A windfall could be returning to the Republic of Congo if the official economic figures are anything to go by.
Five years after going into a tailspin, oil the country’s lifeblood is flowing at a record 350,000 barrels per day after a new field, Moho Nord, went on tap.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that the central African state will record growth of 4.0 percent for 2019, after 1.6 percent in 2018 and two years of contraction in 2016 and 2017.
But in Pointe-Noire, a port city that is home to around a fifth of Congo’s 4.5 million people, many say any upturn has yet to reach them.
Deschagrains Ebeh, 37, is head of De-Network, one of many companies that did well out of servicing Congo’s rush for black gold.
Today, Ebeh’s business card lists a dozen activities including computing, video surveillance, training, auditing and consulting, website design and even a call centre.
He had to diversify to survive and pitch his business to individuals rather than well-heeled corporations.
To save money, he trimmed his payroll to 10 people, works as both managing director and technical director, and opened up part of his office space for co-working to ease the burden of his $1,120 monthly rent.
With the oil crash, “we lost 50 percent of our clients and 60 percent of our customers,” said Ebeh.
In the halcyon year of 2014-15, his company had a turnover of 500 million CFA francs ($850,000).
“We haven’t made any profits for four years,” he said.Reports indicate that 50,000 jobs were also lost .
Presidential elections are due in 2021. The last ballot, in 2016, saw the re-election of Denis Sassou Nguesso, 76, triggering unrest in Brazzaville and armed conflict in the fertile region of Pool that cut the vital rail line between the capital and Pointe-Noire.