DRC: Busanga becomes the first hydroelectric dam in Katanga thanks to SICOMINES SA
If it could be told, the story would say that there once was, in the heart of the country-continent called “Democratic Republic of Congo”, a hydroelectric power station which had been built 110 km from Kolwezi, capital of Lualaba, one of the four provinces forming the Grand Katanga considered as the mining lung of the country.
“This project is a support for the SICOMINES mining project resulting from the Collaboration Agreement between the DRC and China to build infrastructure for socio-economic development in the DRC. It is also the first major energy infrastructure project in the region of Grand Katanga in Congo (DRC) for more than 60 years ”, states the document entitled“ An Extra Fine Hydroelectric Project is achieved: A Winning Cooperation- Sino-Congolese winner ”…
BUSANGA, A MAJOR WORK
Until then, Grand Katanga had 4 major dams supplying firstly the mining industry and, secondly, the surrounding cities, in this case the urban, peri-urban and rural centers. They are Nseke, Nzilo, Mwadingusha and Koni. Nseke was built in 1957 with a production capacity of 260 MW, however reduced to 195 MW. Nzilo in 1952 with a production capacity of 100 MW, however reduced to 75 MW. Mwadingusha in 1930 with a production capacity of 71 MW to deliver only 24.
Koni in 1955 with a production capacity of 42 MW but only delivers 14. Also, although the latest arrival, the Busanga dam has the capacity of 240 MW in production and supply. What could be more normal than in its document, SICOMINES SA displays its pride and optimism by highlighting the fact that “the Busanga hydroelectric plant being large, the large Sino-Congolese joint venture SICOHYDRO SA actively assumes its social responsibilities and applies the concept of “consultation, co-construction, sharing and development coordinated together”, and this with the consequence of “promoting the modernization of regional industrial economic development”. This upstream.
Downstream, the Busanga dam aims to “promote the increase of local jobs”, especially since “the project has actively encouraged the management of localized employment, solved more than 3,000 jobs, trained operational skills, increased income levels and improved living conditions ”. But, the main thing for the local population is to see its environment improved: construction of a new village with public facilities such as a school, a hospital, roads, drinking water wells, etc. add special compensation funds that have completely changed the framework and living conditions of the inhabitants to be relocated.
The launch of this project now makes it possible, he informs, ” to effectively remedy the shortage of electricity at SICOMINES in phase II of its development and the surrounding area”.
The document in question underlines, moreover: ” Whether for the design, construction, manufacture of equipment, installation and acceptance of the entire chain, the project has fully exploited the technical advantages and experiences of the construction of infrastructure in China, can effectively promote the construction of infrastructure in Congo (DRC) and foster the coordinated development of the regional economy ”. And adds: “ The completion of the Busanga Hydroelectric Power Plant will surely become a model for the hydropower market and infrastructure in Africa, and will become an international model project for cooperation and common interest ‘ win-win’ between China and Congo (DRC) ”.
The interest of the reading is the chronological presentation between 2008 and 2021. Thus, in 2008, following the polite refusal of the Western partners to accept the formula proposed by the Congolese authorities “Infrastructures / Mining”, China approached in second place accepts the challenge. Hence the signing, between the Government of the DRC and the Chinese Business Group, of the “ Collaboration agreement relating to the development of a mining project and an infrastructure project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ”.
Also, in March 2010, while the DRC began in 2008 to benefit from the fruit of the first infrastructures with the means of communication, schools, hospitals and that SICOMINES has not yet produced anything, the parties concerned jointly sign the protocol of agreement relating to the construction of the Busanga dam.
In 2015, after examining the feasibility study report, experts from the DRC’s Ministry of Energy and Hydraulic Resources issued the so-called approval document.
In February 2016, the Congolese Environment Agency issued the Environment Certificate. Moreover, 2016 is a pivotal year in that the DRC, China Railway Resources Group Co. Ltd (CRR) and PowerChina Resources Limited (PCR) sign the “Joint Venture Agreement relating to the construction and operation of the Busanga hydroelectric power station ”, at the same time as the Sino-Congolaise Hydroelectric de Busanga Société Anonyme (SICOHYDRO) was born.
In August of the same year is signed between the Congolese Ministry of Energy and Hydraulic Resources and SICOHYDRO “the Concession Contract relating to the production of electric energy at the Busanga site on the Lualaba river in the Province of LUALABA” .
In November 2017, while since 2008 the DRC has continued to see infrastructures increase in diversity, quantity and quality, the construction works of Busanga finally started with its installation capacity of 240 MW.
TECHNICAL SHEET AND RELATED ACHIEVEMENTS
In 2021, the work will be completed at a high cost of USD 656 million, a project fully funded by the Chinese side, the technical sheet being presented in the document cited above.
Let us remember at least that the operating concession for the project is for 30 years and that several auxiliary structures have been prepared: access road, combined construction power line, road on the left and right bank, sand production plant.
“Since 2018, with the full implementation of four major dam projects, plant, diversion tunnels, and mechanical and electrical equipment installations, project construction has progressed by leaps and bounds.
“With the aim of building a world-class power plant with high safety, quality and efficiency, the project aims to obtain the Luban Prize, the highest distinction in the construction industry in China, as well as renowned awards. international ”, underlines the document.
FIRST MEGA-PROJECT TO ENTER INTO PRODUCTION UNDER ITS MANDATE
An essential fact to remember: the project being completed and as soon as it goes into production, the guarantee that the dam will supply SICOMINES electricity to all the surrounding provinces and cities.
“It will become the engine of the sustainable development of the regional economy,” the document points out. It is indicated for the moment to recall that on December 18, 2021, during the closing ceremony of the 5th national conference on energy organized by the Federation of Enterprises of Congo (FEC) in Lubumbashi, SICOHYDRO was awarded ” Exceptional Development Company 2021 ”for the construction of the Modern Busanga Hydroelectric Plant, the first major project for 65 years in Katanga.
President Félix Tshisekedi attaches a deserved importance to it because in anticipation of its inauguration, he has seconded one of his advisers to closely follow the progress of the preparations.
Busanga, it is quite normal, is the first mega-hydroelectric project to go into production under his mandate.