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Diversification and Ecotourism : Potential Growth Drivers in Congo

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Diversification and Ecotourism : Potential Growth Drivers in Congo

Congo’s economy is heavily dependent on the oil sector. To promote sustainable growth, Congo needs to diversify its economy, and ecotourism is emerging as one of the sectors to consider.

Congo’s Economic Structure

Dependence on the oil sector

Congo’s economy is heavily dependent on the energy sector, a trend that has persisted for decades. This sector contributes up to 42 % of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 80 % of total exports and 60 % of government revenues, positioning it as a major pillar of the Congolese economy.

The primary sector contributes only 6 % to GDP, the secondary sector 6.5%, and the tertiary sector 33 %. Nevertheless, the petroleum sector dominates the composition of GDP, it employs only 20 % of the active population. The majority of the workforce, especially the youth, works in the informal sector due to its regulatory flexibility.

Therefore, to ensure sustainable growth, the Congolese economy needs to diversify. Dependence on natural resources is not a viable solution, given the volatility of the sector. Resources can be depleted but returns are not inclusive.

Promoting Ecotourism in Congo

A World Bank report highlights two sectors with significant potential to diversify the economy: trade facilitation and ecotourism. Not only, the implementation of trade facilitation policies, such as tax incentives, reduced entry barriers, and regional integration benefits, could help the country reduce its dependence on oil exports. But also, promoting ecotourism would play a crucial role in creating jobs and developing the service sector.

To fully realize this potential, the government needs to establish regulations in the tourism sector and improve the protection of natural resources.

Strategies for the Success of Ecotourism in Congo

Impact of Ecotourism

Ecotourism can have a significant impact on the local economy of Congo in several ways. First, it generates additional income through the sale of products and services related to the activity, thereby contributing to local economic growth.

It also provides employment opportunities for local communities, creating jobs in areas such as accommodation, catering, guiding, and the sale of artisanal products. These jobs have a positive impact on the average income of local residents and help to reduce unemployment rates.

Finally, ecotourism can stimulate the development of local infrastructure, particularly through investments in the improvement of roads, airports and transport services. However, it is essential to implement measures to ensure the equitable distribution of benefits within local communities.

Investments in the Sector

A conference was recently held in Kinshasa that brought together several investors with the main objective of diversifying the Congolese economy. According to the rating agency Bloomfield, Congo’s country risk is 5.1 in 2022 and could rise to 5.5 in 2023, an improvement of 40 points.

During the conference, the Minister of Finance underlined the success of the event, stressing the fruitful exchanges between the main stakeholders. The participation of rating agencies and external communities was also highlighted. However, he noted that the DRC’s economy must overcome several obstacles, such as infrastructure gaps, fiscal policy and insecurity, which are unfavorable factors for investors.

Despite these challenges, the government expressed its determination to regain investor confidence. Macroeconomic stability and the implementation of budgetary and fiscal policies focused on good governance are the government’s priorities to create an investment-friendly environment.

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