Modern History of Monetary and Financial Systems of Congo 1885-1995

Author: Mambu ma Khenzu, Edouard
This monograph addresses the modern history of money and finance in the region of the current Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1885 to 1995. The study starts by exploring a series of devices which served as money in the ancient Kingdom of Congo (13th-17th centuries), explaining the significance and limits of the monetary function of such devices in traditional communities accustomed to barter-based mechanisms of exchange. Secondly, monetary and financial provisions set up for the Congo Free State (1885-1908), and the main strands of King Leopold II’s financial policy for the Congo are examined. Thirdly, the study explores the colonial period (1908-1960), revealing the biased approach of the Belgian colonial power to Congolese monetary and financial issues. Finally, an examination of the monetary and financial dimension of major political events and unrest that have occurred in the Congo since 1960 is offered, focusing particularly on the political background of the Congolese monetary collapse of the early 1990s, marked by phases of hyperinflation, which resulted in an increased dollarisation of the economy.


“Dr. Edouard Mambu ma Khenzu’s book offers an authoritative account of developments in Congo, not only in recent times, but also during colonial and pre-colonial times. Dr. Mambu ma Khenzu takes the reader on a pleasant journey through the middle ages, colonial times and then on to the emergence of smaller states in the territories of today’s Congo (formerly known as Zaire), and the mediums of exchange used. Different types of shells occupy an important position in the history of the medium of exchange, although Dr. Mambu ma Khenzu would say 'money' … The book is very well written and, consequently, offers a very good read. Both experts in Congo (or West Africa) and members of the general public will find this book interesting, informative and easy-to-read. The extensive list of consulted references is another of the book’s strengths, as it provides an exhaustive list of references relevant to the study of Congo.” – (from the Preface) Professor Željko Ševi?, University of Greenwich Business School

“This work is a timely and well-researched book. Readers interested in understanding the economic and financial problems of the modern day Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular, and developing countries, in general, will find this book a valuable addition to their libraries.” – Dr. Kenneth K. Mwenda, World Bank

" ... written by a former top banking system and government official of the Democratic Republic of Congo, [this work] provides a fascinating account of the evolution of money in the Congo from the stability of the seashell currency of the ancient Kingdom of the Congo… to the instability of the banking collapses just prior to the collapse of the Mobutu regime in 1997... "– Professor Mervyn K. Lewis, University of South Australia

Table of Contents

List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations
Preface by Professor Željko Ševi?
1. Introduction
2. Traditional Money and Exchange Mechanisms in Pre-Colonial Congo (15th – 19th Century)
3. Money and Finance in the Congo Free State (1885-1908)
4. Money and Finance in Belgian Congo (1908-1960)
5. Money and Finance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1960-1995)
6. Summary and Concluding Remarks