|Note the portraits of the three |
presidents in the power station's control room
The day Joseph Kabila and Paul Kagame refused to publically shake hands at the UN meeting in New York late September, I was visiting the Ruzizi II hydroelectric plant in South Kivu, an hour’s drive from Bukavu.
The Ruzizi II power station, built in 1989, is operated by a tri-national company (Burundi, Rwanda and Congo) but the dam, power station and transformers are located in the DRC.
One third of the electricity, is for Congo, one third for Burundi and another third for Rwanda. Pressumambly, if Kinshasa decided to throw the switch, it could deprive its troublesome neighbours of power.
According to most expert reports, only 9% of Congolese have access to electricity (with 30% in urban areas). But given the frequent blackout spells (délestage) there is never 9% that has electricity at any given moment.
In addition to being a social and economic problem lack of electricity is an environmental catastrophe. People chop down Congo’s forests to produce cooking fuel.
The question that was on the tongues of many Kivutians who know that Congolese electricity is going to Rwanda and who have only limited accesss to electricity themselves is this: if our president is really at odds with Kagame, why are we still supplying Rwanda with our much needed energy?
Does anyone have an anwser to this?