The Congo River embodies an immense amount of energy – enough to supply a significant portion of Africa’s electricity requirements. The river is being touted as a perpetual source of clean, green power that could “light up Africa” and solve many of the continent’s problems.
But if its power is harnessed, who will benefit – the DRC’s millions of poor or a wealthy regional and international elite?
Civil society organisations are worried that ordinary Congolese, only 6% of whom have access to electricity, will remain in the dark, while their river’s power is transmitted to mines and industrial facilities in South Africa, elsewhere in Africa or even Europe, or to power-hungry installations such as a massive aluminium smelter proposed for the coast by BHP Billiton.