28 June 2012 – Until fairly recently, Congo needed to import 50 per cent of its energy from its neighbor the Democratic Republic of Congo, but it will soon enjoy increased output through its own power stations.

The Imboulou Hydroelectric Power Station pumped out its first unit last May and is expected to pump out 876 million kW per hour, resulting in 120 megawatts a year.
The station benefits from the latest management and information technology and is being financed through the state budget.

Around 600 Chinese technicians and engineers have been involved in the $341 million project, which includes a city for employees, with 45 modern buildings, a hotel, a restaurant, a free health center, a school, resting areas and many other social facilities.

At the Imboulou inauguration, President Denis Sassou N’Guesso also opened a new high voltage transformer station in a mountain village nearby.

Thanks to this development, Brazzaville and other major cities are already being powered and the energy is injected within the national grid through two parallel lines of 220 KV, each of them linking the power station to the redistribution center.

This system will play a crucial role within the Congolese power network as it is the link between Imboulou power station, the one already existing in the south of the country and a third network which is being built in the north.

Neighborhood grids
Last autumn, the government also signed a memorandum of agreement with Cameroon for the construction of a 600 megawatt hydropower plant, allowing both countries to expand their grids.

A dam will be built on the River Tcha in Cameroon, which lies 70 kilometers from the town of Ngouala, in Congo’s Sangha provice.

The project is an important development for other countries in the Central African region, who will receive a much-needed energy supply and thus be able to develop themselves.

Among other projects coming to fruition are the seven high-voltage power stations of 220 KV and 110 KV in Djiri, Ngo, Gamboma, Oyo, Boundji, Owando and Djambala, as well as an underground line of 220 KV in Tsilampo and nine aerial lines of 30 KV, spanning 242 km in length.

More lines will link the cities to the main network. Four underground lines of 20KV each, spanning 50 kilometers in total, will be constructed to inject the power from Imboulou into Brazzaville.

Nine other high voltage lines of 220 KV and 110 KV, covering a length of 841 kilometers will complete the project, making a total length of 1,588 km for the national electricity transformation network.

These undertakings, costing more than $602 million, represent more than double the total works done in recent years.

Other complementary initiatives have been launched, including a factory to build concrete poles to reinforce the existing ones, as well as a fiber optic cable integrated to the electricity lines which will improve the communication system between the high-voltage stations and the hydropower station.

Street lighting has also received significant attention, with the government installing 4,522 streetlights across the major cities in the last year alone.

Reducing Carbon
The forward thinking, environmentally friendly Congo government has now launched the "Congo Carbon" initiative, with a view to establishing a renewable energy sector. Congo Carbon will involve making industrial carbon from forest residues.

At a continental level, Congo plays a key role in promoting green economies, and the Congo Carbon project, of which 10 percent is being financed by the African Biofuels and Renewable Energy Company (Faber), will see 2.7 million tons of carbon sequestered over 21 years. Other partners are being sought to help finance the $6 million plan.

Faber’s aim is to increase investment flows toward projects on biofuels and renewable energy to Africa, in order to promote sustainable development and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Congo Carbon project will be completed in two phases, to produce carbon from waste products, and to plant forests where there are currently none.
 
At the fourth annual joint meeting of the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa, held in Addis Ababa a year ago, Henri Djombo, the Congolese Minister in charge of the sustainable development, forestry economy and environment, encouraged the rest of Africa to develop green policies.

"Projects in the field of green business will depend on the ability of the respective states to adapt to new challenges," he said.

"The advent of the ‘Green Fund for Africa’, launched by the African Development Bank in Cancun in December 2010, will serve as a trigger for the emerging economy."

He added that opportunities offered by the development of the green economy are numerous in Africa and may concern several sectors, among which are the production of biofuels, ecotourism, renewable energy, the sustainable management of forests, and organic or ecologically sustainable agriculture.

Source: InFocus