July 5, 2017 / 7:07 AM / in 3 years

Congo Republic says economy to contract 1.9 pct in 2017

Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso speaks during a news conference after a meeting with Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi at Carthage Palace in Tunis January 22, 2015. REUTERS/Anis Mili/File Photo

BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) - The economy of Congo Republic is likely to shrink for a second consecutive year, the oil-producing nation’s government said on Tuesday, forecasting a 1.9 percent contraction in 2017, a downgrade from its earlier projection of 1 percent growth.

In a statement, Finance Minister Calixte Nganongo said the economy had been hit by lower than expected oil production due to the aging of many of the oilfields currently in production.

However, new oil projects, including Total’s Moho Nord, which came online in March, are scheduled to boost output by 25 percent to 350,000 barrels per day next year as they ramp up production.

Analysts expect that increase to help Congo leapfrog Equatorial Guinea to become Africa’s third-biggest crude producer.

Congo is the most resource-dependent country in the world, according to the World Bank, while commodities account for nearly 60 percent of its economic output.

The economy is also plagued by huge debt, civil unrest and widespread corruption, leaving roughly half the population stuck below the poverty line.

Reporting By Christian Elion; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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