DR Congo Country Report
Mass protests in urban areas, and armed violence by Mai-Mai militias in eastern DRC, will probably increase during 2018, in opposition to President Kabila failing to hold elections (already delayed from November 2016). War and terrorism risks are severe in the east, particularly in the Kivus and Ituri, and in the Kasais. Militant groups pose a high risk of injury to individuals, road ambushes, and extortion in the Kivu, Haut-Uele, and Ituri provinces, as well as in central and northern Katanga region. Strikes are most likely in Kinshasa, Katanga, and Matadi and Boma ports. With improved minerals export growth, real GDP growth of 3.7% is forecasted for 2018, although a sharp depreciation of the Congolese franc during 2017 has dragged on private consumption and decreased officialreserves.
Decades of underfunding and neglect have left the DRC with one of the world's worst infrastructure systems, with a dilapidated transport network and erratic energy supply, despite the end of the 1998–2003 civil war and government commitments to improve physical infrastructure. The government and World Bank are pushing for greater multinational involvement in the mining sector through improving its policy, legal, and regulatory framework. Corruption, double-taxation demands, and overlapping claims of authority, resulting from the 2015 provincial boundaries redrawing and the delaying of elections, will likely worsen in 2018.
Intensifying Mai-Mai militia attacks in the Kivus are likely in early 2018. ADF, Rwandan Hutu (FDLR), and other militants will also likely carry out attacks on civilians, security forces, and road cargo in the Kivu and Kasai provinces and northeast DRC. The presence of the UN Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) reduces the risks of attacks on towns and travellers in North Kivu (except Beni and Butembo, where ADF attacks remain likely) and South Kivu. Helicopters and small aircraft in the east are at highest risk of attack, particularly low-flying aircraft that are within range of small-arms fire, heavy machine-guns, and RPGs, or during take-off and landing.
Mutiny and coup attempt risks will be heightened if widespread and sustained protests against constitutional changes coincide with the non-payment of security forces wages, particularly in Kinshasa. From October, Mai-Mai militias will be increasingly likely to capture for up to 48 hours medium-size localities in the Kivus, but MONUSCO troops will likely protect or assist in retaking Goma, Bukavu, and Uvira, mitigating Kivus civil war risks. In the one-year outlook, Rwandan-Congolese security co-operation will likely continue to satisfy Rwandan security concerns regarding the DRC-based Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), but interstate war risks (directly or proxy intervention) will increase again if anti-FDLR offensives stall.
Political demonstrations in opposition to constitutional changes and electoral delays are likely in 2018, particularly in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Bukavu, Goma, and the Kasais. Mob violence and riots are most likely to result from impromptu protests, which can quickly and unexpectedly grow out of public gatherings for high-profile funerals or major football matches, rather than pre-announced demonstrations for which security forces can prepare. Violent confrontations using clubs and machetes are also likely between rival party supporters. Rioters are likely to target properties associated with political parties, media outlets, and Indian and Chinese-owned businesses.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all travelers over one year of age entering the country.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Volcanic activity in North Kivu makes the eastern part of the country vulnerable to natural disaster. Although the last significant volcanic eruption was in 2004, minor eruptions or earthquakes may occur, as was experienced in August 2015 in Goma and Bukavu.
Pockets of methane gas and carbon dioxide (linked to volcanic activity) are present around and on Lake Kivu.
Given the country's large size, air transportation is preferred for any long-distance trips. However, domestic aviation safety standards in the DRC remain poorly enforced. Despite various safe western airline companies operating in the DRC, all local airlines are listed on the European Union blacklist.
According to French authorities, only 15 percent of the roadways in the country are drivable, with driving conditions significantly worse during and after the rainy season (April to October in the north, and from November to March in the south).
Dangerous driving conditions created by poorly maintained roads are exacerbated by locals' aggressive driving habits and poor vehicle maintenance. Moreover, all night travel should be avoided due to the lack of public lighting and traffic signs. Outside major cities, all travel must be done during the day, with all-terrain (i.e. 4X4) vehicles with adequate supplies of water, food and fuel. Travelers should also ensure that the vehicle contains spare parts (wheels, cables, etc.) and have effective means of telecommunication.
Public transportation is nonexistent for the most part and otherwise not recommended.
Rail travel should also be avoided as the rail network can be unsafe and unreliable.
Ferries linking Kinshasa to Brazzaville via the Congo River exist, however, it is recommended to ensure vessels are adequately maintained and have life vests on board as not all ferries adhere to proper safety standards. On Lake Kivu, daily shuttles link Goma to Bukavu. Accidents are sometimes reported.
Access to electricity is not guaranteed throughout the country and power outages are common, especially in Kinshasa.
Access to drinking water is also not guaranteed in the DRC; in 2015 only 50 percent of the population had access (80 percent located in urban areas and 30 percent in rural areas), and some Kinshasa neighborhoods experience drinking water shortages.
Use of mobile phones and internet is expanding in the country. In the past, authorities have unilaterally cut all access to social media communications in Kinshasa (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), including during violent political protests in December 2016.
The climate is equatorial in the north of the DRC and rainy all year round (with a slight respite from rains in the months from December to February) with constant temperatures (26°C). In the extreme north the climate is wet and tropical. Heading south, the climate becomes drier with more distinct seasons and a shorter rainy season. In the south, the dry season lasts for some six months (May to September). In the highlands the climate is alpine at intermediate elevations and with abundant snowfall at the highest elevations. At the mouth of the Congo River the climate is more “oceanic” (cooler temperatures, lower levels of rainfall) due to the cold Banguela current.
There are no emergency services in the DRC.
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz