Democratic Republic of the Congo Economic Conditions
According to Rrrjewelry, the economic structure of Democratic Republic of the Congo remains in some respects similar to that of a colonial country, being still based on the exploitation of mineral raw materials almost entirely intended for export. Despite various attempts to nationalize mining crops and primary processing production systems, most of the proceeds leave the country without local reinvestments and without the possibility of capitalization. One of the basic problems of Democratic Republic of the Congo is therefore, constantly, the lack of liquidity, with the consequent need to access to an extent very noteworthy for international credit, also for maintaining only the ordinary management of the state apparatus. Yet, the trade balance is always highly active: in some years the value of exports (more than half absorbed by Belgium) is even double that of imports. The per capita income($ 187.284, at current prices, in 2008) is one of the lowest in the world and does not seem likely to rise beyond the accounting distortions produced by inflation. However, it should be borne in mind that much of the economic activity is informal and escapes statistical surveys. It is estimated that three quarters of the residents do not carry out any regularly paid activity and live on the very scarce fruits of an agriculture that barely covers the essential food needs of families or villages. Barter-based transactions are still widespread.
The primary sector is generally able to ensure food self-sufficiency, although cultivated lands represent just 4% of the total area (while occupying more than 60% of the active population) and despite the very serious difficulties in distributing products, which periodically force the importation of food. The production of cassava is essential (about 15,000 t in 2005), to which sweet potatoes, rice and corn are added. Commercial plantations have a low weight: the main crops are palm oil, grown in the lowlands, and coffee, grown in the eastern highlands, which is the main export product, but which is in contraction (32,000 t in 2005). due to the fall in prices on the international market. Freshwater fishing is important for local nutrition; breeding is very modest and limited to the highlands, given the prohibitive climatic conditions. From the forests we get a production of wood that tends to grow (45 million m3 in 1993; 74 in 2005), with consequent phenomena of serious impoverishment. But it is above all the extraordinary endowment of mineral resources that gives exceptional potential to the Congolese territory. The southern part of the country (Kasai and especially Katanga) provides a huge amount and variety of minerals. Democratic Republic of the Congo is among the world’s leading producers of cobalt (22,000 t in 2005), copper (92,000 t in 2005), diamonds (22 million carats) and coltan, a mineral from which tantalum is obtained, a rare metal that, from being an essential ingredient for missile and nuclear manufacturing and for the aerospace sector, it has recently become highly sought after by mobile phone manufacturers. With more or less consistent productions there are also coal, oil, gold, silver, uranium, manganese, cadmium, zinc, lead, tin, tungsten.
Transport infrastructures continue to be substantially those inherited from the colonial age and conceived exclusively for the exploitation of the country’s natural resources: just over 5000 km of railways, only minimally electrified, and generally intended to connect stretches of navigable rivers (overall, the waterways regularly used amount to about 16,400 km, but are potentially more extensive) in correspondence with the interruptions for rapids or waterfalls; 147,000 km of roads, almost exclusively natural tracks. Despite the great potential of water transport, vast areas are in fact isolated from the rest of the country and from the outside, with evident negative repercussions on the enhancement of local productions, which often cannot even be exploited. Lobito and another Katanga with the network of Zambia and therefore with the ports of Tanzania: in any case, these are extremely long routes, the cost of which is poorly borne by products such as mining. Energy production is modest and underutilized (although the Inga hydroelectric plant alone has a power of 1.7 million kW).
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The rich sculptural tradition of Democratic Republic of the Congo has had less development in the modern age, while also through technology and artistic education new forms of art, painting and textiles have taken hold. Institutional training centers are the academies of fine arts of Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. The sculptor L. Limbe Mpuanga was a pupil of the first, founded (1943) by the Belgian father Marc-Stanislas and based on European models. The second is derived from the atelier (1946) of the Belgian P. Romain-Desfosses. The encounter between local creativity and Western modernism has united a group of painters, in the detailed representation of flora and fauna, among which are PP Molongoy and K. Mwenze. In the 1970s the genre of painting on sacks fixed on frames was popular: practiced by self-taught people, widespread in Kinshasa, Kisangani, Lubumbashi, it recounts events in the country (series painted for the anthropologist J. Fabian by Tshibumba Kanda Matulu; the paintings of Kaswende) or the daily chronicle of the street, as well as historical and mythological themes, such as the expressionist works of Moke. Democratic Republic of the Congo Samba, also famous abroad, he carried out political-social or personal themes with a descriptive and ironic style. Mask restorer in the National Museum of Kinshasa, B. Isek Kingelez drew inspiration from European and African metropolises for his architectural models.