The Congo National Committee aims to promote sustainable energy development in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as a part of the World Energy Council’s energy vision. As a member of the World Energy Council network, the organisation is committed to representing the Congolese perspective within national, regional and global energy debates. The committee includes a variety of members to ensure that the diverse energy interests of Congo are appropriately represented. Members of the committee are invited to attend high-level events, participate in energy-focused study groups, contribute to technical research and be a part of the global energy dialogue.
Energy in Congo (Democratic Republic of)
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is endowed with varied energy resources, the most important of which is hydroelectricity, with a potential estimated at 100GW. To date, on a small proportion of this huge potential has been exploited (2.5%). This is the reason why the access rate of 80 million Congolese to electricity does not exceed 16%.
The combination of a rapidly increasing demography and an ever-increasing demand for energy from the mining industry gives rise to the current energy deficit, with the country moving from an exporter to a net importer of power.
Efforts are being made by the government to increase the supply of renewable energy, mainly through the construction of new power plants and, to a lesser extent, solar photovoltaic plants. However, this program has been plagued for two decades by repeated wars and political instability. A palliative solution aimed at reducing the demand by promoting energy efficiency has started to be implemented. The more rational use of available energy, the use of energy-saving lamps and the placement of prepaid meters for domestic consumers have contributed, although only slightly, to mitigating the sharp increase in energy demand.
Faced with the need to accelerate people's access to electricity, new operators have been created alongside SNEL, the power utility of DRC, thanks to the promulgation, in 2014, of the law on the electricity sector, which enshrines the liberalisation of the sector. A regulatory body has been established to ensure the success of this reform.
This law also proclaims the practice of cost-effective tariffs, which does not always make the resulting energy tariffs affordable, given the still low purchasing power of a large part of the population.
It is important to note the fragility of DRC, which shows organisational weaknesses when confronted with natural disasters or other external attacks. For example, the country has recorded a drastic drop in rainfall in recent years as a result of climate change, which has resulted in a seasonal drop in the volume of water necessary for full operation of certain hydro-power plants, and therefore a contraction of the energy supply. Likewise, the Covid-19 pandemic has generated many uncertainties, justifying the slowdown in the execution of many projects in the power sector.
Regarding future prospects, the DRC government is relying on the inauguration of the Grand Inga hydroelectric project (44 GW), which will commence with the installation of 11.05 GW in the first phase – Inga 3 project. Inga 3 is designed to reduce the current energy deficit and meet, domestic and industrial demand in the medium term, both at a local and regional level. Agreements have already been concluded with both the developer appointed to deliver the project and external customers, including the government of South Africa. The government of DRC plans to combine the realisation of this megaproject with the installation of an industrial chain of hydrogen production.