Democratic Republic of Congo - Largest hydropower potential in Africa

Extremely rich in natural resources, the Democratic Re­public of Congo is the second largest country in Africa by area and the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa.

After the peace accords in 2003, the government is implementing reforms and opening the country to international investors and companies and the country’s economy is slowly recovering. The Congo River system dominates the region; its river basin occupies nearly the entire equatorial country collecting water from an area of nearly 3,700,000 km2 (1,400,000 sq mi), an area larger than the whole of India.

Congo river area surrounding HPP Inga 1 and HPP Inga 2

The Congo has the second-largest flow and the second-largest watershed of any river in the world, trailing the Amazon in both respects.
Since the end of World War II, some 100 medium-sized hydropower plants from 10 MW to 80 MW have been built throughout the country. There are only 16 dams in operation as of today, 12 owned by SNEL, the national utility. Only four are privately owned. The new framework for liberalization of the electricity sector could contribute to government plans to increase electricity access rate of the population in the coming years.
The DR Congo has the largest hydropower potential in Africa and one of the largest worldwide, with a technically feasible potential of some 100,000 MW. Only about 2.5% of this potential has been developed so far. More than 5,000 MW are in planning, including hydropower plants such as HPP Inga 3 (4,230 MW), HPP Luapula (900 MW), HPP Ruzizi 3 (147 MW) or HPP Nzilo 2 (120 MW) and HPP Busanga (240 MW).

HPP Inga 2

HPP Inga 2, with 1,424 MW one of the largest hydropower plants in Africa, is situated close to the mouth of the Congo River about 300 km downstream of the capital Kinshasa. Built in the 1970s, with its eight 178 MW turbine units HPP Inga 2 will be a significant part of the further planned extensions of the Grand Inga scheme.

In 2012, ANDRITZ HYDRO was awarded a contract by the government to rehabilitate two units (unit#21 and #22) under World Bank financing. Contractual scope included repair and overhaul of the penstocks, hydraulic steelworks and the Francis turbines. Operations are expected to resume in 2017.

ANDRITZ HYDRO followed this in 2013, when it was awarded another contract to rehabilitate a further two units (unit#27 and #28). The project was financed by the Kamoto Copper Company (KCC), the local mining affiliate of Glencore. Scope of supply covers the complete replacement of the intake trash racks, speed governors, a rehabilitation of hydro-mechanical equipment and repair of the two penstocks. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019.

Penstock HPP Inga 2

HPP Koni

The Koni hydropower station, owned by SNEL (Société Nationale d'Électricité) is located in Kantanga Province. It has a total installed capacity of 42 MW and is equipped with three vertical Francis turbines. This project is supported by the private mining and funding partner ENRC PLC.

After being in operation for almost 60 years, the existing turbines, originally supplied by ANDRITZ HYDRO, reached the end of their lifetime and units #1 and #3 had to be put out of operation in 2010. ANDRITZ HYDRO received a contract for the replacement of the defective butterfly inlet valves in 2012. Unit #1 was successfully reconnected to the grid in 2015. On dismantling unit #3 it was discovered that more extensive repair work was necessary. ANDRITZ HYDRO is currently in charge of the rehabilitation of unit #3. Commissioning is planned for summer 2017.

HPP Koni


Population: 77.27 Mio.
Access to electricity 18 %
Installed hydro capacity 2,600 MW
Hydro capacity under construction 223 MW
Share of generation from hydropower 99 %
Hydro generation 8,185 GWh
Technically feasible hydro generation potential      100,000 GWh
Installed capacity   1,130 MW
Installed units 56
Fleet share 43.45 %
The World Bank, IEA, World Energy Outlook, Hydropower & Dams World Atlas 2016

 Author: Manuel Tricard

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