UNESCO City of Music

since 2015

About the Creative City: 

Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), bears witness to a rich music history. With 10 million inhabitants, it is a city of great cultural diversity and considered as the cradle of Congolese rumba, a popular genre of dance music shaped by many international influences. Music is to Kinshasa a shared social practice and a key enabler of intercultural dialogue and social cohesion. In addition, the city is home to multiple recording studios including the Olympia, Ngoma and Loningisa, where pioneer musicians and bands such as African Jazz and Ok Jazz made their debuts as part of Congolese rumba’s second wave movement.

A range of festivals highlighting the vitality of the music sector, such as the International Stars Festival, the Jazz Kif Festival and the Pan African Music Festival, are organised each year in cooperation with Brazzaville Creative City of Music. Kinshasa is also home to the National Institution of Arts (INA), being the only Central African city to host an internationally renowned institution of higher arts education, providing training to performance artists and musicians. Since opening, the INA has notably implemented several successful exchange programmes with other African and European cities.

With music being the foundation of local and national civic identity, the city is devoted to strengthening the capacities of various stakeholders in the music industry and to increase direct and indirect job opportunities in the sector. By focusing on integrating culture into all levels of development programmes and by supporting the emergence of cultural and creative industries, the city continues to develop and grow its creative sector. Kinshasa is also committed to reinforcing the protection and wide access to cultural goods and services to move along a sustainable urban development path. 

As a Creative City of Music, Kinshasa envisages:

  • conducting an evaluative and future-oriented study on the local music industry, at various levels of the value chain, to better focus the city’s strategies and development plans;
  • implementing the Strategic Direction and Planning of Kinshasa aimed at establishing a creative hub dedicated to music, as well as recreational areas;
  • positioning the city as a national and international reference in the music sector;
  • strengthening capacities and offering more job opportunities, especially for young people and women; and
  • organizing joint music events with other Creative Cities to foster exchange of knowledge and the mobility of artists.



Lyon El G. Nsele
Socio-cultural Advisor
City of Kinshasa

Facts and Figures

Kinshasa is the capital and the largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is situated on the Congo River. Once a site of fishing and trading villages, Kinshasa is now a megacity with an estimated population of more than 11 million. It faces Brazzaville, the capital of the neighbouring Republic of the Congo, which can be seen in the distance across the wide Congo River, making them the two closest capital cities on Earth after Rome and the Vatican City. The city of Kinshasa is also one of the DRC’s 26 provinces.


9,965 km2 (3,848 sq mi)