Construction of 240Mw Busanga Hydropower project in DRC moves forward

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4 villages will be forced to evacuate their land in the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to make way for the construction of the 240MW Busanga hydropower dam project of the Sino-Congolese Hydroelectric Company (Sycohydro). The Busanga hydropower dam project that has a budget for construction of US$660 million in Busanga is part of sicomines’ “minerals and infrastructure” partnership that despite having disputes with local communities previously, is set to move forwards after the communities demanded better compensation. Various NGOs active in the governance of the energy sector have written to the provincial minister of the interior of Lualaba asking him to postpone the 12-day period granted to the inhabitants of the villages, Kamalenge, Monga Lubuza and Wafinya who are being asked to leave. They want the deadline to extend to a final and satisfactory compromise for all parties.

In a statement signed on July 17, the provincial minister asked residents who had already received compensation to release their homes by July 29 to allow Sycohydro to dig the basins useful for the dam’s operation.

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For NGOs, such a situation violates the constitution, with the Law providing fundamental principles on environmental protection and the Decree setting out the rules for the functioning of procedural mechanisms for environmental protection. These organizations stress that the implementation of the Busanga Hydroelectric project is part of the Chinese contract, which aims to revive the country’s economy on the one hand and improve the well-being of people on the other hand, however, this project should respect human rights and integrate the demands of local communities in its evolution. They call on the Minister to involve other ministries, state services and other stakeholders to ensure the protection and respect of the rights of local communities in the process of relocating and relocating populations from the Busanga Hydroelectric project.