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DR Congo: Richest in Resources Yet Poorest Country in the World

The poor are people whose resources remain below a certain threshold (set in monetary unit) and generally, we reference the World Bank’s threshold of “absolute” poverty at $1 per day.

To many, the state of poverty in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) isn’t new. A majority of Congolese are unable to meet food and health needs and access to appreciable education & decent housing seem far off. These facets of poverty are observable in both urban and rural areas, affects all occupational categories and has become a perceptible social phenomena that reflect a growing social crisis. A very noticeable effect is probably child prostitution.

Blessed Amongst Many

The DR Congo has the world’s largest reserves of cobalt and significant quantities of the world’s diamonds, gold and copper. This makes the DRC potentially one of the richest country in the world. But this central African country  has been ranked among the poorest and most underdeveloped nations on this planet due to substantial depreciation from colonialism, slavery and corruption which pushed exploitation of its natural resources overboard.
Natural resource you can find in DR Congo include:
Deposits of Diamonds, Gold, Coltan, Uranium, Tin, Copper, Cobalt, Oil, Tungsten, Tin,    

Agricultural resources include a wide range of fruits grown across the country. These include mangoes, oranges, mangosteens, guavas, papaya, avocados and bananas. Cassava is the most widely-grown cash crop in the country. In some regions, groundnuts/peanuts, plantain, maize and rice are grown. Subsistent farmers also grow some cash crops like tobacco, coffee, sugar cane and cocoa. Rubber is also extracted from rubber trees, and palm oil from the kernels of palm trees.

Suffering In The Midst Of Abundance

DR Congo is commonly considered as the wealthiest country in the world in terms of natural resources with an estimated evaluation of 24 trillion dollars ($24 trillion) in natural minerals– equivalent to the (GDP) gross domestic product of Europe and the United States combined together. Yet its citizens struggle within a country that has the second lowest nominal (GDP) in the world and is the epicenter of what many consider to be an African world war.

The nation is the second largest producer of diamonds, comprising 30% of worldwide diamond production. It produces 70% of the world’s coltan. It also contains the world’s largest cobalt reservation. The majority of the mineral extraction is done in unregulated, small scale operations known as “Artisanal and Small-scale Mining. The country also has a large hydropower potential (53% in Africa and 13.5% in the World.

In its 2011 annual report on the Human Development Index (HDI), UNDP estimated that over 71% of Congolese live on less than a dollar per day. According to this report, it is a critical evaluation of per capita income. It fell by over 15% in real terms between 1995 and 2007 (before the global crisis), a decrease of about 1.4% annually over this period; these statistics are alarming.

In 2010, DRC ranked 181st out of 183 poorest countries in the world. .

Cursed Resources: Victims of Wealth

The appalling state of DR Congo’s economy reflects poor governance. Under the Mobutu regime, the country has not only experienced inflation, budget deficits and public debt, but also the installation of corruption that has now reached record levels in all sectors of the national economy. During these years, the state has shone in irrationality, which took effect as a waste of resources, the allocation of these resources for political purposes, etc.

In the post-Mobutu DRC, the country has continued its travel in political and economic instability and still battles with economic governance. These are expressed in terms of deleterious environmental affairs. To this end, Wall Street Journal / Heritage, which measures economic freedom in the world placed the DRC at the 172nd position on 175 countries in 2011.

The current world order is marked by the interplay of interests of great powers who, desperate to preserve their interests, promote the deepening misery of the Congolese who have become victims of the richness of their basement.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has some major problems in the mining sector as it’s popularly said that other countries intercept their mining sector and extract their mineral resources forcefully. After Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi‘s successful invasion of eastern and southeastern DRC in the Second Congo War, a great deal of what the UN labeledmass scale looting took place. While initial invasion tactics were still being worked out, military commanders were making business deals with foreign companies for Congo’s vast mineral reserves. Between September 1998 and August 1999 stockpiles of minerals, agricultural products, timber, and livestock were illegally confiscated from Congolese businesses, piled onto trucks, and sold as export from the confiscating countries. Rwandan and Ugandan troops forced local businesses to shut their doors by robbing and harassing civilian owners. Cars were stolen to such an extent that Uganda showed a 25% increase in automobiles in 1999. DARA-Forest Company illegally extracted and sold Congolese timber on the international market. It is believed that an American Mineral Fields executive allowed rebels to use his private jet for a $1 billion mining deal. Some locals even paralleled the mining corporation’s rush to acquire the coltan rich land in rebel territory of the DRC.

A Way Forward

The DRC is a country immensely rich in natural resources with over 80 million hectares farmland with only 10% being used. It is often said that she is second lung of the planet after the Amazon, the second supplier of fresh water worldwide. With the facts of her immense wealth stated above, it’s sad that The DRC is a poor country, even after 55 years of independence. The Congolese government has been unable to use its vast resources to better the lives of her citizens. While the country is still being exploited, if it must make progress, it must take the bull by horn by promoting good governance and the rule of law,

 

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[Header image]–    The populations of Mutaho flee into Goma adter a 2nd day of fighting between M23 elements and FARDC soldiers.  MONUSCO Photos /Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0

 

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