With a very high growth rate, the Democratic Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the most populous countries on the African continent, but it has a decidedly modest average density and above all an extremely irregular distribution of the population: the eastern regions in the area of the equatorial Great Lakes and, at the opposite extreme, the sector crossed by the lower course of the Congo River have densities at least triple compared to the rest of the country, while vast forest regions, such as Upper Congo, of about half a million km ², or agricultural and mining, such as Katanga (Shaba), of equal size, each have a population no more numerous than that settled in the urban area of the capital alone. In the latter, moreover, conditions of very precarious settlement have been achieved, in large informal (ethnic-based) neighborhoods, which tend to re-propose village situations in which immigrants who arrive incessantly find elements of solidarity and community, absolutely necessary in an environment practically devoid of services for the population and the availability of jobs.
The other main cities of the country, Lubumbashi, Mbuji-Mayi, Kisangani and Kananga, have a much more modest demographic dimension, while the prevailing settlement model remains that of the isolated and self-sufficient village. Both in rural and urban areas, the living conditions of the population, from a socio-sanitary and economic point of view, still appear very far from being satisfactory, especially after a long period of marked decline in production which has lasted since half of the population. the eighties.
According to thenailmythology, the economic situation was one of the causes at the origin of the changes that occurred at the political top of the country, together with the growing dissatisfaction with a personalistic and inefficient regime; the extraordinary ethnic and linguistic diversity has also long been one of the main obstacles to balanced development. If the new ruling class proceeds in the direction of a modernization of the productive system and a democratization of the state apparatus, it is possible that the recurring secessionist temptations (in the northern, eastern and south-eastern regions) that have variously punctuated the country’s history will pass in the background.
The Democratic Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to be one of the potentially richest countries in Africa and, as regards the availability of natural resources, in the whole world, but, as mentioned, it has experienced recent phases of severe economic recession (with a maximum negative in 1994: – 11 % compared to the previous year). The decline in production was reflected in the values of GDP per resident, which collapsed to negligible levels, in a context of very serious inflation and collapse of state revenues, while the informal economy has developed, the only way left to large sections of the population to guarantee itself survival.
This situation is largely attributable to poor public management (exacerbated by the failure, in 1991, of the main state-owned mining company) of the resources and infrastructures necessary for their development, as well as the lack of services for the population and businesses. Significantly, the Shaba mining region has managed in recent decades to continue, albeit at a decreasing pace (also due to the decline in international prices of copper, the main local product), its economic progress only by virtue of the railway connections that connect it to ports on the Indian (Tanzania) or Atlantic (Angola) Ocean, and marketing systems offered by Zambia and Tanzania (or directly controlled by transnational companies).
Most of the country’s territory continues to denounce the lack of economically useful access to the market, both domestic and foreign, despite the potential offered by the immense network of navigable waterways. To this serious drawback is added the fact that in the better connected regions the exploitation of resources has inevitably proceeded at a very accelerated rate, causing phenomena of worrying impoverishment (both in the agroforestry field and in the mining one). The wealth of the Democratic Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo, in any case, derives substantially from the availability of raw materials on the commercial course of which neither the State nor national companies have any possibility of influencing: the dependence on international markets, consequently, is almost total. The smuggling effect, so significant that, in the diamond sector, research and marketing have been partially liberalized. In this way, at least the result of not excessively depressing the value of the product was obtained: illegal sales, in fact, took place at much lower prices than the official prices (so much so that they were mainly hoarded by the same companies which, having the concession of the diamond exploitation, in this way they avoided excessive depreciation on the international market).
Overall, trade remains positive, but year after year the surplus margin is decreasing, in conjunction with the slowdown in exportable production (diamonds, copper, cobalt and zinc among minerals, coffee, rubber and wood among plantation products), reducing the possibility of repaying the country’s gigantic foreign debt with the trade surplus.