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DRC – Using Digitalisation to Develop

It is estimated that less than 25% of the DRC’s population has a bank account – well below the regional average – in part due to the collapse of the formal banking sector in the 1980s and 1990s amid a period of profound political instability. Although the DRC has recently enjoyed greater stability, the country’s underdeveloped transport infrastructure continues to cut off most citizens from banking. Internet reaches about 17% of the country’s population and the barriers to digital transformation are significant. Over 66% of Congolese people live on less than $2 a day, and most have no obvious incentive to secure a bank account.

Fintech disrupters also face a high cost of entry to an ecosystem dominated by big players like Ecobank and UBA as well as established telecom operators like Vodacom Congo and Orange RDC. But innovation is changing established practices. Improving telecoms delivers financial services closer to where people live and work. Crucially, these reforms have led the World Bank to resume its budget funding support to the DRC after a 17-year gap, which includes a new $250m operation to support the government’s reforms in areas such as market liberalisation, public finance, and sustainable forestry, as well as $500m to expand transport and the digital infrastructure which will be key to driving the Congolese economy.

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