Economics

What Are The Major Natural Resources Of The Republic Of The Congo?

The Republic Of The Congo has rich and varied natural resources.

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The Republic Congo is an African nation that covers an area of roughly 132,000 square miles, making it the 64th largest country globally. The Congolese economy is one of the top 150 economies globally and in 2017, its gross domestic product was the 138th highest in the world according to estimates from the World Bank. The International Monetary Fund estimated that in 2017, the Congolese per capita gross domestic product was the 141st highest in the world. The Congolese economy is reliant on many natural resources such as petroleum, arable land, and forests.

Forests

In 2015, roughly 65.4% of Congo's land was covered with forests according to estimates from the World Bank. Since 2005, the amount of forest cover in Congo has been declining due to continuous deforestation. Rainforests make up the most substantial part of forests in the Congo as they cover roughly 60% of the nation's entire area. Forests in the Congo are mainly used for the production of timber which is one of the country's major exports. Most of the timber exports from the Congo, roughly 90% according to some estimates, are made up of raw logs. Approximately 90% of the wood products sold from Congo are sold to China. 

Arable Land

Roughly 1.61% of the Congo's entire territory is considered arable. Since 2010, the amount of arable land in the Congo has been increasing steadily. The most important agricultural area in the Congo is the Niari Valley which is situated in the southern region of the country. The increase in the amount of arable land in the Congo can be attributed to the importance of agriculture to the Congolese economy. In 2016, the Congolese government estimated that the agriculture sector contributed roughly 5% to the nation's gross domestic product. Approximately 30% of the Congolese people are involved in agriculture. Some of the most important crops planted in the Republic of the Congo include cassava, bananas, and sugarcane. Most of the crops grown in the Congo are grown for subsistence purposes. Despite the vast number of crops grown in the Congo, the country is forced to import large quantities of food to satisfy the local food. The Republic of the Congo imports its food from nations such as the US and France. Agriculture in the Congo has attracted investment from other nations such as South Africa and the US.

Corn

Corn is one of the essential crops grown in the Republic of the Congo. The corn grown in Congo is mainly used for human consumption as well as for livestock feeds. To increase the amount of corn grown in the country, the Congolese government has urged farmers to implement modern farming methods.

Livestock

Farmers in the Republic of the Congo keep a large variety of livestock such as pigs, cattle, and goats. The Congolese government implemented policies to improve the country's livestock sector. The primary reform that the Congolese government instituted in the livestock industry was the introduction of the lease system. Through the lease system, the government loaned Congolese farmers several animals and expected the same number of animals in return in a couple of years. Through the lease system, the number of animals in the Congo has increased significantly.

Fish

The Republic of the Congo has vast fishing grounds that are some of its most important natural resources. Congolese marine fishers obtain fish from the Atlantic Ocean which is located on the southwestern edge of the country. Fishing is also carried out in the rivers and lakes in the country. Some of the fish caught by Congolese fishermen include sardines, bass, and tuna.

Minerals

The Republic of the Congo has been blessed with a wide variety of mineral resources that are vital to the country's economy such as diamonds, copper, and gold. The Congolese government set up the Department of Mines and Geology to manage the country's mineral resources. Congo's mineral resources are yet to be adequately exploited; however, the vast quantities of minerals in the country have attracted large numbers of international companies. By 2012, the Congolese government had only issued seven licenses to allow companies to extract minerals from the country. The government had however issued more than 40 licenses to 26 corporations allowing them to prospect for minerals in the country. The Congolese government has sought to grow the country's mineral sector to diversify the nation's economy. The major challenge that faced the Congolese mining sector is widespread corruption. In 2005 the Congolese government introduced new laws to regulate the mining sector and to reduce the rampant corruption.

Iron Ore

The Republic of the Congo has been blessed with vast quantities of iron ore in regions such as Mayoko, Oyabi, and Nabeba. Six companies own the major iron ore mines in the Republic of Congo. One of the largest deposits of iron ore in the Congo is located close to the city of Zanaga and is owned by the Xstrata Corporation. The deposit is believed to possess close to 7 billion tons of iron ore. The government has implemented plans to improve the transport services in the regions with significant iron ore deposits to facilitate rapid transport of the mineral. The Congo's vast deposits of iron ore have attracted investment form an Australian company, Sundance Resources Limited, which owns the Nabeba deposits.

Oil and Gas

Congo's most vital natural resources are deposits of oil and gas. According to the Congolese government, in 2010 petroleum products accounted for roughly 90% of the nation’s entire exports. Most of the Congo's oil reserves are located in offshore fields such as the Moho-Bilondo field and the Likoula Field. The Congo was ranked as the seventh largest oil producer on the African continent. Most of the oil deposits in the Congo are exploited by foreign corporations such as Aiteo and Perenco.

Challenges Facing the Congolese Economy

The Congolese economy faces several challenges with the major one being corruption within state corporations. The corruption has discouraged foreign nations from investing in the Congo.

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