration of the interception. The Congolese Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ARPTC) regulates and controls the protection of personal data.

Real Property

The Constitution of the DRC proclaims the inviolability of property. The DRC guarantees the right to individual or collective property acquired in accordance with the law or custom. No one may be deprived of his property except in the public interest and in return for fair and prior compensation granted under the conditions laid down by law. Property may not be confiscated except by decision of a competent judicial authority. Despite this provision, the DRC recognized the lack of enforcement to protect property rights.

The Constitution and the Land Code are instruments that effectively contribute to women’s security in relation to real property. Any woman who is the owner of real property must secure it through the acquisition of a registration certificate, which is the only legal title of ownership recognized in the DRC. For married women, the security of their real property is a function of the matrimonial regime they have contracted. For this reason, the population is widely informed so that the contracted matrimonial regime can be respected.

The Congolese law on property rights contains provisions on mortgages and liens. Real property (buildings and land) is protected and registered by the Office of the Registrar of Mortgages of the Ministry of Land Affairs. Registration of real property does not fully protect owners, as records are not digitalized, are often incomplete, and disputes over land transactions are common. Many property owners do not have clear and registered title to their property.

Since May 2021, the DRC has been working on its plan to digitize the cadastre and secure real property titles. The DRC’s land administration system is gradually being digitized. In the short term, the computerization and digitization of land procedures will improve public services related to land management. The e-Foncier project, which has been under development since August 2022, will enable the GDRC to ensure transparency of land activities; provide real property security for investors as well as private individuals; electronically store all data collected in a database accessible to all public authorities; resolve land conflicts, which represent 80 percent of the cases handled. More information is available at .

Article 61 of Law No. 73-021 of 1973 on the general regime of property, the regime of land and real estate and the system of securities, as amended and supplemented by Law No. 80-008 of 1980, stipulates that “a concession is a contract by which the State grants to a community, a natural person or a legal person, private or public, the right to use land, under the conditions provided for in this law and its implementing regulations. However, a perpetual concession is available only to Congolese individuals. Foreigners and legal entities can only have access to an ordinary concession, which cannot exceed 25 years. However, the latter may be renewed at the discretion of the State. In the event of non-renewal, the law provides for compensation to the concessionaire in certain cases (long-term lease, surface area). This compensation may not exceed 75 percent of the current and intrinsic value of the buildings on the land. The land is owned and administered by the GDRC. Government officials with the status of property title registrars issue registration certificates to individuals in their respective land districts.

In November 2022, the Ministry of Land Affairs presented a bill amending and supplementing Law No. 73-021 of July 20, 1973, on general property, land, and real estate. The aim of this bill is to end legal insecurity, maximize public revenues, digitize land titles, and recognize the power of customary chiefs in land management.

Less than 10 percent of the land has a clear title, but the GDRC is in the process of promoting and encouraging people to regularize their property titles by purchasing a final title called a “Registration Certificate” (Certificat d’Enregistrement).

All unowned property belongs to the State, but if the legally acquired property is unoccupied, it cannot revert to other owners (such as squatters). Ownership rights to personal property (equipment, vehicles, etc.) are protected and registered by the Ministry of the Interior’s Notary Office.

Intellectual Property Rights

The DRC is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 report.

The DRC is also not listed in the notorious market report.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are legally protected in the DRC, but IPR enforcement is limited, and IP theft is common. Law n°82-001 of 1982 on Intellectual Property (IP) organizes the procedure for IP protection. Registration is done in three steps with the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Industry, which is the competent body for IP in the DRC: (1) Filing of the dossier – after paying the official fees, the applicant must file his dossier. Upon filing, the applicant receives a filing number indicating the date and time of filing. This number is used to prove the earlier filing of the IP. (2) Examination of the application and (3) Registration of the application. This administrative process can take from six to nine months. The applicant may proceed alone or be accompanied and assisted by an Industrial Property Agent.

The law provides several instruments for the protection of IP against those who seek to appropriate or use it without the owner’s consent; in particular, the infringement action or the opposition, which makes it possible to prevent infringements of IP. A registered trademark is protected for ten years, renewable, starting from the date of filing. If an applicant wishes to use only the word element separately from the registered logo, or vice versa, then it is highly advisable to file a separate trademark application for only the word or figurative elements. Interested third parties may file oppositions against a trademark application within one month from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette. A registered trademark may be cancelled by any interested party if it has not been used for three consecutive years. The patent allows to benefit from a monopoly of exploitation of an innovation on the Congolese territory for a limited period of 20 years. The initial registration of an industrial design or model provides protection for five years, renewable once. Copyright protection exists upon the creation of a literary or artistic work, and the creator does not have to register the work to enjoy copyright protection. The standard copyright term is the author’s lifetime plus 50 years after death. However, the term varies depending on the type of work created. The term of copyright protection is 50 years from the date of publication for anonymous, pseudonymous, or posthumous works. For photographic works, copyright protection is 25 years from the date of publication. The GDRC has yet joined the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), which offers greater protection for trademarks (a protection valid in 16 African countries).

No new IP-related laws or regulations were enacted during the past year. No reform bills are pending. The country is a signatory to agreements with international organizations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is subject to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

The country tracks and reports seizures of counterfeit goods but does not keep a public record of IPR violations. Information on these seizures is often reported by the Congolese Office of Control (OCC) – [Office Congolais de Contrôle]- which is responsible for enforcing laws, regulations, and standards on the conformity of products, goods, procedures, and services. SOCODA is the Congolese Society for Copyright and Related Rights, the only organization in charge of collecting and distributing copyrights in the DRC. The society manages all rights, in all disciplines, with a monopoly recognized by law. Artists have publically expressed their concern about the management of SOCODA.

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The GDRC welcomes investment, including from foreign portfolio investors. A small number of private equity firms are actively investing in the mining sector. The institutional investor base is starting to grow, with 41 participants from the insurance sector and a state pension fund. There is no derivatives market in the country. Cross-ownership and stable shareholding arrangements are also not common. Lending is on market terms, but there are occasional complaints about unfair privileges for some investors in profitable sectors such as mining and telecommunications.

The DRC’s capital market remains underdeveloped and consists mainly of the issuance of Treasury bonds. There is no domestic stock market. The Central Bank of the Congo (BCC) has developed a market for short-term bonds, but most of these bonds are purchased and held by local Congolese banks. In the absence of a domestic debt market, the GDRC introduced index-linked treasury bonds in 2019 to address weak revenue mobilization and diversify its sources of financing to cover continued high government spending. To guarantee the same value of the money lent to the state, the GDRC has allowed the Treasury bills to be indexed to the exchange value of the dollar from 2021 onwards, in order to compensate for the possible volatility of the Congolese franc (CDF). Although reforms have been initiated, the DRC financial system remains small, heavily dollarized, and characterized by fragile balance sheets. In the area of financial regulation and supervision, the IMF confirmed that the central bank currently has the basic tools for risk-based supervision in line with the recommendations of the 2014 Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP). To confirm the shift to risk-based supervision, the rating system needs to be fully integrated into the banking supervision process. However, early warning indicators and early intervention procedures need to be improved. Banking regulations need to be reviewed to be fully consistent with the new banking law, and an instruction could be drafted to consolidate the rules on related party transactions. Measures on operational risk and control of IT and cyber risks need to be pursued. In the longer term, the BCC should implement Basel III on liquidity. Payment institutions need appropriate and adapted prudential regulations. Further reforms are needed to strengthen the financial system, sustain its expansion, and stimulate economic growth. Inadequate risk-based controls, weak regulatory enforcement, low profitability, and excessive reliance on demand deposits undermine the resilience of the financial system.

The Central Bank respects IMF Article VIII by refraining from restrictions on payments and transfers for current international transactions.

Foreign companies can borrow from local banks, but their options are limited. Loan terms are generally limited to 3-6 months, and interest rates typically range from 16-21%. The inconsistent legal system, the often-difficult business climate, and the difficulty of obtaining interbank financing discourage banks from making long-term loans. The ability to finance large projects in the local currency, the Congolese franc (CDF), is limited.

Money and Banking System

The Congolese financial system consists of 15 licensed banks; the National Institute of Social Security (INSS); a development bank, SOFIDE (Société financière de développement); a savings fund (CADECO); approximately 21 microfinance institutions and 72 cooperatives; 81 money transfer institutions concentrated in Kinshasa, the former provinces of Bandundu and Katanga (both now divided into several other provinces), and the provinces of Kongo Central, North Kivu, and South Kivu; four electronic money issuing institutions; and 48 bureaux de change. In 2015, a major reform was carried out in the insurance sector, resulting in the liberalization of the market through the promulgation of Law No. 15/005 of 17 March 2015 on the Insurance Code. As a result, the country has gone from one national insurance company (SONAS) to 41 players and the country’s turnover has increased from USD 70 million in 2018 to more than USD 268 million in 2022.

While the financial system is improving, it remains fragmented and dominated by so-called “local” commercial banks. Despite very different profiles (international, local, pan-African, networked, corporate, etc.) and fundamentally different approaches to management, governance, and risk appetite, the local banks continue to dominate the banking sector. However, more progressive pan-African banks are increasing their presence in the DRC, notably with the recent acquisitions of Banque Commerciale du Congo (BCDC) by Kenyan Equity Group Holdings and Trust Merchant Bank (TMB) by Kenya Commercial Bank Group (KCB Group). The country’s financial system is characterized by the predominance of foreign currency loans, which account for nearly 90 percent of banking activity, as well as high operating costs and taxes. Despite excess liquidity, credit to the economy remains weak and the banking sector is exposed to risks. In addition, the financial system suffers from macro-financial vulnerabilities, including low capital adequacy in the banking system, difficulties in the valuation of non-performing loans (NPL) as a result of COVID-19 measures, risks associated with dollarization, the breakdown of correspondent banking relationships (CBRs) due to risk mitigation, and the control of liquidity in the DRC by bank subsidiaries from their parent companies abroad.

The BCC controls monetary policy and regulates the banking system. Banking penetration is about 8.3 percent, or about 6.1 million accounts, not including accounts in microfinance institutions. Mobile banking has the potential to significantly increase the number of bank customers, as an estimated 35 million Congolese use mobile phones, however merchants are reluctant to move from cash-only transactions. Over the past five years, there has been an evolution and consolidation of prudential ratios or risk indicators in the banking sector and the introduction of alternative channels for financial service delivery and inclusion, such as branch banking and mobile banking. Mobile money continues to play an increasingly important role in financial inclusion in the DRC. Over the past decade, mobile money subscriptions in the DRC have grown by 20% per year. There is no debt market. The financial health of DRC banks is fragile due to high operating costs and exchange rates. In 2021, asset quality measures taken by the BCC allowed banks to absorb the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fees charged by banks are an important source of their revenue.

Statistics on non-performing loans (NPLs) are not available because many banks record only the balance due and not the total amount of their NPLs.

The DRC’s financial system is primarily based on the banking sector, with total assets estimated at $8.5 billion. Of the six largest banks, four are local and two are controlled by foreign holding companies. The six largest banks hold nearly 65 percent of bank deposits and more than 60 percent of total bank assets, or about $5.1 billion. An IMF report on the Congolese financial system notes that total deposits in commercial banks increased from $5.63 billion in March 2020 to $10.33 billion in September 2021.

The DRC has an operational central bank system with Citigroup as the sole correspondent bank.

Foreign banks or branches are allowed to establish operations in the country when they are accredited by the BCC. They are then considered Congolese banks with foreign capital and are subject to the rules and regulations governing the activities of credit institutions in the DRC.

There are no restrictions on a foreigner’s ability to establish a bank account in the DRC.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

International wire transfers are permitted when made through local commercial banks. Bank reporting requirements and payments for international transfers take less than a week. In order to prevent money laundering and terrorism, any payment made in Congolese francs or any other amount equal to or exceeding USD 10,000 may not be made in cash or in bearer securities. An order issued by the Governor of the BCC shall determine the cases and conditions in which an exemption may be granted, in particular to economic operators regularly registered in the new commercial register, to holders of precious materials purchase counters and their employees, to agricultural operators and their employers. Any transfer to or from abroad of funds, securities, or valuables in an amount equal to or greater than USD 10,000 must be made through a credit institution or its intermediary. This law provides for a 50% penalty for any person attempting to cross the borders of the DRC with USD 10,000 or its equivalent in local currency.

The DRC requires the central bank to issue licenses to exporters and importers. The informal foreign exchange market in the DRC is large and unregulated, offering exchange rates slightly more favorable than the official rate. Central bank regulations establish the Congolese franc (CDF) as the primary currency for all transactions within the DRC, which is required to pay for education, medical care, water and electricity consumption, housing rents, and national taxes. Exceptions to this rule occur when both parties and the relevant monetary authorities agree to use another currency. Retail markets, grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses accept (and often prefer) dollars.

The CDF exchange rate is floating, but the central bank closely monitors the rate and intervenes to keep the exchange rate stable.

Remittance Policies

Some aspects of the DRC’s remittance regulatory environment have been found to be very permissive (e.g., microfinance institutions are allowed to provide remittance services, which is quite rare in the region), while other aspects of the regulatory framework are likely to increase barriers to formalization of the industry. To obtain a Category B license for outbound remittances, operators must offer remittances as their primary business, limiting their ability to subsidize overheads by offering other financial services. Furthermore, the DRC has applied relatively strict anti-money laundering requirements to the remittance market. Restrictions on high-value transactions are often stricter than those recommended by the FATF regarding transaction limits.

There are no legal restrictions on converting or transferring funds. Exchange regulations require a 60-day waiting period for foreigners in the country to remit income. Foreign investors may send remittances through parallel markets if they are legally established and recognized by the Central Bank.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

The DRC has no declared sovereign wealth fund (SWF), although the 2018 Mining Code refers to the creation of a future fund (FOMIN) to be capitalized by a percentage of mining revenues. In October 2021, the Technical Secretariat of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative organized a workshop to develop the FOMIN decree, as well as tools to manage the shares of mining royalties accruing to provinces and local entities. The FOMIN invited the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), and the Makuta wa Maendeleo Consortium – which is a platform of civil society organizations specialized in natural resources, including the Centre Carter, Justice for All, Resource Matters – to the workshop held in Kinshasa at the end of November 2022 to improve the regulatory framework of the FOMIN decree to make proposals that could ensure good governance of the Fund.

There are 20 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in the DRC, operating in the mining, transport, energy, telecommunications, finance, and hospitality sectors. There is a lack of reliable statistics on Congolese SOEs, although an independent audit of the mining SOE Gecamines was conducted in 2021. Historically, Congolese SOEs have stifled competition and failed to provide reliable electricity, transportation, and other essential services. Some Congolese SOEs and other parastatals are in poor financial and operational condition due to debt and poor management of resources and employees.

The list of SOEs can be found at: 

SOEs competing in the domestic market are not granted non-market financial or regulatory advantages by the GDRC. But in the past, the GDRC has encouraged foreign investors to partner with SOEs.

SOEs competing in the domestic market operate in accordance with commercial considerations, on terms that other market participants would offer or accept. SOEs competing in the domestic market provide non-discriminatory treatment in their purchase and sale of goods or services.

The DRC is not a party to the WTO’s procurement agreement (GPA), but nominally adheres to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs. The DRC is a participating country in the Southern Africa SOE network, with the Ministry of Portfolio and the Steering Committee for SOE Reforms (COPIREP) designated as Regularly Participating Institutions.

Privatization Program

There are no official privatization programs in the DRC. However, the recovery of state-owned enterprises remains at the heart of the challenges of reviving the national economy. Among the solutions recommended for the revitalization of these companies, the GDRC favors the scheme of state withdrawal and privatization, as promoted by the World Bank in 2010 through the COPIREP) To date, only a handful of SOEs have been reformed, with mixed results.

There is a general awareness of expectations of, or standards for, responsible business conduct (RBC), or business’ obligation to proactively conduct due diligence to ensure they are doing no harm (including with regards to environmental, social, and governance issues). The Global Compact Network DRC, a public-private consortium affiliated with the United Nations, encourages businesses operating in the country to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies.

The GDRC has not instituted or proposed requirements for businesses to conduct due diligence or reporting regarding human rights or other responsible business conduct issues for most industries, but there are provisions in the Labor Code to protect workers, and there are legal provisions that require companies to protect the environment.

The DRC has taken limited action to support RBC by encouraging businesses to develop and adhere to a code of ethics and respect for labor rights and the environment. However, the DRC does not have a legal framework to protect consumer rights, and there are no existing domestic laws to protect individuals from adverse business impacts.

Reports of children working in artisanal mines in the DRC have led to international pressure to find ways to ensure that the DRC’s mineral supply chain is free of child labor. Concerns about the use of child labor in the artisanal mining of copper and cobalt have led to concerns about the use of Congolese resources that have served to discourage potential buyers. In 2021, the GDRC made moderate progress in its efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. During the reporting period, the GDRC allocated 14 per cent of the national budget to primary education. The National Action Plan to Combat the Worst Forms of Child Labor was extended to 2025. U.S. government assistance programs to build capacity for labor inspection and enforcement are helping to address these concerns.

Economic pressures come into conflict with the DRC’s environmental commitments. One notable example is a rapidly expanding gold mine, owned by a Chinese corporation, that overlaps with the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. There are also several notable cases of environmental activists being threatened by local developers and not receiving protection.

There are no known high-profile, controversial instances of private sector impact on human rights or resolution of such cases in the recent past.

In relation to human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protections, and other laws/regulations intended to protect individuals from adverse business impacts, The GDRC has many challenges in the effective and fair enforcement of domestic laws.

The GDRC has not put in place corporate governance, accounting, and executive compensation standards to protect shareholders.

There are independent NGOs, investment funds, worker organizations/unions, and business associations promoting or monitoring RBC. They report misconduct and violations of good governance practices and monitor and/or advocate for RBC. They are free to do their work.

The DRC encourages adherence to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas, as well as several UN Security Council resolutions related to business and human rights in the Congolese mining sector. There are also existing domestic measures requiring supply chain due diligence for companies that source minerals that may originate from conflict-affected areas in the DRC.

The GDRC participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)) and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. More information is available at . The GDRC publishes reports on its revenues from natural resources. There are domestic transparency measures requiring disclosure of payments to governments and of RBC/Business and Human Rights policies or practices. The Mining Code provides for domestic transparency measures requiring disclosure of payments to governments, although they appear to be rarely enforced. PROMINES, a technical parastatal funded by the GDRC and the World Bank, aims to improve transparency in the artisanal mining sector. Amnesty International and Pact Inc. have also published reports on RBC in the DRC mining sector.

The DRC has a private security industry but does not make extensive use of private security companies for public institutions. The DRC is not a signatory of The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies. It does not support the International Code of Conduct or Private Security Service Providers, nor does it participate in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association (ICoCA).

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

Climate Issues

The GDRC has a national climate strategy and/or a strategy for monitoring natural capital such as biodiversity and ecosystem services that is not aligned with the UN System of Environmental-Economic Accounting. In October 2022, a bill for the integration of the “National System of Economic and Environmental Accounting” (SNCEE) was submitted to the Parliament to allow the DRC to overcome the shortcomings of the national accounting system. The GDRC has the following national climate change strategy documents: the National Policy, Strategy and Action Plan on Climate Change, the National Policy and Strategy Document on Climate Change in the DRC (2020-2024), the National Strategic Development Plan (PNSD), the Capacity Development Program for a Low Carbon Development Strategy, the Second National Communication to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the National Strategy for Biodiversity Conservation in DRC Protected Areas, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, and other key policy documents. The DRC’s vision in the fight against climate change is to promote a green, resilient, and low-carbon economy through the rational and sustainable management of its key natural resources to ensure ecological balance and the social, economic, cultural, and environmental well-being of its people.

The GDRC introduced a law in March 2023 that created a carbon tax and established a carbon market regulatory agency as part of its incentives to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The DRC ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997 (the Kyoto Protocol) in 2005 and the Paris Agreement in 2017. To this end, the DRC is firmly committed to taking action to mitigate its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, to preserve the Congo Basin Rainforest, and to adapt to the impacts of climate change, in accordance with Article 41 of the Paris Agreement. It has also submitted its first four National Communications on Climate Change to the UNFCCC for 2001, 2009, 2015, and 2021 respectively. At COP26 in 2021, the DRC committed to protecting 30% of its land for conservation and there are numerous donor funds to support this initiative and stimulate related investments.

Private sector organizations are key actors in achieving the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and implementing climate change adaptation and mitigation activities, as they are also affected by climate change. Some examples of private sector organizations are COPEMECO (Confederation of Small and Medium Enterprises), FIB (Federation of Timber Producers), FEC (Federation of Enterprises of Congo), SAFBOIS and SIFORCO, and agribusinesses. Their participation is necessary to enable the implementation of the climate change policy and law, both for the implementation of mitigation and/or adaptation measures and for the realization of NDCs and the provision of data and information for the operation of MRV and GHG inventories.

There are no policies that target specific commodities or supply chains as drivers of deforestation.

Public procurement policies in DRC include environmental and green growth considerations such as resource efficiency, pollution abatement, and climate resilience. Environmental impact is one of the evaluation criteria for bidders under the DRC’s Public Procurement Act.

The DRC’s constitution and legal code contain laws aimed at combating corruption and bribery by all citizens, including public officials. The Tshisekedi government targeted some public prosecutions of high-level officials and the creation of an anti-corruption unit (APLC) to improve DRC’s anti-corruption enforcement. Prosecutions have led to prison sentences, but often to early release, and no attempt at asset recovery. The 2021 edition of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranked the DRC 166 out of 180 countries, with a score of 20 out of 100, up from 19 out of 100 the previous year.

Anti-corruption laws extend to family members of officials and political parties. In March 2020, President Tshisekedi created the National Agency for the Prevention and Combating of Corruption (APLC). However, the agency remains underfunded and understaffed. Corruption investigations are currently underway against Managing Directors of SOEs and a number of provincial governors.

The DRC has laws or regulations to counter conflict-of-interest in awarding contracts or government procurement. Conflicts of interest committed in connection with a public contract or delegation of public services are punishable by a fine of between USD 12,500 and USD 25,000.

The GDRC, through regulatory agencies, encourages or requires private companies to establish internal codes of conduct that, among other things, prohibit bribery of public officials.

Law 017-2002 of 2002 establishes the Code of Conduct for Public Officials, which establishes rules of conduct regarding moral integrity and professional ethics and the fight against corruption in the socio-professional environment. Private companies use internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials.

The DRC is a party to both the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and a signatory to the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, though it has not ratified the latter. The DRC has not joined the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. The DRC has ratified an anti-corruption protocol with the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

NGOs such as the consortium “The Congo is Not for Sale” play an important role in exposing corrupt practices, and the law protects NGOs in a whistleblower role. However, in 2021, whistleblowers from Afriland First Bank, who alleged to the international NGO Global Witness an interaction between U.S.-sanctioned individual Dan Gertler and the bank, were prosecuted and sentenced to death in absentia in a private trial. Although the government worked with Global Witness to contest the case and sentence, it remained unresolved as of early 2022. NGOs reported governmental and other obstacles to their efforts to publicize and/or fight corruption. The Observatory of Public Expenditure (ODEP), which works with civil society organizations, raises awareness of the social impact of the implementation of financial laws to improve transparency and accountability in the management of public finances, participate in the fight against corruption, and promote citizen participation in each stage of the budget process.

U.S. companies cite corruption, predatory taxation, and harassment by local security forces as one of the main obstacles to investment in the DRC, particularly in the areas of concessions, government procurement, dispute settlement, and taxation.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at the government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption:
Chouna Lomponda
Director of Communications and Spokesperson
Agence de Prévention et de Lutte contre la Corruption (APLC)
Avenue Général Basuki 14, Concession Gulf
Kinshasa, Ngaliema
+243 89 33 02 819 

Contact at a “watchdog” organization:

Executive Director
Ligue Congolaise de Lutte contre la Corruption (LICOCO)
Luango, N°14, Quartier 1
Kinshasa, N’djili
+243 81 60 49 837, +243 89 89 72 130 

The DRC has a history of armed group activity, sometimes of a politicized nature, particularly in in the east, as well as election-related violence and civil unrest. In late December 2018, Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, son of the country’s longtime opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, was declared the winner of the DRC’s presidential election and sworn in in January 2019. It was the first peaceful transfer of power in the DRC’s history, replacing former President Joseph Kabila, who ruled for 18 years and repeatedly delayed elections. However, the election results have since been called into question. Technical problems and irregularities, including a delay in voting for more than a million people, marred the election itself. In early 2019, negotiations took place between Tshisekedi and Kabila’s Common Front for the Congo (FCC) coalition, which controlled the National Assembly and Senate. On May 20, 2019, Tshisekedi struck a deal with the FCC coalition and Kabila to appoint Silvestre Ilunga, a career public official, as prime minister. After a power struggle between allies of Tshisekedi and Kabila caused the coalition to break up, Tshisekedi organized a new coalition and forced Ilunga out of office. Tshisekedi appointed the head of Gécamines, the country’s largest state-owned mining company, Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, as Prime Minister on February 15, 2021. On April 12, 2021, Tshisekedi officially ended his two-year coalition with Kabila and his allies and formed the “Union Sacrée” (Sacred Union), the new majority coalition government. Presidential, legislative, and local elections are due on December 20, 2023.

The security situation continues to be a concern, and the U.S. Embassy maintains a list of areas that it does not recommend U.S. citizens travel to or visit ( The security situation in the eastern part of the DRC remains volatile, and more than 120 militias and armed groups are believed to be actively operating in the eastern provinces. Some 15-20 significant armed groups are present, and intercommunal violence may affect the political, security, and humanitarian situation. Several towns in eastern DRC continue to be reported to be under attack or temporary control by armed groups. Millions of civilians have been forced to escape the fighting: the United Nations (UN) estimates that 5.6 million people are now internally displaced in the DRC, and over 800,000 DRC refugees have fled to other countries. Local conflict among informal armed groups in Mai-Ndombe and Kwango provinces in the western DRC, immediately to the northeast and east of Kinshasa, have also caused hundreds of deaths and displaced tens of thousands of people since mid-2022.

The foreign terrorist organization ISIS-DRC, also known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group, and the March 23 Movement (M23) militia, declared a “terrorist group” by the GDRC, are two of the most notorious and intractable armed groups in the eastern DRC, and their members have shown no interest in demobilizing. The security and humanitarian situations deteriorated markedly in late 2022 due to a renewed offensive by M23 in areas north of North Kivu provincial capital Goma.

In May 2021, Tshisekedi declared a “state of siege” – effectively martial law – in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, installed military governors, and intensified the operations of the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) against ISIS-DRC/ADF, M23, and other armed groups. The state of siege was accompanied by problematic human rights practices; the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) documented violations, including extrajudicial killings by the FARDC and police, while military governments restricted the activities of civil society and political activists and prosecuted some for criticizing the state of siege.

U.S. citizens and interests are not specifically targeted by armed groups, but anyone can easily become a victim of violence or kidnapping by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset tracks political violence in developing countries, including the DRC, The Kivu Security Tracker ( ) is another database for information on attacks in eastern DRC. The Department of State continues to advise U.S. citizens traveling to the DRC to check the Embassy’s Travel Advisory and Country Information page ( for the latest security information.

The DRC labor market has a large, low-skilled workforce with high youth unemployment. Women make up 47 percent of the workforce. Foreign labor is often employed in jobs requiring technical training in the key mining sector. About 60 percent of the total labor force works in agriculture. Approximately 85 percent of the non-agricultural labor force works in the informal sector.

Informal employment dominates the labor market in the DRC. According to the World Bank, the DRC has one of the highest rates of informal work in the world, with about 80 percent of urban workers in the informal economy, while the Congolese Trade Union Confederation puts that figure at 97.5 percent. Informal workers in the artisanal mining sector have raised concerns about the use of child labor in mining, forcing companies to go through an accreditation system to prove they do not use child labor. Informal work takes many forms and is characterized by non-respect or non-application of labor standards related to minimum wage, working hours, safety and other social standards related to social health system, retirement, etc. The share of the informal sector in GDP is estimated at almost 55 percent.

The results of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Indicator Cluster Survey (EGI-ODD), conducted by the DRC Observatory for Sustainable Development (OCDD) in collaboration with the National Institute of Statistics (INS), published in April 2022, show that just over 91 percent of jobs in the non-agricultural sectors are informal, meaning that these workers do not have a contract and do not receive paid leave or family allowances. By gender, 94 percent of women’s jobs in the non-agricultural sector are informal, compared to 87.7 percent for men.

DRC labor law requires that for companies with more than 100 employees, ten percent of all employees must be local. If the general manager is a foreigner, his or her deputy or secretary general must be a Congolese national. The government may waive these provisions depending on the sector of activity and the expertise available. There are no onerous conditions or visa, residency, or work permit requirements that impede the mobility of foreign investors and their employees.

The DRC faces a shortage of skilled workers in all sectors. There are few formal vocational training programs, although Article 8 of the Labor Code requires all employers to provide training to their employees.

To address the high unemployment rate, the GDRC has adopted a policy of hiring Congolese over foreigners for government and state-owned enterprise positions.

Laws prevent companies from firing workers without compensation in most cases. These restrictions have discouraged hiring and encouraged the use of temporary contracts rather than permanent employment. Labor laws differentiate between layoffs and firing (with severance). No unemployment insurance or other social safety net programs exist for workers laid off for economic reasons.

Labor laws are not waived in order to attract or retain investment, nor are there additional/different labor law provisions in special economic zones, foreign trade zones, or free ports compared to the general economy. The law grants and guarantees equal treatment to all domestic and foreign investors.

Congolese law prohibits collective bargaining in some sectors, particularly for civil servants and public employees, and the law does not provide adequate protection against anti-union discrimination. While the right to strike is recognized, there are provisions requiring unions to obtain authorization and go through lengthy mandatory arbitration and appeal procedures before striking. Unions often strike to win wage increases or back pay and seek to make gains through negotiations with employers.

Despite the GDRC’s ratification of the eight core International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions, there are significant gaps in both law and practice regarding compliance with the ILO Conventions. Some Congolese laws remain inconsistent with the ILO Convention on Forced Labor.

There have been no strikes in the past year that have posed an investment risk and government response.

According to some businesses, the GDRC does not effectively enforce relevant employment laws. DRC law prohibits discrimination in employment and occupation based on race, sex, language, or social status. The law does not specifically protect against discrimination based on religion, age, political opinion, national origin, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV-positive status. In addition, no law specifically prohibits discrimination in the employment of career civil servants.

The Labor Code establishes health and safety standards, but the government did not effectively enforce labor standards in the informal sector, and enforcement was uneven or nonexistent in the formal sector. The General Labor Inspectorate (IGT) should be revitalized by increasing the number of labor inspectors and controllers. The current staffing level (212, including 85 labor inspectors for the entire DRC, a country of 100 million inhabitants, roughly the size of the United States east of the Mississippi River) is very low and does not allow for nationwide coverage in terms of monitoring all labor-related issues. To improve the living conditions of the population, the GRDC expects 2,000 new employees to join the IGT in 2023 through the recruitment process launched by the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security and the Ministry of Public Service under the coordination of the Prime Minister. The new staff will help to ensure the proper implementation of the legal provisions relating to working conditions and working hours, wages, safety, collective labor disputes, the employment of women, children and persons with disabilities, and other related issues.

No new labor-related laws or regulations have been adopted in the past year. There is currently a pending draft bill that proposes to amend Article 130(2) of the Labor Code to provide for the right to receive all the remuneration due to a female employee during her maternity leave, instead of only two-thirds as is the present case. According to the author of this law, the reality is that the employee loses approximately 34 percent or 1/3 of her income during this period of inactivity. The aim of this draft bill is to restore the income that the worker has lost during the period of declared inactivity, so that she can receive her full salary for the support of herself and her child.

The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is currently funding a telecommunications project in the DRC and has several other projects in development.

There is no existing investment guaranty or investment incentive agreement between the DRC and the United States, which typically covers investment support or coverage offered by the USG. The DFC provides political risk insurance and project financing to U.S. investors and non-governmental organizations.

There is an active U.S.-DRC Investment Promotion Agreement.

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($B USD) N/A N/A 2021 $ 55.35
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2021 $30 BEA data available at
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2021 51.1% UNCTAD data available at

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.

Kevin Ngunza
Economic and Commercial Section
U.S. Embassy Kinshasa
+243 810 556 0151 

On This Page

  2. 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
    1. Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
    2. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
    3. Other Investment Policy Reviews
    4. Business Facilitation
    5. Outward Investment
  3. 2. Bilateral Investment and Taxation Treaties
  4. 3. Legal Regime
    1. Transparency of the Regulatory System
    2. International Regulatory Considerations
    3. Legal System and Judicial Independence
    4. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
    5. Competition and Antitrust Laws
    6. Expropriation and Compensation
    7. Dispute Settlement
      1. ICSID Convention and New York Convention
      2. Investor-State Dispute Settlement
      3. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
    8. Bankruptcy Regulations
  5. 4. Industrial Policies
    1. Investment Incentives
    2. Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
    3. Performance and Data Localization Requirements
  6. 5. Protection of Property Rights
    1. Real Property
    2. Intellectual Property Rights
  7. 6. Financial Sector
    1. Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
    2. Money and Banking System
    3. Foreign Exchange and Remittances
      1. Foreign Exchange
      2. Remittance Policies
    4. Sovereign Wealth Funds
  8. 7. State-Owned Enterprises
    1. Privatization Program
  9. 8. Responsible Business Conduct
    1. Additional Resources
    2. Climate Issues
  10. 9. Corruption
    1. Resources to Report Corruption
  11. 10. Political and Security Environment
  12. 11. Labor Policies and Practices
  13. 12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and Other Investment Insurance or Development Finance Programs
  14. 13. Foreign Direct Investment Statistics
  15. 14. Contact for More Information
2023 Investment Climate Statements: Democratic Republic of the Congo
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