In the lead-up to the December 20 elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), one of the foremost concerns for voters is the cost of living, with citizens grappling with soaring inflation. Dissatisfaction is palpable, as evidenced by disapproving voices echoing at the Martyrs’ Stadium in response to the surge in the dollar’s value.
This discontent has surfaced on two notable occasions in recent months: firstly, at the opening of the Francophonie Games in late July when Christophe Lutundula addressed the audience, and secondly, during the commencement of Félix Tshisekedi’s election campaign in late November. It is a concern that the incumbent president encounters at nearly every stage of his campaign.
This week alone, the Central Bank reports a cumulative inflation rate of 2.3% (33% annually). This inflationary trend is attributed, in part, to the depreciation of the Congolese franc against the dollar.
Over the course of a year, the national currency has witnessed a depreciation exceeding 20% against the dollar (from 2000 Congolese francs (FC) per dollar in December 2022 to 2675 FC per dollar in December 2023).
According to the government, the situation is primarily explained by external factors, including the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of the war in Ukraine. The Finance Minister also points to fluctuations in commodity prices, notably the sharp decline in cobalt prices from $81,000 to $31,000 per ton between March 2022 and March 2023.
Internally, Kinshasa is grappling with substantial expenditures to fund the electoral process and address the conflict in the eastern part of the country involving the M23 rebel group.
Some experts suggest that the abundance of money in circulation during this electoral period may also contribute to the rise in the dollar’s value. In late November, the Prime Minister urged government officials responsible for monetary matters, fuel supply, and other essential commodities to remain vigilant.