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Country Profile of Conventional and Renewable Energies: Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Last updated on 13/09/06

Prepared by Maria-Evangelia Kaninia Intern from August to …, 2006 For the Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistics Division Energy Statistics Section United Nations, New York


1 Executive summary
The economy of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been crippled because of decades of warfare. The result of this is a heavily underdeveloped energy sector. In a country of more than 60 million people, less than 7% have access to electricity, which results in approximately 95% of the final energy needs being covered through consumption of fuelwood or other biomass. The most important asset of the country in terms of energy is the hydromechanical energy of the River Congo. The total potential of the country amounts to 100 GW. A particular characteristic is that about half of it is concentrated at the Inga site. So far, only two generating plants (Inga I and II) are active, but several projects are under consideration. Inga III, the first stage of expansion, has already secured funding. The project is supposed to culminate as “Grand Inga”, with a total capacity of about 40 GW, which, combined with an extensive interconnection grid, will transmit energy to many African countries, promoting the industrialization of the continent.


2 Introduction and Overview
2.1 Brief Country Facts (source: [CIA])
2.1.1 Geographical data
Location: Central Africa, northeast of Angola Surface area: 2,345,410 sq km, approximately 8% of the entire surface of Africa Terrain / topography: vast central basin is a low-lying plateau; mountains in east Climate: diverse – tropical in equatorial river basin, cooler in highlands, two distinct seasons (dry and wet) in either side of the equator



2.1.2 Population
Total population: about 63 million (demographics intensely distorted because of the high AIDS-related mortality ) Growth rate: as of July 2006, estimated at 3.1%


Figure 1 Map of Congo (DR) [CIA] Major political instability has characterized the country throughout its history since independence in 1960. A dictatorship sustained by force for 32 years was ended in 1997 by civil war and a massive inflow of refugees from neighbouring fighting Rwanda and Burundi (1994). The regime that was established under Laurent Kabila got challenged (1998) by an insurrection backed by external forces (Rwanda and Uganda), while a coalition formed by Angola, Chad, Namibia, Sudan and Zimbabwe intervened to support it. A cease-fire was reached in July 1999, to be followed by the assassination of Kabila in January 2001 and his succession by his son Joseph. The Pretoria Accord, an all-inclusive power sharing agreement, was signed in December 2002 (and ratified by all parties in April 2003). It ended the fighting and established a government of national unity under president Kabila with a mandate to prepare the country for democratically held elections. Following negotiations and a successful constitutional referendum (December 2005) a series of elections is currently being held (run-off election for the presidency is to be held in October 2006) in order to determine political power.

2.1.3 Political situation (see also [STA])

2.1.4 Economical situation
The economy of the (endowed with significant still unexploited wealth) country - has declined drastically since the mid-1980s. The civil war, which began in August 1998, dramatically worsened the situation. Namely, it decreased national output and government revenue, increased external debt, and resulted in the deaths of perhaps 3.5 million people from violence, famine, and disease. Foreign investment was curtailed, as well as already operating businesses. Conditions


improved in late 2002 as the pacification process led to the Pretoria Accord and reforms backed by international agents have begun being implemented (credit was approved by the World Bank and the IMF, and the country was judged eligible for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC); see [IMFa]). Economic stability improved in 2003-05, although currently an amount of economic activity lies outside the GDP data and there is corruption and no certain legal framework. In 2005 renewed activity in the mining sector boosted Kinshasa's fiscal position and GDP growth, while business and economic prospects are expected to improve once the current elections produce a stable government. Vital statistics (2005 estimation, [CIA])
GDP (PPP): $40.7 billion; [WEO] reports $46.5 billion GDP growth rate: 6.5%; 9.3% according to [WEO], projected to remain steady for 2006-7 GDP (PPP) per capita: $650; $740 according to [WEO] Inflation rate (consumer prices): 9% Main exports: products of the mining industry (diamonds, copper, crude oil, cobalt ) and coffee (recipients for which are, by order of magnitude: Belgium (37.8%), US (17.8%), China (11.6%), Finland, France, Chile) Main imports: practically all commodities, including foodstuff, machinery, transport equipment, fuels (main importers: South Africa (17.1%), Belgium (15.7%), France (9%), Zambia (8.4%), Kenya (5.9%), Germany, US, Cote d'Ivoire)


2.2 Overview of the Energy Sector1
The abundance of forests, the fact that the vast majority of the population is not urbanized and the precarious situation during the war mean that about 95% of the energy needs is covered by fuelwood or charcoal (90% of the indigenous energy production and 95% of the final energy consumption (according to [IEA]; see Table 1) is classified as “combustible renewable and waste”). However, the country has reserves of all kinds of commercial energy carriers (including uranium), as well as renewable energy potential (mostly hydromechanical, but also solar and geothermal) that remain to be exploited as soon as the political situation is stabilized.

2.2.1 Sector Organization
As mentioned in [SADC], the ministry of Energy is in charge of the entire sector (apart from biomass, which is included in the jurisdiction of the ministry of Environment). The legal framework is not reliable. An all-inclusive code regulating foreign investment in the country exists since 1986, but does not address the issue of investments in the energy sector in particular. However, [STA] reports that in 2005 “the Congolese Government approved a new investment code and a new mining code…”

2.2.2 Production, trade and consumption of commercial energy
2004,IEA combustible renewable and waste 15310 1 -125 587 -587 15310 -702 -124 319

ktoe Inland Production Imports Exports TPES Transformation Processes

coal 65 173

crude oil 1040

oil products 555

hydro 587


-1040 238 -37

-5 548 23


See [SADC].


TFC Industry sector Transport Residential Other electricity generated in GWh

201 132

571 285

14608 3087

194 96 96 2


7 248



Table 1 Simplified energy balance table for 2004, source: [IEA] Oil
The output of the onshore fields (see Figure 3) acquired in 2000 and operated since then by Perenco2 totals 25,000 bbl/d (see [IEA] and [PER]) – this output only amounts to 1.35% of the total output of the SADC countries. The entire production is exported. The domestic demand for oil products (less than half of the equivalent in energy content of the production) is covered through importations because of lack of refining capacity. As an example of further development, [TUL] details the stakes recently acquired by TullowOil in prospective fields. A production sharing agreement was signed in July 2006 for the exploration of blocks lying along the border to Uganda. Sector Organization

In 2004, the national oil company, Société Nationale des Petroles du Congo (SNPC)3, was reorganized to become a holding company. Gas
No gas is currently produced, and the proved reserves are negligible. Coal
In 2003, the country produced 88m metric tons of coal ([EIA]), which is negligible in comparison to the country’s energy needs. The inland production is supplemented with importations and used mainly in the industrial but also in the residential sector. Electricity; The dominant sector
As of 2003 ([EIA]), the installed generating capacity was estimated at 2,568 MW (of which only 600-700 MW are actually functioning)4. According to [IEA], 6830 GWh were generated, or 110 kWh per capita. Since approximately 20% was exported, the per capita inland consumption of electricity is just 90 kWh, which allows predicting a rise in inland demand in the future as the economy recovers from war.

Perenco is also the holder of the offshore concession and the terminal and is bound to undertake further exploration (see [PER]). 3 The website for SNPC describes its mission as “…representing the state in contractual relationships with foreign partners…” and “controlling the entire chain of oil activities”. 4 MagIndustries of Canada (see [MAG]) has undertaken - through its subsidiary MagEnergy and in cooperation with SNEL - the rehabilitation of Inga I and II, with a view to exporting electricity to neighbouring Republic of Congo where the industrial demand is high. In May 2005 an agreement was signed under the auspices of the international financial community for the rehabilitation of the turbines at Inga II. The state-run Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa will also partake in the project, as is detailed in [MAG]. It is clear that South Africa has interest in the completion of a project that enhances its own supply of electricity through the SAPP grid.



Except for a very small thermal capacity (in the range of perhaps 50MW), the rest of the generating plants are hydroelectric. With a nominal installed capacity of approximately 1700 MW (67% of the total nominal capacity as of 2003) and huge further potential, the Inga site (located in the western part of the country in Bas-Congo) has a preeminent role. The plants already built at Inga are briefly presented in Table 2. Their technical characteristics are detailed in [INGA00]. SNEL, the national electrical utility, has two main networks, the Western network in the south west of the country (which also supplies the capital) and the Southern network in the south east, both supplied with power from hydropower sources. Most of the Western network hydropower stations are located at the Inga site. However, the grid only serves a small percentage of the terrain and population; therefore leaving 93% of the population without access to electricity (see 2.2.3). nominal actual number of capacity per commissioned capacity capacity turbines turbine in (MW) (MW) Inga I 312 6 52 na 1972 Inga II 1424 8 178 na (<720) 1982 Table 2 Existing generating plants at Inga site The generating facilities at the Inga site (a conveniently arrayed series of waterfalls located approximately 250 km downstream from the capital and 150 km upstream from the mouth of the river), namely Inga I and Inga II, provide, although malfunctioning, electricity for domestic consumption and exportation. [UNa] reports that the electricity generated by the hydro plants in 2003 was about 6200 million KWh, which means that the rate of utilization for the hydro plants is less than 30%. Taking into consideration that the flow of the Congo River is steady year-round (main distinguishing feature), this is an important index of underexploited resources and capacity. The interconnections linking Congo DR to the recipients of its electricity (Figure 4) are detailed in [EIAa]5. Specifically, Congo DR supplies power to: o the neighbouring Republic of Congo through a 220KV connection, o Zimbabwe and South Africa, through a composite network: A 500kV DC6 line transmits energy from Inga to Kolwezi, close to the northern border of Zambia. From this point energy is relayed to a 220kV AC line into northern Zambia. This interconnection is operated by Copperbelt Energy of Zambia (whose focus is on providing electricity to the energy-intensive copper industry), in cooperation with the state-run SNEL of Congo, DR. The company site mentions that construction of a second line parallel to this one was about to begin in 2005 in order to increase the total line capacity to 500MW (from 210MW). Other possible expansions are mentioned in [EIAa]7, including a connection to Angola as part of the WESTCOR project (see With the country being in a transition phase, practically all possible expansions are being considered, including several large-scale projects, such as the Grand Inga, conceptualized at 40,000 MW together with a pan-African electricity grid (see Sector Organization

This source is however outdated; it mentions that Siemens of Germany is going to rehabilitate the two Inga plants, while the project is now undertaken by MagIndustries of Canada. 6 For long distances DC lines reduce the incurring losses. 7 The [EIA] report is not, however, up-to-date. Specifically, it mentions that the rehabilitation of Inga I was to be assigned to Siemens of Germany, while it is known that this deal is not valid any more.



SNEL, the state electricity company, is responsible for managing the generation of electricity and the transmission network and for representing the country’s interests within international projects. Its greatest asset is the ownership of the Inga hydroelectric facility and site. On the international level: Congo DR is (through the national electricity utility - SNEL) a member of the -founded in 1995- Southern African Power Pool (SAPP). The aim of the community is to work in solidarity in order to provide “reliable and economical electricity” ([SAPP]) to the consumers in each member country. This translates to equitably sharing the hydro potential of the region, with a focus on the outstanding exploitable capacity of Congo DR. Maps of the international interconnections of the area and their capacity limits are available at [SAPP]. A subset of the member countries of the SAPP has formed the WESTCOR (see According to this project, the Inga III plant will join forces with a plant in Angola in order to provide electrical power to Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. An important incentive towards the extension of the electricity generating capacity and network is to attract foreign investment in energy-intensive industries, namely mining. Maps and information about the financing for the project can be found in [SAPPb].

2.2.3 Household/Commercial Access to Electricity
According to [WRI], as of 2000, only 6.7% of the population had access to electricity, which is low even by African standards (the percentage for the entire Sub-Saharan Africa was 24.2%). A map detailing the transmission and distribution network of the country can be seen in [SAPPa].

2.3 Overview of Renewable Energy Sector
2.3.1 Situation of Renewable Energy
So far, the only RE resource that has been exploited (apart from biomass, which is a “staple” for African countries) is the hydromechanical energy accounting for 95% ([EIA]) of the electricity generated, or for 4% of the total inland primary resources. Taking into consideration the abundance of this form of energy, alternative renewable sources are only going to play a complementary role, focusing on areas difficult to incorporate in the (still underdeveloped) electricity grid. Biomass accounts for the vast majority of energy used in the country: 94% of the final energy consumption (as of 2004, [IEA]) is accounted for by biomass (including charcoal) use.

2.3.2 Legislative and institutional structure
In the international context, Congo DR is a member of the SADC, which has declared ([SADCb]) its intention to use energy (of which the community it is a net exporter) as a means towards growth and development in the region. The Grand Inga project and specifically the WESTCOR partnership (see is also officially endorsed by the UN as a “Partnership for Sustainable Development” (see [UNpsd]).

2.3.3 RE targets and commitments
No official commitment declaration has been found. However, the country has ratified8 the Kyoto Protocol. Although present emissions of greenhouse effect gases are low, and in any case not a primary concern for underdeveloped countries, the Kyoto associated mechanisms (and specifically the Clean Development Mechanism) are a potential way of financing sustainable energy related projects.

As can be seen in the Status of Ratification as published on


3 Analysis of Renewable Energy Sector9
3.1 Analysis of Different Types of Renewable Energy
3.1.1 Hydro Resource potential
The hydroelectric potential of the entire country is estimated ([EIA]) at 100,000 MW. However the General Director of SNEL is quoted in [MAG] providing an estimation of 50,000 MW just for the Inga site; other estimates scale the grandiose and still uncertain Grand Inga project down to 40,000MW; see [MAGrep]. The huge amount or hydromechanical energy available in Congo is differentiated in that it transcends national borders and would, when harnessed, suffice to cover the needs in electricity of a great part of the continent. Furthermore the river has a constant flow, due to crossing the Equator twice, ensuring a reliable power source. Because of the common stakes related to this project, the –few, because of the political and military instability of the country- extension projects are commonly a joint enterprise involving the state-run SNEL, the partner countries of the SAPP and third parties. The hydro potential of Congo DR is not restricted to the Inga site. A report ([SAPPa]) by an officer of the state-run electricity utility indicates six further sites (see Table 3). MW site Kamanyola 400 Wanie-Rukula 700 Wagenia 460 Busanga 240 Nzilo 2 120 Zongo 2 100 Table 3 Secondary sites with hydro-potential The report [SAPPa] also provides an estimate of the energy cost that will result from the expansion of Inga: $339-671/kW and $0.00108-0.00144/kWh. Based on these estimations and a reasonable prediction of electricity demand along the potential interconnections (see Figure 3), the report generates a series of expected revenues, assuming that the project is gradually realized. Achievements
The needs of the country in electricity are so far covered through the under functioning hydro plants. Also, Congo DR is a net exporter of electricity. Current projects / dynamics of development
The SAPP plays an important role in hydro projects within Congo DR, whose role within the community is critical. With a view to exploiting the hydroelectric potential of Congo DR to obtain common benefit, five of the countries of the community10, the present and planned interconnections of which are depicted in Figure 4, formed the Western Corridor Power Project (WESTCOR) in 2003 – launched officially in 2005. The first phase of the project11 includes the construction of a 3,500MW hydro plant at the site Inga III and the corresponding transmission A general assessment of the RE sector in Africa can be found in [RENAFR]. Namely: Angola, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and hosting Congo. 11 Grand Inga shall consist of a series of 52 turbines at 750MW, built incrementally ([IRNa]).
10 9


lines (about 3,000 km in length). Arguments as to the definition of the stakes of the projects have delayed the commencement of the project. However, as of January 2006, agreements concerning the funding of the feasibility studies had been achieved ([EIA]). Inga III, preliminary scheduled to come online by 2012 as reported in [MAG], is conceived by the joint venture of the governments forming WESTCOR as an intermediate stage towards the Grand Inga12 (see also 5). This internationalized project enhances the prospects of stability in the region and is an indicator of the exceptional significance of the Inga site. The presence of reliable partners, like ESKOM of South Africa (among the five largest energy utilities in the world), which is reported ([IRNb]) to “have thrown its weight behind the ambitious project” enhances the prospects of the project being realized. Major constraints
Political concerns: The realization of the Grand Inga is transgressing into politics, as is discussed in [IRNa], thus often environmental and social issues are overlooked. Determining the stakes in the enterprise is already delaying the realization of the first phase of Grand Inga (Inga III). Finding a universally acceptable formula for the involved parties (after actually determining who these shall be) will be a major obstacle. Factoring in the estimated cost for the project at $50 billion (exceeding the individual GDP of all the countries participating in the venture except for South Africa) and the notorious corruption and inefficiency of the public sector in the hosting country and several of its partners (see the reports of Transparency International at [TI05]), the difficulties are obviously augmented. NEPAD (New Partnership for African Development) has a major stake in the success of the project (see [NEPAD_UN]). The Partnership, often parallelized to a new “Marshall Plan” for Africa, acknowledges the need for energy in order to advance developmental goals. Concerns are though being expressed ([IRNa]) that industrial development will be prioritized to the detriment of the population. [IRNa] identifies potential dangers behind classifying the Grand Inga as a “sustainable energy” project. The argument is that the Grand Inga is on its own, financially viable. Therefore, if it is credited (for instance, through the Kyoto mechanisms) with any bonus credit, it will actually divert investment from other kinds of renewable energy, such as solar or geothermal. Geopolitically, the centralization of the electricity supply at Inga will render the entire continent vulnerable to attacks, especially taking into consideration the instability of the region (same source as above). Summary

3.1.2 Solar
According to the corresponding map published at [SOL], Congo DR is less well endowed for solar energy exploitation than its neighbouring countries. However, taking into consideration the high cost of electricity grid extension in the country (difficult terrain, large distances); smallscale distributed solar projects could be viable. However, no references to specific projects have been found.

3.1.3 Wind
According to a study realized by Hélimax Énergie ([HEL]) on behalf of the African Development Bank, Congo DR has no significant potential.

3.1.4 Geothermal
No reference to geothermal energy (projects under consideration or construction) has been found. However, several studies indicate that neighbouring Uganda has several prospective [SAPPa] contains key technical characteristics of the Grand Inga project according to a 1997 study. It also describes a potential interconnection to the north of Africa


sites along the border to Congo DR. Since the two countries share common geological features in the area which is not covered by the grid, geothermal energy could be a distant possibility.

3.1.5 Biomass
Figure 2 shows the evolution of biomass use since 1982. The fact that this percentage has been growing until 2002 (when, by the way, the peace agreement was signed) is indicative in the poor condition of the economy and, more specifically, of the insufficient reach of the electricity grid.
Combustible renew ables and w aste (% of total energy) (source: [WDI]) 96.0 94.0 92.0 90.0 88.0 86.0 84.0 82.0 80.0 78.0 76.0 74.0

19 84

19 88

19 94

20 00

Figure 2 Biomass and combustible waste (% of final energy use), source [WDI]
Total land area Forest area Fuelwood production thousand square km thousand square km million tonnes 2267.0 1352.0 36.5 59.6%

Table 4 Fuelwood data, retrieved from [WEC] [WEC] provides the following figures concerning sugar cane production and the associated potentially exploitable bagasse (the remaining burnable material after the extraction of sugar cane juice):
Cane sugar production Bagasse potential availability thousand tonnes 65 212

Table 5 Other residual biomass, retrieved from [WEC] A conservative calculation based on an assumption of 10MJ/kg of bagasse leads to a figure of about 50ktoe, which is not significant by itself. No indication that energy crops in general are being promoted has been found.

4 References / Sources
[CIA], CIA World Factbook, accessed on 01/09/06 [WEC] World Energy Council, Survey of Energy Resources, 2001, available online at, accessed on 19/09/06

20 04

19 82

19 98

19 86

19 90

19 92

19 96

20 02









World Bank o [WDI], database accessed on 19/09/06 International Monetary Fund o [IMFa], Republic of Congo Reaches Decision Point Under the Enhanced HIPC Debt Relief Initiative, Press Release No. 06/46 March 9, 2006, available online at, accessed on 16/09/06 [EIA]:, Energy Information Administration, Country Analysis Briefs, SADC, accessed on 05/09/06 o [EIAa], detailed description of the INGA hydroelectric facility and interconnection plans, published in 11/2002, accessed on 07/09/06 [WRI], World Resources Information, Earthtrends, Searchable Database, accessed on 05/09/06 [SOL], maps of solar power, accessed on 07/09/06 [INGA00], description of the Inga site and installed generators, accessed on 17/09/06 [INGA04] “Energie hydraulique des barrages d’Inga : Grands potentiels pour le développement de la République Démocratique du Congo et de l’Afrique”, available online at [UNpsd], overview of African Energy Legacy Projects, including the Grand Inga, updated in February 2006, accessed on 11/09/06 [IRNa], “Grand Inga, Grand Illusions?”, available at, published in April 2005, accessed on 11/09/06 [IRNb], “Eskom’s Expanding Empire…”, published in June 2003, available at, accessed on 11/09/06 [HEL] Strategic study of Wind Energy Deployment in Africa, published in March 2004, by Hélimax Énergie, available online at [PER], accessed on 07/09/06 [TUL], Congo (DRC) Operations and Licences, accessed on 08/09/06 [IEA] Energy Balances of non-OECD countries, 2003-2004 [SAPP], Southern African Power Pool, accessed on 09/09/06 o [SAPPa] “The Grand Inga Power Plant Project”, by the SNEL chief executive officer, available online at Grand Inga Project.pdf o [SAPPb] “The Westcor Power Corridor Project”, available online at Western Power Corridor Project.pdf [SAPP06] SAPP Annual Report 2006, available online at [SAPP] [IEE] “Light from the heart of darkness”, article in “Power Engineer”, August 2006 [NEPAD_UN] “Funding for NEPAD – Africa still waiting for…”, accessed on 11/09/06 online at [UNa] Energy Statistics Yearbook 2003, UN, ST/ESA/STAT/SER.J/47 [WEO] World Economic Outlook Database, April 2006, available online at, accessed on 17/09/06 [TI05] Corruption Perceptions index 2005, available online at, accessed on 17/09/06 [STA], State Department, Background, accessed on 15/09/06




[MAG], MagIndustries, description of activities in Congo DR, accessed on 09/09/06 o [MAGrep], “Kouilou to tap Inga power”, article published in “African Energy”, available online at, accessed on 10/09/06 SADC: Southern African Development Community o [SADCa], Energy Statistical Yearbook 2003 o [SADCb], Energy Protocol

5 Annex

Figure 3 Oil fields, retrieved from [PER]


Figure 4 The SAPP grid, map retrieved from [SAPP] (2004)


Figure 5 Interconnections under consideration supplied from Inga site (source: [SAPPa])