General Information

  • Capital(s): Brazzaville
  • Population: 3 039 126 (2007)
  • Area: 342 000 Km²
  • Currency: 1 CFA Franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes
  • Language(s): French
  • Time Zone: GMT+1h00
  • ISO Code: CG
  • Dialing Code: +242

Overview

Congo is an independent republic with a democratic government which lies between Gabon and Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) and forms part of the West Central African Region. The capital city is Brazzaville. Other major towns are Loubomo and the port of Pointe-Noire.
The official language is French. The local currency is the CFA- franc.
The international time zone for Congo is GMT +1 and the international dialling code is +242. The principal airlines that fly to Brazzaville are Air Afrique, Air France, Sabena and Air Portugal. International airports are located at Brazzaville and Pointe Noire and several smaller airports are served by the national airline, Lina Congo. All nationals require visas in order to visit Congo.
A superior insurance service is provided by the local representative of AfriNet, risk managers and insurance brokers of Africa.

Economy

The oil industry in Congo, the fifth largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, is key to the economy of the country. In particular, upstream oil industry is the Congo's major source of foreign exchange.
Electricity is provided by the parastata utility Societe Nationale d'Electricite. Expansions in the oil industry and other areas of Congolese economy have led to the revival of the Sounda Gorge hydro-electric power project first mooted in 1952. Mining is another significant industry sector.
An economic programme implemented in 2003, that is to continue until 2010, focuses on reconstruction, restoration of financial soundness, promotion of good governance and transparency, sustainable growth, and poverty reduction. The government has taken steps to reduce expenditure and restructure the banking sector. A new law entrusted the regional banking supervision agency (COBAC) with the control of microfinance institutions in 2002. GDP (excluding oil revenue) growth has increased with an increase in public sector investment and an expansion in forestry
Anti-money-laundering legislation is being prepared under the aegis of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), with the setup of a regional institution—Groupe d'action contre le blanchiment d'argent en Afrique centrale (GABAC).
The agricultural sector has been neglected and consists mostly of subsistence farming. Cassava is the main food crop, coffee and cocoa are the main cash crops and sugar and tobacco are also grown. With a large portion of the country covered in tropical rainforest, the timber industry in Congo supplies a major portion of the country's export revenue. Strict environmental controls are in place to ensure that the forestry sector is able to sustain itself. A small manufacturing sector deals mostly with agricultural and forestry products, which, includes lumber, brewing, sugar, palm oil, soap, flour, cigarettes, as well as, cement.

The Congo's main export commodities include cut diamonds, petroleum products, lead products, timber and saw mill products, cocoa, coffee and sugar, while the main import commodities include chemical products, machinery, food products, iron steel and other metals and metal products.

The Foreign Trade Directorate in the Ministry of Commerce issues import licenses and imports from all sources require a declaration or a license as well as being insured with the State Insurance Company, Société d’assurances et de reéassurance du Congo (ARC).
The Ministry of Finance and Budget, who has delegated his approval authority to the General Directorate, administers Exchange Control and all exchange transactions must be effected through authorised banks or the postal administration.
There are no Free Export Zones. The Congo uses the Harmonised System of Tariff Nomenclature for classifying its products.
Full customs duties are imposed on all imports, regardless of origin, entering the member states of UDEAC.
The country’s main trading partners are Belgium, China, France, India, Italy, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States.

Politics

Politics of the Republic of the Congo takes place in a framework of a presidential republic, whereby the President is both head of state and head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the parliament. Before the 1997 civil war, the Republic of the Congo's system of government was similar to that of the French. However, after taking power, Denis Sassou-Nguesso suspended the constitution approved in 2000. The new constitution (adopted by referendum in 2002), returns to the earlier model with a seven-year presidential term and a bicameral national parliament.

The Parliament (Parlement) has two chambers. The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) has 153 members, for a five year term in single-seat constituencies. The Senate (Sénat) has 66 members, elected for a six year term by district, local and regional councils.