Michael Page Africa recruits all over the African continent. Our easy to use guides give you the lowdown on living and working in selected countries in Central Africa.
Our quick reference guides have vital information on pay, benefits, tax and visas - everything you need to work and live in Congo:
Working in Congo
Pay & Benefits
The minimum salary is 335 Congolese francs (CDF) per day. Here is detailed information about salaries and wages in the Democratic Republic of Congo (French only).
The Congolese tax system is characterised by the multiplicity of taxes. Its fragmented nature makes it difficult to administer. Since much income thereby avoids taxation, fiscal reform is currently under way.
To work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, you should first apply for a short-stay visa (some visas are issued for 1, 3, 6 or 9 months). Then, once in the country you can apply for a work visa. A letter from the employer stating the mission is required. The papers must be drawn up by a lawyer. In addition, a valid passport and a yellow fever vaccine certificate are required to process the request.
To apply, it is best to contact the nearest Democratic Republic of Congo Embassy or High Commission directly. If there is none in your home country, all enquiries should be sent via telegram to the Immigration office in Kinshasa.
Living in Congo
French is the official language. Dialects such as Lingala, Tshiluba, Swahili and Kikongo are also common.
The Democratic Republic of Congo was formerly called Zaire. It is now also called CongoKinshasa.
Gombe, the area where most expats live, does not have the power outages other areas have. The private sector is making progress here, although this once modern country shows the signs of years of civil unrest.
Hospitals in Congo-Kinshasa are not up to international standards. Only a few private clinics in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi may provide appropriate care, so it is better to go to a private clinic when you need to consult a doctor or a dentist. There are reliable clinics in Kinshasa, however. Healthcare professionals will require cash in advance for any consultation, so getting health insurance in your home country - to ensure proper reimbursement - is recommended. As pharmacies may not have all the drugs necessary, it is advisable to bring all your medications and prescription drugs with you if you are being treated prior to departure.
Vaccination against yellow fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria, cholera, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, meningococcus, tetanus and rabies is needed. In addition, anti-malarial drugs and measures to avoid insect bites should be taken. It is also recommended to avoid drinking tap water.
The business centre is mainly located in the Gombe district (in Kinshasa city centre). Credit cards are accepted in some hotels, but are not generally widely used. The main banks are Banque Internationale pour l’Afrique au Congo (BIAC), Banque Commerciale du Congo (BCDC) and Rawbank.
To open an account, you need a valid passport, a non-resident or resident visa, and a letter from your employer stating your salary.
You can withdraw money with a credit card at the BCDC bank, but at the service counter only. Procrédit is currently the only bank with ATMs (Visa card only). You can check the MasterCard ATM locator page to know whether there are more ATMs available by the time you go to Congo.
Finding a Property
The main cities in Congo-Kinshasa are Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Mbuji-Mayi, Kolwezi, Kananga, Kisangani and Likasi.
It is relatively easy to find a place to stay. It is not always necessary to use the services of a real estate agency, as you can find ads online. It may be easier to use word of mouth to find apartments.
Most landlords will demand a bond and three months' rent in advance. Expats prefer to live in the Gombe residential area. Hiring security staff is recommended. In addition, housekeepers are commonplace in Congo.
By air: Air France, SN Brussels Airlines, Kenya Airways and Camair-co fly to
Congo-Kinshasa. To get around in the country, however, you should avoid flying through domestic Congolese airlines, as they are all on the European Union blacklist.
By road: Roads are in bad condition, especially during the rainy season (from October to May). Four-wheel drive is recommended. There is little public transportation, and what there is tends to be unreliable. Major cities have many taxis, though. Hiring a driver is compulsory when renting a car. The driver's salary is in addition to the fare. Some rental agencies based in Kinshasa: Hertz-RDC, Europcar, Avis-Atlas Rent a Car and Renka. An International Driving Permit is required.
By train: Two railways connect Kinshasa and Matadi (twice a week only). The connection between Kinshasa and Katanga provinces has been re-established, but service from Kamina to Kindu and Kalemie is interrupted.
Cost of Living
The currency is the Congolese franc (CDF). The exchange rate at the time of writing (May 2011) is: 1 Euro = 1,337 CDF and 1 USD = 910 CDF.
The inflation rate is quite high in the DRC, around 26.2% in 2010. For expatriates, however, the cost of living remains quite reasonable.
Here are some prices for common expenditures :