I was asked in a comment to compare Pointe-Noire to some US city/neighborhood. I could even break it down to individual aspects if it would help with better comparisons. I don’t think I have seen enough of the United States to find a good comparison to most aspects of this city. Or that’s just my polite way of saying I don’t think there is anywhere in the US that is this poorly developed. You’re not going to find a half-million person city in the US with infrastructure like this. You’d be hard pressed to find a half-thousand person rural town in the US with infrastructure like Pointe-Noire. I think sewage is ok, though it all likely goes into the ocean untreated, but there are occasional power outages, water quality is suspect, food hygiene issues, telephones seem ok, but mobile service seems like it might be over-capacity, internet is less available, and air quality is middling with what I assume are zero emission controls for cars and industry.
As I said before, it’s not a bad city in the sense that it is better than expected. It’s just, as a whole, a still developing (I hope) city. One person who has been here about a year told me he has seen significant improvement in the city in the past year so I certainly appreciate not having been here a year ago. There is construction all over the place, children go to school, and while people are poor-ish (not really sure how poor), food appears to be available.
Part of my inability to really assess to the city is the insular world I live in. I’m at work. I’m at home. I’m out with co-workers. But it’s all an expat world. I’ve seen and been to a couple uniquely local things and I’ll discuss them at some future date, but the vast majority of my time is spent working, sleeping, or eating in an environment that could be transported to many other places. Except for the beach. It’s pretty sweet to eat fresh calamari and crab on the beach just 50m from the water.