Moving to Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the second largest country in Africa, and located in the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa. Although years of civil war ended in 2003, the country continues to struggle with political and economic insecurity. Expats contemplating a move to the DRC should consider their options carefully, particularly if relocating with a family.
Rich in natural resources, the country’s mining sector is the biggest attraction for expats seeking employment in the DRC. Most expats moving to the DRC will find themselves in the capital, Kinshasa, or Lubumbashi, the capital of the southern copper-rich Katanga province. Aid work is another big sector attracting foreigners to the DRC, mostly to the volatile eastern provinces.
The DRC is very culturally and ethnically diverse with over 200 ethnic groups scattered across the country. This diversity has left the country at the epicentre of ethnic conflicts in the Great Lakes region for decades, with many different groups vying for control of the country’s resources.
The standard of infrastructure across the DRC is poor, with the provision of basic services in most towns, including electricity and water, often subject to disruptions, if present at all.
Security is the most pressing concern for foreigners living in the DRC. The country’s eastern provinces, in particular, remain insecure, with rebels active across the porous borders with Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. There are regular reports of clashes between rebels and government forces and the UN maintains a strong peacekeeping presence in the region. For this reason, many governments advise their nationals against travel to these regions, particularly North and South Kivu, and parts of the Orientale province. Overland travel in this region should be avoided.
The country’s healthcare system is in a dire state, and Western-standard medical facilities are virtually non-existent outside of Kinshasa. Any serious emergencies will require air evacuation to Europe or South Africa and expats should ensure that they have comprehensive medical insurance in place to cover such a possibility.
Expats will find the education system in the DRC well below what they would be used to in their own country, and sending their children to a local school isn't a viable option. There are a handful of international schools in Kinshasa, but schooling options are even more limited in other areas. Expats with children may want to consider homeschooling or sending their children abroad.