The Kongo empire was an ancient State comprising Angola, both Congos and Gabon. , this article discusses a brief overview of its economy.


The coin was made from shells collected by women on the island of Luanda and used only by the state. The harvest was monitored and numbered by royal officials and carried out under the direction of Mani Luanda, the governor of the island, who was also responsible for the shipment to the capital, Mbanza Congo. The currency was called Nzimbu, more precisely Nzimbu Kitombé and Nzimbu a Mbundi. Nzimbu made it easier for local governors to exchange and collect tolls through the central government. It allowed regulation of public spending.
Loango, an ancient city of the Congo Empire, is located in what is now Congo Brazzaville. A reproduction of the 17th century Dutch historian Olfert Daper from authentic descriptions


A specialized administration is responsible for booking and accounting the revenue of the central administration. Three agencies were taxed. They were the Mfutilas, the Mani Mpanzas and the Mani Sambas. The Mani Sambas were responsible for collecting tolls and taxes on goods

Iron ore was abundant in the kingdom and bloomed on the surface of the ground in the form of iron stones. Many ironworks were built on the hills near Mbanza Congo. They produced weapons that were necessary for the defense of the empire and its territorial expansion.


BaKongos have been described as arborists and skilled farmers. Different types of millet and sorghum were grown, bananas and a dozen yams. The abundance and diversity was such that “they grow 12 types of food plants, each of which ripens in a given month to receive fresh food all year round”. It was also bred. There were oxen, sheep, goats, pigs and birds from the poultry garden and they also produced household tools, axes and hoes for the rational exploitation of land and forests. Copper was also processed, especially in today’s Congo-Brazza.


Imagination is forever drawn to the stories of the explorers, which the German historian Leo Frobenius restored. He described the people of the Congo as one people, “dressed in silk and velvet, civilized to bone marrow”. Several palm trees were methodologically cultivated for the textile industry. High quality fabrics were made from its fibers. Brocade was called Incorimba. The velvet was called Enzaca, the ladies were called Infulas, the satin wallpaper, the taffeta thong, the “Armoisins” Engombos.
Nzinga Mbemba (Afonso I), Emperor of the Congo. Illustration by Carl Owens

Loango, ancient city of the Kongo Empire, located in the current Congo Brazzaville. Reproduced by Dutch historian Olfert Dapper in the 17th century according to authentic descriptions.

The market

Named Nzandu, the market was the ideal place to trade. In Mbanza, Congo was the main center for exchange, redistribution and referee of fashion. The BaKongo should “have good judgment, especially for trade”. G. Balandier said: “baKongo has given the market institution exceptional interest … this network of connections is an exceptional phenomenon.”

Although admirable by its level of organization, ievolution and its sophistication, the economy was destroyed by the Portuguese attacks during the slave raids.

Notes :

Theory of the African Revolution, Volume 1: rethinking the African crisis; Jean Pierre Kaya
History of black Africa, Joseph Ki-Zerbo
[1] Theory of the African revolution, Volume 1: rethinking the African crisis; Jean Pierre Kaya, page 107
[2] Same, page 112
[3] Negro Nations and Culture, Cheikh Anta Diop, page 343


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