The 240MW Busanga hydropower plant project in the town of Busanga is expected to power Sicomines, a nearby copper and cobalt mining joint venture between the Chinese companies and Congolese state miner Gecamines. The project is part of sicomines, the mining side of a US $6bn minerals-for-infrastructure deal signed in 2007, under which Sinohydro and China Railway Group pledged to build US $3bn worth of infrastructure in return for a 68% stake in the mine. Sicomines would require 170MW from the Busanga dam to run at full capacity, while the remaining 70MW would feed the national grid.
In July, an agreement was signed between the DRC government and the Chinese company Sinohydro for the construction of the Busanga dam and hydroelectric power plant downstream of two other existing power stations on the upper course of the Congo River.
Feasibility study to determine the optimal location and development plan of the plant waas done
Construction began in January
In July, the provincial minister of the interior of Lualaba granted the inhabitants of the Kamalenge, Monga Lubuza and Wafinya villages a 12-day period to release their homes by July 29 to allow Sycohydro to dig the basins useful for the dam’s operation.
However, various NGOs active in the governance of the energy sector wrote to the provincial minister of the interior asking him to postpone the 12-day period. They want the deadline to extend to a final and satisfactory compromise for all parties.
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 stressed 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 called 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.