Democratic Republic of the Congo Road Network

By | November 27, 2022

The main national routes of Congo. Most of these roads are unpaved or even non-existent.

According to wholevehicles, Congo has by far the least developed road network in the world. 92 million inhabitants have to make do with only 2,250 kilometers of paved road. The road network is officially approximately 150,000 kilometers long, almost completely unpaved. Large parts of the country are inaccessible by road, and most national routes are just dirt roads that are often impassable. Private traffic is virtually non-existent outside the major cities. In the east, private traffic in the cities is also scarce. The existing infrastructure was mainly built during the Belgian Congo period. Wear and tear from lack of maintenance, weather and conflict have left little of the road network. The road network also relies heavily on bridges spanning the Congo River’s numerous tributaries, which are often collapsed or in poor condition.

The main paved road connection runs from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi, which is being paved with Chinese help. Large parts of this route are still unpaved. In the east and north there are almost no paved roads outside the larger cities. The national routes are no more than dirt roads that are impassable in the rainy season. There are no railway alternatives, only a functioning railway line runs between Matadi and Kinshasa. There are also railway lines elsewhere, but they are often not operational, or only run for freight without a timetable. Much transport goes through the Congo River and its tributaries. There are no bridges over the Congo River, not even at Kinshasa, which is opposite the city of Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo. There are, however, proposals for a 4 kilometer long road/rail bridge over the Congo. There are also no bridges to the Central African Republic.

In the DR Congo there are no motorways, or anything similar. There are, however, multi-lane roads in the capital Kinshasa, which are being widened with Chinese help, sometimes to 2×4 lanes. Although car ownership in Kinshasa is very low, in numerical numbers it is still quite a lot of vehicles, because the city has more than 10 million inhabitants. It is often difficult to get fuel in the DRC, especially in the north and east of the country. There are many accidents involving tankers, often resulting in dozens of deaths as the local population tries to drain fuel.

Road numbering

The road network is divided into national routes and regional routes, with the prefix N and R respectively.

National Routes

The N1 to N9 are the main routes, and two-digit N roads run clockwise from the coast through the country. The numbers run into the N-4x

Routes

  • N1 Banana – Matadi – Kinshasa – Kikwit – Kananga – Mbuji-Mayi – Lubumbashi – Kasumbalesa 2,980 km
  • N2 Mbuji-Mayi – Bukavu – Goma – Beni 1,560 km
  • N3 Bukavu – Kisangani 640 km
  • N4 Isango – Beni – Kisangani – Ndu 1,610 km
  • N5 Bukavu – Kalemie – Lubumbashi 1,410 km
  • N6 Dulia – Libenge 850 km
  • N7 Kananga – Kisangani 1,310 km
  • N8 Yayama – Mbandaka 880 km
  • N9 Masi-Manimba – Bagata 210 km
Route Nationales in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
N1 • N2 • N3 • N4 • N5 • N6 • N7 • N8 • N9

Regional routes

The regional routes are zoned by province, and have the first digit of the province, for example 3 for Equateur and 5 for Kivu. There are 8 zones. They have three digits, and therefore regional route numbers only occur once in the country.

Zones

  • 1 Bass Congo
  • 2 Bandundu
  • 3 Equateur
  • 4 Haut Congo
  • 5 Kivu
  • 6 Shaba
  • 7 Kasai Occidental
  • 8 Kasai Oriental

Signage

Signage is virtually non-existent in the DR Congo, including along the main roads.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Road Network