The Republic of Congo is a prime example of oil money gone wrong. Over 90% of the country’s export comes from oil, so with fluctuating oil prices the government budget can be high or low. In times when the oil price has been high, Brazzaville has hosted expensive events and festivals and undertaken big projects such as making fancy waterpumps (not like the manual pump they use everywhere else in West Africa) in the same colors as its flag in order to show the World and its people that it can beat above the belt, but when driving through the country there is almost no farming going on in this perfectly fertile land other than the small cassava farms in the villages.
As much as 40% of its population is employed by agriculture, but only 2% of the land is farmed- so this is where the country has its potential when the oil is running out in the future.
We have been met by some quite hospitable people when staying in the villages here too. One of the nights, the young chief of the village joined us for dinner like we usually offer then, but then he and some of his friends also stayed around with us the rest of the evening too. Apparently his wife ran a shop and was happy to supply us with lots of beer and pastis throughout the night, which also might have been the reason.
Only five percent of the roads in Congo are paved, but the dirt roads were still really good and the red, yellow and green waterpumps that were available everywhere made me want to come back one day to cycle between the villages and national parks in the North. Getting towards the biggest cities of Brazzaville and Pointe Noire I was blown away by suddenly seeing brand new, completely empty four lane highways that the Chinese had built and when we stopped at a to Total gas station that had a grill house with cheeseburgers I felt that I was somewhere completely different than West Africa. A feeling short lived though as we right after crossed the border over to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Beers and a eighties fashion show while we wait for our passports to get stamped into Congo
Rather overlanding truck than local transportation in Congo
The official border sign when leaving Cobgo