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Model colony

The dream colony of the ‘petits belges’ (Little Belgians)

The driving force for turning Congo into a model colony unleashed a real construction rage. The road network was largely expanded, entire (worker) villages were built and the land was fitted with modern medical facilities.

Education too was a domain in which the colonisers wanted to excel. In collaboration with the missions, one of the highest alphabetisation rates in Africa was obtained.

At scientific level, the fight against the sleeping sickness, caused by the tsetse fly, malaria and leprosy began. Doctors travelled from village to village in order to vaccinate people and to take care of sick persons. The mortality rate among children was reduced thanks to education centres for women. In the fields of tropic al medicine and agronomy, Belgium was a top-level global player.

The Congolese economy also enjoyed worldwide renown. Mining giants such as Union Minière du Haut Katanga, Forminière and Bécéka obtained high productivity rates and played in the same league as the big businesses.