Many expats working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo relocate to follow a short-term opportunity. Despite being a resource-rich country, the DRC suffers from severe hardship factors, including ongoing insecurity and underdeveloped infrastructure. As such, few expats see a move to the country as a permanent arrangement.
However, improving the business climate is a key national objective. Along with government plans to welcome a favourable business environment, major companies operating in the DRC offer decent compensation to their expat employees. Foreign workers, particularly in the corporate sector, are well paid. Expats may also be provided secure accommodation and medical insurance, as well as a driver for work purposes.
Those looking to do business in the DRC should weigh up a number of pros and cons while researching the job market and the best routes in securing employment.
Job market in the DRC
As part of governmental strategies for job creation and development, the DRC plans to diversify their economy, boosting employment in a range of areas. As well as mining, agriculture and forestry, sectors such as finance, banking, real estate and IT hope to expand.
The Congo is said to be one of the world's richest countries in terms of its natural resources. Many expats are employed in the mining industry, mining resources such as copper, cobalt, coltan, diamonds or gold – to name a few.
Humanitarian work is another sector that draws expats. There is a constant demand for healthcare professionals, and many NGOs in the DRC provide medical services and support.
The DRC is Africa's second-largest country, so the job market varies depending on the area. The capital, Kinshasa, is the largest and most developed city. Because it is an economic hub, most expats will find employment here. The mining region of Katanga and its capital, Lubumbashi, is also a popular destination for expats seeking employment, while those working in the humanitarian sector will likely be where the need is greatest: in the eastern Kivu provinces.
Finding a job in the DRC
Despite the DRC's status as one of the world's least developed countries, the cost of living in the capital city, Kinshasa, is high. It's recommended to move to the DRC with a job already in place.
Securing employment is not always easy. There are quotas on hiring foreigners in the DRC, which restrict the number of expats a company can employ. Foreigners also require a relevant work permit and work visa. The process can be complicated but is usually handled by the employer.
Many expats move here as part of an intra-company relocation. Networking and taking advantage of local contacts can be a great help. However, finding work through a large multinational corporation may secure a more favourable employment package.
Company websites, recruitment agencies and professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn are great resources. Other popular online job portals include Indeed, Careers24 and JobnetAfrica.
Work culture in the DRC
The Congolese are known to be friendly, and the workplace can feel quite welcoming. That said, this varies depending on the industry and individual company.
What is important to note is language. French is the language of business, and expats who are fluent in French or at least have a basic grasp will fare best.
Women in the workplace may also experience some culture shock. Few women have senior positions, and climbing the corporate ladder can be a challenge.