The Democratic Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Kinshasa is a country in Central Africa. Its enormous size makes it, by area, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa, and the 11th-largest in the world.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely rich in natural resources but has suffered from political instability, a lack of infrastructure, corruption, and centuries of both commercial and colonial extraction and exploitation with little widespread development.
In this expat interview, Kizita shares with me her experience and thoughts living in the DRC as an expat.
What part of the country do you currently reside in?
I currently live in Bunia in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Why did you move to this country? And what do you currently do?
I moved to the DRC for work and I work for the United Nations as a Program Manager
How did you find the job you currently do?
I found my job online. All UN jobs are published on the website
Can you briefly explain the process of obtaining an expat visa for this country?I have the UNLP (United Nations Laissez-Passer) which is a secure travel document issued by the United Nations for its representatives and staff members with international assignments. It is recognized as a valid travel document by the Member States so I usually do not need a visa. However, the recruiting office will facilitate the process by providing the necessary documents to secure a visa. The visa request process is paid for by the recruiting office.
What was the relocation process like?
It wasn’t too bad as I was moving from Somalia to the DRC which in my opinion is a much friendlier country. I am quite used to relocating at short notice so I packed my bags and pretty much hopped on the plane. You would however receive an onboarding document from the recruiting office which tells you pretty much what you need to know about the country and placement. Your ticket is bought and any transit hotel bills paid.
What do you wish you had known before relocating to the DRC?
I wish I knew how expensive living here is.
What do you enjoy most about living here and what is the quality of life in the DRC?
I enjoy the fact that there is access to organic food. The DRC is such a huge country with the quality of life drastically different in Kinshasa as compared to other parts of the country. Generally, the currency most accepted is the USD and there’s a high expatriate concentration in the country which also explains why basic services are quite pricey.
The local population in some parts of the country have gone through years and years of conflict and this has influenced very much their perspectives with regards to the government and the military. In other words ‘not trusted’. This distrust is also extended to the international community to an extent.
The Big cities have a lot of amenities – fancy hotels and restaurants. A lot of investment has been made in the sector of education with a lot of primary and higher education institutions across the country.
How has working in a foreign country through the pandemic been for you?
Luckily, the first 8 months of the pandemic had me working from home. I am back at my duty station but the health and security restrictions are still a challenge.
What are the challenges you have faced and are there any negatives about living here?
The security situation. There are so many restrictions for international staff.
Is the city reasonably safe for foreigners?
Yes. Kinshasa the capital city is pretty safe.
How would you rate public transport? What are the different options for commuting? Must you own a car?
The road network is underdeveloped and travel from province to province is usually done by air. For those who cannot afford air travel which is very expensive, other options like buses and boats exist but this could take days… depending on the destination.
What is the healthcare system like? How would you rate healthcare? And what should expats know prior to relocating?
Health care is still below acceptable levels. If you do have prescription medications, it is important to come with your medications.
How would you rate accommodation/housing? And which are the safest areas to live in?
The houses are very modern and beautiful but also very expensive.
To me, the safest place to live in the DRC is in Kinshasa.
What is the cost of living here compared to your home country? What are the things you find relatively affordable? And what are the things you find expensive?
DRC is definitely more expensive
What’s the best advice you’d like to offer a new or prospective expat to this location?
DRC is a beautiful country with a lot of potential. However, very volatile as the security situation changes rapidly. Congolese are generally friendly but take your time to trust them. It’s also a very expensive country, especially in the big cities
Are you an expat and would love to share your expat experience? We’d love to hear from you by responding to our expat questionnaire here. As detaily as you possibly can. Remember your experience will serve as a guide for other expats who are looking to relocate to the same country.
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