Given the many and powerful natural resources at its disposal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo represents perhaps the example of bad governance, of wrong choices, of the most macroscopic unproductive exploitation of all Africa.The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the richest countries of raw materials, but its economy continues to be very backward due to the lack of infrastructure, the inefficiency and corruption of the public administration and the conflicts that have long plagued it. During the colonial occupation, cities, communication routes, industries and infrastructures were created as a direct function of the requests of foreign companies interested in exploiting the resources of the immense territory. This typically African situation, but aggravated by the fact that in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the former Belgian Congo, colonial exploitation was particularly crude, of immediate plunder; in particular, the Union Minière du Haut Katanga operated with the utmost unscrupulousness as a real state within the state. So when the Belgians suddenly withdrew, in 1960, it was the general crisis of the country: a political as well as an economic crisis, as Belgium had systematically kept the Congolese away from any significant activity. In order not to be paralyzed by the total crisis, the state was forced to maintain its previous relations with Western capitalism; the Union Minière, although it was nationalized in 1967 and assumed the new name of GECAMINES (La Générale des Carrières et des Mines du Zaïre), he continued to secure a large part of the mining exploitation. Beginning in 1973, the government initiated a series of nationalizations of the other main foreign companies, adopting the so-called “Zairization policy” or “Zairean way to socialism”. This could mean an authentic reappropriation by the state of national wealth, a new and correct way of planning the economy thanks to the enormous profits that the country would make from the sale of its products abroad. In reality, expropriations and nationalizations resulted in the pure and simple increase of privileges for the few in power, especially for the exponents of the typically bureaucratic national bourgeoisie, inefficient as well as corrupt. A further deterioration of the economy of the country occurred during the 1980s, in parallel with the fall in international prices of raw materials: only a drastic reduction in imports, with serious social and economic consequences (due to the shortage of consumer and production goods), it made it possible to record positive balances in the trade balance, however insufficient to honor the commitments dictated by the large foreign debt; the weakening of industrial activities (extractive, above all) and high inflation finally produced strong social tensions, deepening the crisis in the country and accelerating its crumbling up to the abolition of international aid and financial assistance from the IMF (1991) and the expulsion of Mobutu. The outbreak of the civil conflict in 1998 made the economic picture even more negative. From 2002 the situation began to improve even if corruption, lack of transparency in political management, heavy foreign debt and the high rate of inflation continue to hold back its development (GDP per capita was just $ 184 US in 2008): GDP growth which in 2008 stood at US $ 11,589 million outlines the slow recovery that the country is making.
INDUSTRY AND MINERAL RESOURCES
The traditional productive sectors mainly concern the transformation of local raw materials; agricultural and zootechnical processes are generally carried out by small and medium-sized companies, managed by Congolese, while in the large extractive and manufacturing industries the foreign direction prevails. Metallurgy remains by far the country’s key industry. It includes complexes for the refining of copper, zinc, lead, tin, cadmium, cobalt, petroleum, etc. The other main industries concern the processing of food products (sugar refineries, oil mills, breweries, milling complexes), tobacco factories and the production of other consumer goods (soap factories, tanneries, shoe factories, etc.); the textile industry, which mainly processes cotton, is fairly developed. According to allcountrylist, the country’s great wealth is made up of mineral resources, in particular the Democratic Republic of the Congo possesses large quantities of diamonds, cobalt and copper. The main mining area is that of the Shaba (today Katanga), due to the presence of vast deposits of cupriferous minerals (continuation of the Copper Belt of Zambia and Zimbabwe) which also contain zinc and cobalt. In addition to copper and cobalt, zinc and manganese are extracted. Katanga also comes from silver, tin, cadmium, tungsten, uranium, radium and germanium. Another rich mining area is located in Kasai, especially for diamonds in the production of which the Democratic Republic of Congo is at the top of the world ranking (the main deposits are those of Tshikapa and Mbuji-Mayi). Finally, in various locations, but especially in the northern provinces of the country in the areas of the Uele river and in the Ituri, gold is mined. Since the early 1970s, oil has been extracted from the continental shelf and refined in the plant located near Muanda. However, very wide possibilities exist in the hydroelectric field; the colossal Inga dam on the Congo river feeds two power plants and is destined to significantly increase the production of electricity (almost entirely of water origin).