DR Congo Country Report
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, in particular resulting from the 2015 provincial boundaries redrawing and newly elected officials (from 2019) taking office, will remain significant operational risks.
Militant violence remains endemic in the Kivus region, but has decreased in the Kasai region following the inauguration of President Tshisekedi in January 2019. ADF, FDLR, and other militants will likely carry out attacks on civilians, security forces, and road cargo in the Kivus regions and northeast DRC. MONUSCO cutbacks limit its efficacy further from its main bases, and it lacks the capability to respond effectively to any violent crises in new areas. Helicopters and small aircraft are at highest risk of attack in eastern DRC, particularly low-flying aircraft within range of small-arms fire, heavy machine-guns, and RPGs, or during take-off and landing. Terrorism risks in Katanga's copperbelt are low.
Violent crime, particularly armed robbery and home invasions by semi-organised criminal and bandit groups, has become more frequent in urban areas (including Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Kolwezi, and Likasi) and along the major roads that connect them, including in Kinshasa's upscale Gombe neighbourhood. The most commonly reported crimes include theft, robbery and pickpocketing, usually performed by groups of young males. Localised looting and robbery are also likely during infrequent urban protests, but the intentional violent targeting of expatriates is unlikely, although individuals of South Asian appearance are at higher risk of violence due to resentment of recent allegedly racist murders of Congolese in India. Kidnap-for-ransom risks for locals are moderate, but remain low for expatriates in Kinshasa and the copperbelt (southern Katanga region). A lack of adequate training, supervision, and salary payments means security service members are often the chief perpetrators of crime. Law enforcement in urban areas is often by unofficial gangs acting with little respect for legal processes. Theft of cargo from mining sites in the Katanga region is common. In February 2019, authorities announced they had seized more than 35,000 tons of stolen copper and cobalt ores (likely from the Lusuishi and Lukuni mines) from a warehouse on the Lubumbashi-Likasi road.
Border areas are also extremely at risk for transnational crime, especially along the borders of Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, CAR, and Burundi. Militant groups pose the highest robbery and kidnap risks (usually for ransom) to expatriates and tourists in North and South Kivu, but also pose significant threats elsewhere in the east (particularly Ituri and Tanganyika provinces, and the Uele provinces) and in the Kasai region.
Interstate war involving DRC is unlikely, as new President Felix Tshisekedi is seeking to secure regional and international support for his administration, rather than provoke external conflicts, while he works towards consolidating power domestically. Angola and Rwanda are unlikely to intervene militarily in DRC, except in the unlikely event that there are significant escalations of violence in Kinshasa or along their borders. Mutiny and coup attempt risks, while unlikely, will be heightened if sustained anti-government protests (themselves unlikely) coincide with non-payment of security forces' wages. Violent incidents involving Ugandan or Burundian security forces along their respective borders are unlikely to escalate into wider conflict.
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