Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Facts to assist you when travelling to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

DRC population

  • 102 million.

Capital and Largest City

  • Kinshasa.

Official Language(s)

  • French, Lingala, Kikongo, Swahili, and Tshiluba.

Currency

  • Congolese franc.

Office Hours

  • 08:00 – 17:00.

Weekend

  • Saturday – Sunday.

Time Zone

  • UTC +1 to +2.

Calling Code

  • +243.

Tipping

  • If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable.

Embassies

  • Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city.

Government

  • Felix Tshisekedi is the 5th president of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Climate

  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo lies on the Equator, with one-third of the country to the north and two-thirds to the south. The climate is hot and humid in the river basin and cool and dry in the southern highlands, with a cold, alpine climate in the Rwenzori Mountains. South of the Equator, the rainy season lasts from October to May and north of the Equator, from April to November. Along the Equator, rainfall is fairly regular throughout the year. During the wet season, thunderstorms often are violent but seldom last more than a few hours.

Transport

  • The main airport in the DRC is the N’djili Airport, located in Kinshasa. Ground transport in the Democratic Republic of Congo has always been difficult. The terrain and climate of the Congo Basin present serious barriers to road and rail construction, and the distances are enormous across this vast country. Rail transportation is provided by the Congo Railroad Company and the Office of the Uele Railways. The Democratic Republic of Congo has thousands of kilometres of navigable waterways. Traditionally, water transport has been the dominant means of moving around in approximately two-thirds of the country.

Economy

  • The DRC’s main industries that contribute to its economy include mining, mineral processing, consumer products, metal products, lumber, cement, and ship repair.

Hospitality

  • It is very important to know the gestures and mannerisms when interacting with locals, so as to not be considered rude. When in DRC, do not use your left hand as it is used for personal hygiene. It is common practice in the local culture to touch one another when greeting each other, but it is ultimately expressive of their culture and values. Other things that might be important to know is that in the DRC, pointing at someone is considered to be impolite. Objects are to be passed either with both hands or only the right hand, never with the left hand. Also note to never shake someone’s left hand.

Greetings

  • One of the best, most common, and most appropriate greetings for formal settings and to show politeness is ‘’Bonjour’’. This French greeting is widely acceptable as French is the official language of the country is widely spoken.

Money

  • The Congolese franc is the official currency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It used to be subdivided into 100 centimes, however, centimes no longer have any value and are therefore no longer used.

Transportation

  • The Democratic Republic of Congo, unfortunately, does not have an extensive transport network. Many of the roads are not paved or are in a bad condition. Taxis are often the best way to travel between the sights, especially in Kinasha and other towns and cities. In the case that you may want to cover large distances in a short span of time, then road transport is not really an option. Instead, one of the 200+ airports spread around the country may better suit your travel needs.

Safety

  • The DRC is a deeply troubled country with a tumultuous past. The arrival of Europeans in the late fifteenth century, and the colonisation by Belgium shortly thereafter, stripped the country of its abundance of rich natural resources. Post independence violence in the form of war persisted in the country, further disadvantaging the nation. The DRC still struggles to break free from its reputation as a country of ”darkness”. The country faces huge challenges, but its people are welcoming and warm. However, the fact remains that it is not the safest country to travel to.

Culture

  • The culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is varied and reflects the diversity and different customs that coexist in the country. Congolese people have a strong sense of tribal identity. There are 242 languages spoken in the country, with perhaps a similar number of ethnic groups. They combine culture and tradition with religion, as well as taking influences from western culture- owing to the effects of colonisation- and abroad. The vast majority of the population are followers of Christianity, while the rest of them follow traditional religious beliefs. However, even those who follow Christianity often conflate the religion with their traditional beliefs that they hold on to.

Shops

  • There are a few shopping centres in the DRC that resemble that of western countries. There are also some online stores, which are very convenient for expats who have not yet settled in. However, ecommerce is still in the beginning stages in the DRC.

 

 

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Part of our identity at Relocation Africa is the fact that we are multifaceted and diverse. We are engaged in numerous independent and international commercial initiatives outside of our company such as EuRA, which we are a proud member of, and we take pleasure in the satisfaction and fulfilment that comes from our involvement in external causes and activities.  

 

Relocation Africa celebrates every achievement, triumph, and milestone, and pays homage to each of them, whether great or small, in order to acknowledge their individual importance.  

 

We celebrate being a member of the Cape Chapters, which is a branch of the South African Chamber of Commerce, based in the UK. The SACC is an organisation that promotes fair trade and investment into and out of South Africa. Additionally, the South African Chamber of Commerce also acts as a meeting point for South African business in the UK and promotes business opportunities between the two nations. Prioritising South African businesses first and foremost, the SACC considers themselves to be a means through which crucial knowledge about relevant business practices can be shared, a platform through which advice and training can be offered to its members, as well as a united voice in instances when dealing with government bodies and representatives.  

 

Our director with representatives who attended the SACC-Cape Chambers launch event

With specific focus on the Western Cape, the South African Chamber of Commerce hosted the Cape Chapters launch event in celebration of the organisation’s new developments and partnerships. The launch event was undertaken by 130 guests, all of whom were prominent figures, diplomats, and stakeholders in the industry. The launch event was officialised with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was conducted by the British High Commissioner, Anthony Phillipson, and the Chairman of the SACC, Sharon Constançon. Celebrations filled the air as guests enjoyed a banquet of delicious refreshments, engaged in constructive conversations, and displayed gratitude to the long list of proud sponsors who each played a role in the success of the evening.  

 

Relocation Africa graciously and generously consolidated their position in the industry, and their keen interest in the new opportunities that this cooperation will produce, with their commitment to strengthening and establishing relationships, by being one of the many sponsors of the Cape Chapters launch event. Given the company’s allegiance and dedication to establishing international connections, as well as their location in the birthplace of the Cape Chapters, the Western Cape, such proceedings seemed fitting. 

 

Other sponsors whose assistance was integral to the success of the evening are:  

 

  • Natalie Naudé, who provided the evening’s entertainment. The Congo Cowboys kept the guests entertained with their exhilarating performances that are representative of the coalescence of African and international efforts.  
  • Frankie Bells Real Estate, for their significant cash donation that stands as testimony to their commitment to the growth of UK-South Africa relations. 
  • David Naudé, the trusted and creative photographer, and Bjorn Salsone, the reliable MC extraordinaire. 
  • Abroadscope, whose support has been instrumental in allowing for a seamless and successful event. 
  • The British High Commission, who provided the venue and refreshments for the launch event.  
  • Table Mountain water, who sponsored the water, and De Grendel, who sponsored the wines. 

 

 

The purpose of the Cape Chapter is essentially to improve economic associations and business relations between the United Kingdom and South Africa, particularly the Western Cape. Its commencement is representative of the efforts of all involved parties to promote innovation, collaboration, and trade partnerships. The Commencement of the Cape Chapters is primarily based in the Western Cape owing to its ideal location, its diverse and ever-growing business community, as well as its entrepreneurial spirit. However, the organisation has every intention to spread beyond the province’s borders and into the rest of the country.  

 

Sharon Constançon, Chairman of the SA Chamber of Commerce UK, in her extraordinary speech at the launch event, describing the Cape Chapter, said:  

 

“The launch of the Cape Chapter is a momentous occasion for the South African Chamber of commerce UK. It signifies our commitment to expanding our reach and strengthening our presence in key regions. With its dynamic business community and entrepreneurial spirit, the Western Cape is a natural choice for our next chapter. We look forward to working closely with local businesses, government agencies, and partners to create new avenues for growth, trade, and collaboration.” 

 

Apart from successful trade and collaboration, the Cape Chapters will also produce lots of fruitful benefits for all parties, including more investments, cultural enrichment, and a large medium for the exchange of knowledge. Most importantly, the Cape Chapter, and all that it entails, will pave the way for a prosperous UK-South Africa partnership.  

 

Other benefits from this initiative include strengthening the bi-lateral ties and professional relationships between South Africa and the UK by:  

 

  • Advocating for Business 
  • Promoting Trade and Partnerships 
  • Celebrating Culture and Heritage 
  • Encouraging Investment 
  • Cultivating Knowledge Exchange 

 

Our director with representatives who attended the SACC-Cape Chambers launch event

Being an organisation whose primary objective is growth, the South African Chamber of Commerce is always inviting and accepting memberships from any credible South African business who shares its interests in the strengthening of global commercial connections. Signing up for a membership is as easy as visiting their website by clicking here and following the prompts. There are multiple variations of SACC memberships to suit their large and diverse audience, including memberships for young professionals, student associates, entrepreneurs, NGO’s, SME’s, corporates, as well as platinum memberships and strategic memberships. Each of these memberships are equipped with their own advantages and benefits.  

 

Some of SACC’s most prestigious and renowned membership holders are amongst the likes of Absa Bank, AngloAmerican, Investec, and Barclays.  

 

Some impressive advantages of being a member of SACC include:  

 

  • Guaranteed invitations to all events, including private and international functions, to network and build relationships, and learn.  
  • Earning up to 10% from any commercial returns received by SACC when sourcing business leads to hand to British Chamber. 
  • Earning up to 25% of the commercial returns received by SACC when fostering direct business introduction to British Chamber. 
  • Ability to place your services on offer on the Business Hub for proactive engagement of services to other members. 
  • Involvement in projects, with appropriate praise and acknowledgements.  
  • Platform to promote achievements and accolades. 
  • Possible discounted membership or attendance rates. 

 

The Cape Chapters launch event presented an amazing opportunity to network with the representatives of those companies already involved, and we are certain that, with continuous involvement of South African businesses and the perpetual growing number of their members, there will be many more evenings like this. The South African Chamber of Commerce and the Cape Chapter look forward to many more delightful evenings and events.  

 

The South African Chamber of Commerce holds a great deal of opportunities for commercial growth and development, regardless of the stage or nature of your business – whether an entrepreneur, an SME, or a large corporate. Their website is filled with educational pieces that can benefit not only those seeking to join their membership program, but also individuals and organisations seeking to gain information on relevant topics.  

 

In another recent event, Relocation Africa also had the honour of attending another function held by the Cape Chapters at Cape Town’s very own Royal Cape Yacht Club. The evening was spectacular, with an amazing line-up of speakers shedding much needed light on important topics in the industry. From rule of law, to the best way to go about attaining a visa, and the state of the global economy in relation to industry, the conversation went above the expectations of the audience. Relocation Africa is proud to be a part of the SACC UK, and a proud member of the Cape Chapters.   

 

 

Visit their website to stay informed or join their memberships or email nnaude@sachamber.co.uk for more information.    

 

Visit our Knowledge Centre to access our news posts, exclusive blogs, and insightful webinars. To read more about other initiatives and organisations that Relocation Africa is involved in, check out our article on the 2023 EuRA Sustainability Symposium 

 

Sao Tome beach with local fishermen in boat

Facts to assist you while travelling to São Tomé.

 

São Tomé population

  • 231 856.

Capital and Largest City

  • São Tomé.

Official Language(s)

  • Portuguese.

Currency

  • The Dobra.

Office Hours

  • São Tomé follows the ILO regulation. This means that employees in São Tomé work an average of 8 hours a day, five days a week.

Weekend

  • Saturday – Sunday.

Time Zone

  • UTC.

Calling Code

  • +239.

Tipping

  • If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable.

Embassies

  • Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city.

Government

  • Carlos Manuel Vila Nova is the current president of São Tomé. He has been in office since 2021.

Climate

  • The island of São Tomé, located in the Gulf of Guinea and near the Equator, has a warm tropical climate. The island is hot and humid throughout the year, with a slightly warmer period from January to April and a cooler period from June to August. The island is covered with beautiful forests and hills and experiences a dry season from June to September. The country receives most of its rain from April to May and experiences a second rainy period later in the year that lasts from October to November.

Transport

  • Transport in São Tomé is primarily dependent on road infrastructure for local needs, and airports and sea travel for all its international needs. The main airport in São Tomé is the São Tomé International Airport. There are seaports in São Tomé by Ana Chaves Bay, and another one in Neves.

Economy

  • Sugar plantations were set up under Portuguese colonial rule and the island was used for the transshipment of slaves. Since the 1800’s the country’s economy has been dependent on plantation and agriculture. The economy of São Tomé is still traditionally reliant on cocoa but is experiencing considerable changes due to the country’s investment in the development of its oil industry in the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea. The primary crop in São Tomé is cocoa, making up for about 95% of exports. Other export crops include copra, palm kernels, and coffee.

Hospitality

  • Etiquette plays an integral role in São Tomé. When meeting friends and acquaintances, it is important to greet them properly and ask how the person is doing. You may also ask about the person’s family. The elderly are treated with special respect and greeted first, especially if they have many children and grandchildren. In São Tomé being invited to someone’s home is a favour that is most commonly bestowed upon friends. Acquaintances often meet and make small talk outside on the street or by the fence to the garden.

Greetings

  • Due to its Portuguese influence, ‘’Olá’’ is the best choice of greeting for most social situations regardless of the person you are addressing or if it is a formal or informal setting. ‘’Hi” in Portuguese is ‘’Oi!’’, which is used when greeting friends and is very Informal. ‘’Tudo bem?’’ means ‘’How are you?’’ and is suitable for both formal and informal situations.

Money

  • The dobra is the official currency of São Tomé. It is abbreviated as ‘’Db’’ and is divided into 100 cêntimos. The first dobra (STD) was introduced in 1977, replacing the escudo at par. The name derives from Portuguese ‘’dobra’’, meaning “doubloon.

Transportation

  • Driving in São Tomé occurs on the right-hand side, and visitors will need an international driving permit to rent a car. Roads in São Tomé town are paved, but some are in poor condition. Main roads outside of town are paved but are in even worse condition, while secondary roads are often unpaved. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and animals on the roads can be a major hazard especially at night when most roads are unlit.

Safety

  • São Tomé is a safe country with an amazing laid-back nature. Crime is not commonly experienced by visitors, but you should still take precautions by staying out of trouble and not making a target of yourself. Even petty crimes such as burglary and pickpocketing are infrequent and serious felonies such as armed robbery or rape, are unheard of. Same-sex relationships are not illegal in São Tomé, however LGBTQ travelers may face discrimination.

Culture

  • São Tomé is home to a population of around 231 million citizens. Their diverse population groups consist of the mestico, forros (descendants of freed slaves), servicals, and tongas (contract laborers from African countries and their descendants), Europeans, Asians. Portuguese is the official language and is the language spoken by 98.4% of the population. Other widely spoke languages in the country are Cabo Verdian, French, Forro, Angolar, and English. The vast majority of the population follow the Christian faith is the religion of the majority in the nation. São Tomé was once a very traditional country with defined gender roles for men and women. However, women are now employed in various fields like academics, healthcare, and other service-related industries. Women are also represented in politics, administration, and business.

Shops

  • São Tomé’s capital shopping centres and, in other areas that are developed, may also have major supermarkets, clothing stores, liquor stores, furniture, homeware, and electronic shops, in addition to local banks and ATMs.

 

 

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One of the South African work visa categories is the critical skills work visa, which refers to a list of skills or qualifications that are lacking in the country.

On the 3rd of October 2023, a newly updated critical skills list was published, detailing the skills that South Africa is currently experiencing a scarcity of. The new list gave emphasis to two specific skills: Veterinary Nurses and Veterinarians.

Candidate Engineers may now also apply for critical skills work visas, which was not possible before, as the Engineering Council did not issue recommendation letters for this category.

One of the most challenging aspects of the previous critical skills list was that it required the critical skills visa applicant to submit a proof of application in order to attain a certificate of registration with a SAQA accredited body. Additionally, it also required from the applicant a critical skills recommendation letter, from the same SAQA accredited body, as confirmation of the applicant’s skills or qualifications. This was particularly difficult owing to the fact that some SAQA accredit bodies do not offer the services of issuing such recommendation letters, and in some instances, applicants could not find a specific SAQA accredited body in line with their critical skill.

The newly updated critical skills list refers to proof of application for a certificate of registration with a SAQA accredited professional body, where applicable (i.e., if required by law), or a critical skills recommendation letter from a SAQA accredited body.

 

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