500 million hectares andover 100 million inhabitants
Situated in Central Africa, on both sides of the equator, the Congo basin is drained by the Congo river and its numerous tributaries. The source of the Congo river is in the Katanga province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With its exceptional biodiversity, the Congo Basin primal forest covers nearly 106 million hectares. This "lung of the earth" is only second to the Amazon in size. The Congo Basin covers nearly 530 million hectares and spans across six countries : the Republic of Congo, Gabon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroun and the Equatorial Guinea. Its combined population is about 100 million. Aside from the Central African Republic, the Basin Congo countries have outlets to the Atlantic Ocean. However, the Democratic Republic of Congo has only some 40 km of coastal land.
Abundant natural resources
The Congo Basin countries have abundant and diversified resources. Some (timber, hydrocarbons, mines) are exploited in a number of countries, but most of them are insufficiently processed or used mainly for livelihood activity (agriculture, breeding). Exploitation methods have to be environmentally friendly and create added value services and jobs.
Forest / Timber
Forest / Timber
The Congo Basin rainforest covers 300 million hectares – more than half the total size of the Congo Basin.
Over 99 per cent of the forest area is made up of primal forest or naturally regenerated. The forest exploitation is very often reduced to the first and second transformation of wood.
The Basin Congo countries have vast arable land, conducive to agriculture and breeding, that accounts for about 40 per cent of uncultivated land. This land, suitable for cultivation in Subsaharan Africa, represents 12 percent of the land available worldwide. Agriculture has great potential and generates jobs. But this vital sector is largely neglected and still uses widely rudimentary techniques.
The Congo Basin has a wide range of mineral resources. They are composed of metals (copper, cobalt, tin, uranium, iron, titanium, coltan, manganese, gold, etc.) and non-metals (precious stones including diamonds, phosphate, limestone and coal). Mainly exported, these resources are insufficiently transformed.
Hydrocarbons have great potential in the Congo Basin. It is important onshore as well as offshore. Out of the five oil-producing Basin Congo countries, three (the Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of Congo) are in the top ten of the oil-producing countries in Subsaharan Africa. Most of hydrocarbons drawn from these countries are exported. The refining techniques are not developed locally. These countries import refined products.
The hydraulic and hydroelectric resources of the vast Congo Basin river network have huge potential. This network is also a low-cost mode of transport. The Congo Basin has a 12,000 km-navigable network, covering nearly 4 million sq. km in nine countries. The three main waterways : The Congo river The Oubangui river The Kasai river Which run respectively from Kisangani, Ilebo on the Kasai river (DR Congo) and Bangui on the Oubangui (Central African Republic) – converge on the Pool Malebo.