A “New Deal” for the DRC?
On February 13, 2019, the newspaper “Le Monde” headlined: “Media stories make the DRC look like a gigantic powder keg”.

Seen from the outside, it must be confessed that the image projected through the press, several reports and even social networks does not reassure. Moreover, it tends to challenge our ability to be the actors of a Congolese project that matches our aspirations and potential. 

Many things have been done, however, and even if the size of the challenges remains colossal, didn’t Lao-tseu say that a journey of a thousand miles always begins with a first step? Did Franklin Roosevelt agree with this when, in 1933, he committed the United States to the “New Deal”, a courageous and ambitious start that would become the foundation for several decades of prosperity? What if we asked ourselves the question of a Congolese “New Deal” to talk about the economic and social future with pragmatism and voluntarism..., without coloration or paternalism?

When President Joseph Kabila came to power in 2001, the DRC was confronted with armed conflicts and chronic insecurity. With the Sun City agreements, the promise of a return to peace paves the way for new ambitions. A gradual return to the stability of the national currency will subsequently strengthen confidence and foreshadow the establishment of a framework conducive to recovery. Reaching the completion point of the HIPC initiative, joining OHADA, setting up the one-stop shop for business creation and sectoral reforms will then be crucial steps in guiding the Congolese economy. Thus, in 2014, the GDP growth rate is close to double digits, the banking system grows by 25% each year, the time required to start a business is reduced to 3 days...

The DRC has come a long way, but there is still so much to do! 

After reaching 9.5% in 2014, GDP growth fell to 6.9% in 2015 before reaching 2.4% in 2016 - its lowest level since 2001 - and rising to 3.4% in 2017, largely reflecting fluctuations in commodity prices. It also shows our vulnerability to external shocks and the challenges of economic transformation. We suggest here some main lines of action that could feed the reflection:

1. Act as a “swing producer” and work for a concerted regulation of production in order to protect ourselves against the external shocks of the extractive industry and their social consequences;

2. Diversify and inject a new dynamic through an incentive tax framework 

for SMEs and better adapted to the outreach of large companies;

3. Reform education to create the set of skills and qualifications that the DRC needs to project itself into the emergence ;

4. Adapt the instruments for measuring development and wealth redistribution to best guide State action in the Congolese context.

Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” changed his country through reforms, not revolution. The DRC has come a long way, it is urgent to consolidate the progress made, face today’s challenges and commit ourselves with ever greater ambition to the future of the Congo. The challenges are certainly daunting, but even the longest journey begins with a first step!

Henri Plessers Mboyo, Executive Director of the consulting firm Financialis ACM, trainer at the CFPB and Lecturer at the Protestant University in Congo for the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.  


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