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Wednesday, 7 August, 2002, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
DR Congo wins World Bank aid
The capital city of Kinshasa
Kinshasa used to be the Paris of Africa
The World Bank has agreed to lend the Democratic Republic of Congo $410m (266.7m) to help get the country back on its feet.

In addition, the republic will receive a $44m grant through the bank's International Development Association (IDA) arm, which only lends to very poor countries.

President Joseph Kabila
Kabila has won the approval of the Bank
The money will help DR Congo with its rehabilitation and reconstruction programme, aimed at improving agricultural production and restoring infrastructure.

The country is dire need of new roads, electricity, water and irrigation, as well as social services to provide healthcare and education.

The $44m IDA grant will go towards projects to prevent and treat Aids, as well as other diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.

"The government has demonstrated its commitment to implementing economic reforms... but success depends on the rapid availability of external support," said World Bank country director for Congo, Emmanuel Mbi.

A new start?

DR Congo is tentatively emerging from a period of conflict, and desperate needs aid to improve the county's economic prospects.

A street in Kinshasa
Much of Kinshasa's infrastructure has been shattered

In June, the International Monetary Fund lent the country $750m to reduce poverty and increase economic growth.

"Experience in other post-conflict countries... shows that the early provision of 'peace dividends', in the form of concrete actions that reach the population, is critical to sustain the momentum for peace," Mr Mbi added.

In the last year, the government of President Joseph Kabila has endeared itself to international lenders by pursuing economic reforms with IMF advice.

In the early 1990s, the IMF and the World Bank had stopped lending to the country - then known as Zaire - because it fell behind on its debt repayments.

Paris of Africa

Over the last decade, the country has suffered political and economic isolation, as well the ravages of civil war.

The corrupt government of the former dictator also robbed the country of funds and resources.

The capital city, Kinshasa, once known as the Paris of Africa, has very little infrastructure left and many of its citizens live in poverty.

The country's per capita income of 23 cents a day makes it one of the poorest in the world.

It was generally felt in the international community that if lenders failed to support DR Congo, it was in danger falling into chaos once more.

See also:

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