Power Africa in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Speeches Shim



The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the 11th largest country in the world, with a land mass equal to that of the United States east of the Mississippi. The population is 85 million, of which 12 million people live in the capital Kinshasa. GDP in 2015 was estimated at $41.44 billion. The DRC has one of the lowest rates of electrification in the world. Based on 2013 data, DRC’s national electrification access rate was just 9%, with 1% in rural areas and 19% in urban areas. The DRC is endowed with large mineral resources and has a potential to install up to 100,000 MW of hydropower capacity.


Installed Capacity: 2,677 MW

  • Hydroelectric: 2,542 MW

  • Thermal: 135 MW

Power Africa New MW to Date

  • Reached Financial Close: 0 MW

PA 2030 Pipeline: 5,000 MW


Current Access Rate: 9%

  • Rural: 1% Urban: 19%

Households without Power: 15 million

  • Target: Universal Access by 2050

Power Africa Connections: 386,126


Biggest Issues and Bottlenecks

  1. Governance
  2. Electric utility performance
  3. Absence of regulatory agency
  4. Absence of Rural Electrification Agency
  5. High taxes, VAT, and import duties

Power Africa Interventions

  1. Establishment of autonomous regulatory agency (ARE)
  2. Establishment of rural electrification agency (ANSER)
  3. Support on generation, transmission, and distribution concessions to attract private capital
  4. Support to mini-grid investments as well as solar home systems



Power Africa is assisting the Government of the DRC (GDRC) to implement the 2014 Electricity Code by supporting the establishment, training, and operation of two new GDRC agencies: ARE, which will be the autonomous regulatory agency; and ANSER, which will be responsible for rural electrification throughout the DRC’s  vast territory. The strengthened legal and regulatory framework will attract both private and public capital to investment opportunities in the power sector.


Power Africa has prepared a study of options for expanding grid access in Kwilu, Kasai, Kasai Central, and Kasai Oriental provinces. In 2018, Power Africa prepared a study that details four mini-grids in North and South Kivu provinces. Power Africa plans to partner with private sector investors such as mines to bring the mini-grids into operation. Power Africa is supporting a number of SHS companies that are now moving into the DRC market, especially in the eastern DRC (North and South Kivu). In addition, Power Africa will continue its work on rural electrification with provincial authorities in North and South Kivu, and potentially other provinces, to expand private sector investment using the concession model.


In 2011, the China EXIM Bank and Sinohydro Corp signed a $360 million agreement to build a hydroelectric plant (Zongo III) at Zongo in Bas‐Congo province. The 120 MW project is complete and was expected to come online in 2017. A 10.5 MW hydropower project at Kakobola in the province of Kwilu is one of two power projects financed by Exim Bank of India and the GDRC. The power plant is being executed for a total cost of $57.4 million, of which $42 million is funded by Government of India (GOI) and $15.4 million is funded by Government of DRC. A second plant being built with Indian assistance is located in Katende in the Kasai (Occidental) province. This 64 MW HPP, which is 50‐60% complete, is being built for a total cost of $280 million, of which $250 million is funded by GOI through its Exim Bank and $30 million is funded by GDRC.

The Virunga region in North Kivu has eight potential hydropower sites with an estimated potential of 100 MW. Two of these projects (13.8 MW Matebe and 0.38 MW Mtwanga) are currently operational, thanks to generous assistance from the Howard G Buffet Foundation. The smaller Mtwanga plant supplies power to a local soap factory and supports 400 jobs. A third site at Lubero is being developed with a hydroelectric capacity of 12.8 MW. These projects belong to Virunga Sarl, a company that constructs and operates hydro plants and distribution systems in the Virunga National Park area. The company offers incentive schemes for commercial/industrial (medium voltage) and residential (low voltage) customers. The scheme involves a lump‐sum payment for the first year ($292 for medium voltage and $223 for low voltage) and a consumption-based tariff for subsequent years (20.26 cents/kWh for medium and 21.50 cents/kWh for low voltage customers). By early 2018, Virunga had around 4,300 customers. Power Africa is working with Virunga to expand its network into the Nyirigonga district of Goma, which has up to 20,000 households without power.