The Congo Republic appears to have borrowed a page from the Mozambican handbook of financial shenanigans, according to a new report by rights campaign group Global Witness. And once again, the African oil industry is in the campaigners' crosshairs.
The Congo Republic is Africa's third-largest oil producer, which makes it prime failed state material. Corruption and oil generally flow together on the world's poorest continent. On Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, the Congo Republic has a ranking of 165 out of the 180 countries included in the survey. Such a low ranking is the hallmark of a kleptocracy.
And the government is working hard to justify and maintain that ranking, according to a new report released on Monday 27 January by Global Witness. It found that the state oil company SNPC - a byword for graft since its inception in 1998 - had $3.3-billion in previously undisclosed oil-backed liabilities on its books.
That "could bring Congo's total public debt to almost $13-billion - adding over a third to the IMF's latest estimates," Global Witness said. This would also bring Congo's debt to 115% of gross domestic product (GDP), up from 86%. That is a pretty steep difference and one that...