mercredi 20 juin 2012

Democratic Republic of Congo: Why so much poverty? *

 
But what is poverty?

      
It is no longer a mystery as to enter into a welfare society, economists also employ the concept of poverty. It strikes a community globally prosperous or not, poverty is a scourge to be fought and eradicated because it threatens the most essential aspects of human life: moral values, human dignity.
      
More than five decades after its accession to international sovereignty, it would seem that the DRC is still poor. It is fitting to question the reality that is the persistence of poverty in a country potentially provided by natural resources.
But what is poverty? There is no single definition of poverty.    Some give a definition in absolute terms: Thus, the poor are people whose resources would remain below a certain threshold (set in monetary unit). This is the case of the World Bank which sets the threshold of "absolute" poverty at $ 1 per day.
      
No one is unaware that poverty in the DRC is not a myth. To be persuaded it is sufficient to note the inability of a majority of the Congolese people to meet food needs, inability to access the needs of health, schooling, decent housing, etc..
All these facets of poverty are observable both in urban and rural areas.

Poverty in DRC affects all occupational categories.

      
Poverty in Congolese society is also perceptible social phenomena that reflect a growing social crisis. The most convincing is probably child prostitution.
      
In its 2011 annual report on the Human Development Index (HDI), UNDP estimated at over 71% of Congolese live on less than a dollar per person per day. In other words, the poverty situation in the DRC is massive poverty that affects all socio-professional categories.
      
In addition, according to UNDP there is a critical evolution of per capita income. It fell by over 15% in real terms between 1995 and 2007 (before the global crisis), a decrease of about 1.4% annually over this period, while at the same time, people believe annually at a rate of at least 2.8%. These statistics are alarming.

In 2010, DRC ranked 181st out of 183 countries in
"Doing Business" of the World Bank.

      
What explains the constancy of poverty in the DRC? The above statistics reflect poor governance. The Mobutu years have made the first descent into the DRC. Under this regime, the country has experienced only inflation, budget deficits and public debt that have been growing, but also the installation of the corruption that has now reached record levels, and in this all sectors of the national economy.
       During these years, the state has shone in irrationality, which took effect as a waste of resources, the allocation of these resources for political purposes, etc..
      
In the post-Mobutu, the country has continued its travel in a political and economic instability, but also the country still problems of economic governance.
      
These are expressed in terms of deleterious environmental affairs. To this end, the Doing Business ranking (2010) World Bank ease of doing business in the DRC placed it 181st out of 183 countries.
      
In 2011, the DRC had occupied the 176th position. In the same vein, the indicator of "Wall Street Journal / Heritage," which measures economic freedom in the world placed the DRC at the 172nd position on 175 countries in 2011.
       These indicators show how business practice is difficult for a contractor. However, the reduction of poverty through the development of entrepreneurship.

The curse of natural resources.

      
Why now after the democratization of the DRC, the Congolese people do not always enjoy fully their resources?
The answer is the resource curse.
       The current world order is marked by the interplay of interests of great powers who, desperate to preserve their interests, promote the deepening misery of the Congolese. The Congolese are victims of the richness of their basement.
       The DRC is a country immensely long in natural resources: over 80 million farmland only 10% are highlighted, of important mineral resources (diamonds, coltan, tungsten, tin, etc.. ), the second lung of the planet after the Amazon, the second supply of fresh water worldwide. Let us add that the country has a large hydropower potential (53% in Africa and 13.5% in the World).

Sixth most corrupt country in Africa.

      
Unfortunately the people of the DRC do not benefit from these riches. Its economy is handicapped by the ongoing armed conflict and corruption levels highest in the world to believe of Transparency International, which for 2011 placed the DRC in 6th place of the most corrupt countries in Africa.
      
In this context, success in business depends on close relationships between business and power, favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, tax breaks, etc.. It is a real "crony capitalism" for close to power, outside the rule of law.
      
This system has prevented access to many of the formal sector: much of the labor force has been forced to turn to the informal. The ILO estimates that over 72% of the workforce Congolese evolving in the informal sector so much that it became the leading sector for job creation in our country. But in the informal sector, the economic "development" is strongly constrained.
      
Given the above, it turns out that the DRC is a poor country, and that after 52 years of independence. The Congolese government must promote good governance and the rule of law, conditions for the Congolese out of this unfortunate reality of poverty.
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*
Article of Kambamba Darly, an economist at the University of Kinshasa, appeared in "A Free World" of 20 June 2012.

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