Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), Economy
continued unrest, Nationalization, Hyperinflation, economic progress, International Monetary Fund
The DRC is potentially one of Africaís richest states, with extensive agricultural, mineral, and energy resources. However, instability after independence in 1960 contributed to a sluggish economy that grew only about 1 percent a year until the mid-1980s. Nationalization, corruption, inexperience, heavy borrowing, a deteriorating infrastructure, and inappropriate development took a high toll throughout the 32-year regime of Mobutu (1965-1997). The country dropped from having one of Africaís highest standards of living to one of its lowest. In 1990 the DRCís gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to be $8.1 billion ($220 per capita). However, by the early 1990s the nationís formal economy began to disintegrate, and GDP plummeted. Hyperinflation of nearly 40 percent a month, government deficits in which expenditures exceeded revenues by more than four times, and plunging mineral production combined to make the country one of the worldís poorest. In 1994 the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) declared the DRC insolvent, and the country was suspended from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The 1996-1997 rebellion that culminated in Mobutuís overthrow virtually halted economic activity throughout the country. The administration of Laurent Kabila, who became president following Mobutuís ouster, pledged to rebuild the nationís economy, but continued unrest in the DRC hampered economic progress. The United Nations (UN) classifies the DRC as a least developed country. Smuggling and black market activities are very common and may account for income equal to the nationís official GDP. In 1998 GDP was $5.6 billion, or $120 U.S. dollars per person.
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