Due to the country's central position in French
Equatorial Africa, the transport and service sectors and the
administrative sector in the business sector came to be more
developed than in other countries at the corresponding
economic level. After independence, however, the importance
of these sectors decreased. The initial economic policy
after independence emphasized the role of the state in the
economy, but allowed private companies to act in the forest,
mining and transport sectors.
In the late 1970s, the socialist elements of the economy
were reduced, and in 1989, as a result of increased economic
problems, economic policy became even more liberal. In 1994,
the country introduced a structural adjustment program aimed
at further liberalization and privatization of the economy.
countryaah, the Congolese economy is almost entirely dependent on oil;
the country is one of Africa's ten largest oil producers.
However, revenue is unevenly distributed and corruption is
extensive. The country has been drawn with huge external
debt, which has, however, been partially written off several
times. Many years of political unrest, especially the civil
war 1997-99, have also had a negative impact on the economy.
Less than 1 percent of the land is cultivated land, and
another 29 percent is used for extensive grazing. Congo's
food production does not meet the need. From the beginning
of the 1970s, the agricultural sector was negatively
affected by partly being overridden and partly subject to
poor planning. The sector has also been adversely affected
by a relatively large move from the countryside to the
cities. However, during the 1990s, the state began to invest
more in agriculture. With the exception of oil palms, sugar
and tobacco, which are grown in plantation form,
agricultural production is mainly carried out on small
family farms. The most important food crops are cassava and
corn. The most important barley crops, which, however, make
a very small contribution to export revenue, are sugar and
tobacco and to a lesser extent cocoa, coffee, peanuts and
oil palm products.
The forest, which covers more than half of the country's
area, is one of Congo's most important natural resources.
Until 1973, timber was Congo's main export commodity.
Harvesting began in the coastal area and has continued along
the inland railroad. Until 1987, the purchase and sale of
timber was controlled by a state monopoly; however, private
(usually foreign) companies accounted for 95 percent of the
harvest. During the 1990s, timber exports declined as a
result of criticism against harvesting in rainforests.
During the 00s, production has again increased while the
government has taken measures to reduce illegal harvesting
and increase replanting as well as domestic timber
Fishing is of little importance to Congo's economy. It is
conducted in the Atlantic and Congo rivers as well as in
smaller rivers and rivers. Some commercial sea fishing has
been developed (mainly by tuna), but most of the fishing is
conducted for self-catering and for the local market.
Until the early 1970s, mineral extraction played little
role for the Congo's economy, but during the 1970s and 1980s
the significance increased through several major oil
discoveries. In the mid-1990s, the sector accounted for
about 90 percent of the value of the country's exports. In
1972, the Émerau field on the continental shelf was put into
production, in 1977 mining began on the Loango field and in
1980 production started on the Likouala River in eastern
Congo. The latter field is estimated to comprise about 40
million tonnes of oil. Additional deposits on the
continental shelf and on land were then put into operation
during the 1980s. Large deposits of natural gas are also
located outside Pointe-Noire. In addition to oil, limited
quantities of lead, zinc, gold and copper are extracted.
Undiscovered deposits of high quality iron ore, phosphate
and bauxite have not yet been found in the country.
Most of the country's energy supply comes from the two
hydroelectric power plants Bouenza, west of Brazzaville, and
Djoué, northwest of Brazzaville. There are also far-reaching
plans for a new power plant at Ingafallen, which at
completion will be the world's largest. The production and
distribution of electricity is controlled by the state. As
the majority of households lack electricity, firewood is
still the most important source of energy.
The industrial sector in Congo is well developed, but
apart from the oil industry it has little economic
significance. The industry, which is mainly focused on the
processing of agricultural and forestry products and on the
production of simpler consumer goods, is mainly located in
Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire and Nkayi. In addition, there are
sawmills and production of building materials such as
cement. In 1982, an oil refinery was opened in Pointe-Noire
with an annual capacity of 1 million tonnes. The majority of
the major industries were previously state-owned. However,
through an agreement with the International Monetary Fund,
ownership has largely been transferred into private hands.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Congo experienced a large
trade deficit. Through the development of the oil sector
since the late 1970s, this has turned into a surplus. In the
mid-00s, oil revenues accounted for about 90 percent of
total export revenues. The second largest export product was
timber with 7 percent. Imports are dominated by machinery
and food. China, Angola and Gabon are Congo's most important
export markets. Imports come mainly from France, China and