Hydropower in DRC

History of energy in DRC

During the colonial time the electricity sector was private and linked to the mining and agriculture industry, and for the development of manufacture industry and administration. In 1907 the colonial administration sent the Swiss engineers Pfeiffer and Hofmann to register Katanga's hydroelectric resources which was practically untouched.
The first hydroelectric power station was built in 1923 in Lubudi in the Katanga province by Katanga Cement to produce electricity to their plant. In 1924 a power station was built for the Kilo Moto Gold Mines in the far northeast corner of DRC. In 1930 Mwadingusha power station came into production for the Katanga Mining Union and in 1932 Central Sanga in Katanga.
Ten years after independence in 1960, the National Electricity Company (SNEL) was established in 1970. In the beginning SNEL was responsible for the construction of the Inga Dam in the west of Congo and it’s transmission lines. Another major obligation was also to administrate six former colonial power plant at this time nationalised.

Standard Post with Image

Mwadingusha power station

Standard Post with Image

Inga Dams

SNEL

Historically, the energy sector in the DRC has been dominated by the Société Nationale d’Électricité (SNEL) - the state-owned utility that holds the mandate for electricity generation, transmission, distribution and power trading. The SNEL controls the 17 main hydro power plants with a total rated capacity of just 2,410 megawatts, the largest of which are at Inga. But just half of the capacity is currently utilised: as investment in infrastructure has fallen over the past few decades, electricity production has declined as ever more facilities have fallen into disrepair. As a minor contributor in addition to the SNEL monopoly you also find many small scale private hydro’s transmitted by private sector led mini-grids.

Standard Post with Image
DRC flag

Electricity Law of 2014

The Congolese government addressed the shortcomings by instituting reforms to the regulation and management of the domestic energy sector. The new Electricity Law of 2014 brought the SNEL’s monopoly to an end, and for the first time gave private companies a chance to participate in generating, distributing and selling the country’s energy. To increase access to energy in rural areas and secondary cities, a National Electrification Agency and a National Electrification Fund have been created. This strengthened legal and regulatory framework are done to attract both private and public capital to investment opportunities in the power sector. The SNEL is currently working in partnership, through a PPP approach, with so far mostly mining companies to regenerate existing infrastructure and to build the energy production facilities that the DRC needs to realise its economic and social potential.

INGA

The highest levels of African government have been pushing for the expansion of Inga for some time. As far back as 1999, in an address to the Organisation of African Unity, Thabo Mbeki, then president of South Africa, argued for the centrality of the Inga Falls’ redevelopment to the project of improving the entire continent’s economic infrastructure. The Congolese Agency for the Development and promotion of the Inga site is approaching conclusion of Inga 3 - the first phase of the Grand Inga Expansion Project - which has a projected output of 4,800 megawatts. In June 2018 Bruni Kapendji, director of the Agency said that the output now will be 11 000 MW and it is predicted to cost $13.9 billion, intended construction date will be 2019. A group of Chinese and a Spanish investors have submitted a joint bid.

Standard Post with Image

Inga Dams

Standard Post with Image

Inga 2