Congo Leader Says Economy Will Grow 8 Percent This Year

Congo Leader Says Economy Will Grow 8 Percent This Year

Mining is booming in the Democratic Republic of Congo and its prime minister predicts the country’s economy will grow by 8 percent this year, but the government knows it must end corruption, he said, according to a Reuters report.

The size of Western Europe, Congo has some of the largest copper and cobalt reserves in the world plus rich deposits of coltan, tin and diamonds.

Coltan, short for columbite–tantalite, is a metallic ore mined for the elements niobium and tantalum. Tantalum is used to make capacitors in electronic products.

But the benefits of Congo’s economic progress have been slow to reach its 65 million residents. Two-thirds of the country lives on less than a dollar a day, according to Reuters.

Congo ranked 160th out of 174 countries in Transparency International’s rankings of perceptions of corruption last year, the report says.

Investors have been deterred from doing business in Congo due to infrastructure and institutions ravaged by decades of mismanagement and war, Reuters says.

Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo said his country was trying to strengthen its economic governance.

“The level of growth this year…will be 8.3 percent,” he told a forum in the capital, Kinshasa. The economy could reach double-digit growth as soon as 2014, a year earlier than forecast by the International Monetary Fund, he said in the report.

Congo copper production grew from 19,000 tonnes in 2002 to 600,000 in 2012, he said. Inflation, which was at 135 percent in 2002, is on track to end this year below 1 percent.

Congo ranked 181st out of 185 countries in World Bank’s annual Doing Business survey 2013, which measures the ease of running a company around the world. Factors like unreliable electricity and slow and costly bureaucracy affected the score, the report said.