Congo is an independent republic with a democratic government which lies between Gabon and Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) and forms part of the West Central African Region. The capital city is Brazzaville. Other major towns are Loubomo and the port of Pointe-Noire.
The official language is French. The local currency is the CFA- franc. (US$ / CFA Franc – current exchange rate).
The oil industry in Congo, the fourth largest oil producer in sub- Saharan Africa, is key to the economy of the country. In particular the upstream oil industry is its major source of foreign exchange. Falling oil prices have affected the country’s GDP significantly and damaged economic progress. The country has an oil refinery at Pointe-Noire.
Electricity is provided by the parastatal utility Societe Nationale d’Electricite. Expansions in the oil industry and other areas of the Congolese economy have led to the revival of the Sounda Gorge hydro-electric power project first mooted in 1952. Other significant industries include mining.
The agricultural sector has been neglected and consists mostly of subsistence farming. Cassava is the main food crop, coffee and cocoa are the main cash crops and sugar and tobacco are also grown. With a large portion of the country covered in tropical rainforest, the timber industry in Congo supplies a major portion of the country’s export revenue. Strict environmental controls are in place to ensure that the forestry sector is able to sustain itself. A small manufacturing sector deals mostly with agricultural and forestry products.
The devaluation of the Franc Zone in 1994 led to an increase in inflation which has subsequently decreased. Economic reform is taking place with the aid of international organisations. However, civil war in 1997 and further unrest continued to halt reforms.
The Congo-Ocean Railway forms an important link in the equatorial Africa transport system. The road network, on the other hand, is under developed.
The international time zone for Congo is GMT +1 and the international dialling code is +242. The principal airlines that fly to Brazzaville are Air Afrique, Air France, Sabena and Air Portugal. International airports are located at Brazzaville and Pointe Noire and several smaller airports are served by the national airline, Lina Congo. All nationals require visas in order to visit Congo.
A superior insurance service is provided by the local representative of AfriNet, risk managers and insurance brokers of Africa.
The state of health, the current immunisation status, location and the local disease situation lead to risk of contraction of cholera, hepatitis A, malaria, schistosomiasis, typhoid fever, and yellow fever in Congo. A risk assessment is recommended prior to arrival in the country.