Thursday, February 12, 2009

How Will the Economic Downturn Affect Congo?

Short answer: Not well. Excellent report from Joe Bavier, at Reuters:
An economic crash that may empty Congo's state coffers within weeks has saddled the country's poor masses with rising prices and a sliding currency, threatening yet more instability in the vast African state.

The global downturn has stalled Democratic Republic of Congo's minerals-driven recovery from a 1998-2003 war, raising fears of a return to the social chaos and hyperinflation suffered under late kleptocratic dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

"The prices have all gone up, and the economy is on its knees," said a woman haggling for bread with a kerb-side vendor at the chaotic central market in Kinshasa, the dilapidated capital and home to over 8 million people.

"A child can't just eat bread. It's not enough," she said, shoving a loaf and a half into a bag before storming off.

A loaf that cost 100 Congolese francs just two months ago today sells for 150 francs. Essentials like flour, rice, and meat have been subject to similar price hikes.

For many of Congo's poor, paying more is not an option. They must simply eat less.

1 comment:

  1. I read in an article today that the Congolese Franc (against the dollar) has fell in value from 500 francs to 800 francs.

    More people will be finding it hard to afford to eat.