- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced interest in investing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s solar energy sector
- The MoU was signed between DRC’s state electricity company Société Nationale d’Électricité (SNEL) and AMEA Power
- World Bank data indicates that DRC has a population of 84 million people, but only 19 to 20 per cent of the population have access to electricity
The United Arabs Emirates (UAE) has announced interest in investing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s solar energy sector.
The countries, through two companies, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to pave way for the production of 30 megawatts in DRC.
The MoU was signed between DRC’s state electricity company Société Nationale d’Électricité (SNEL) and AMEA Power.
SNEL Director-General Jean-Bosco Kayombo Kayan said the deal would see millions of people get connected to the national power grid.
According to the DG, UAE plans on exploring the country’s green energy sector.
“Today’s MoU is the beginning of a partnership that will see DRC’s electricity sector growing to the next level. We shall conduct a visibility study to see where the need is, after which investors will begin work,” Kayombo told The Exchange exclusively.
Kayombo said the country has an immense and varied energy potential, comprising renewable energy sources, including hydroelectric, biomass, solar, and geothermal power.
The countries will have twelve months to actualise the partnership.
The MoU was signed at the ongoing Annual Investment Meeting at the Dubai Expo 2020 in the United Arab Emirates.
Investors eye the power sector
The signing of the MoU comes when the DRC is attracting investment into the sector.
In 2021, for instance, UK based developer and investor Gridworks signed a deal with the government of DRC to create Moyi Power, a company that would build greenfield solar-powered distribution and generation infrastructure for half a million Congolese.
Africa Business reported that the initial investment for the three sites would be at least $100m, funded with a mixture of equity from the consortium, debt provided by development finance institutions and capital grants from donors and DFIs.
That same year, investment platform Trine from Sweden partnered with Altech Group, a DRC-based firm, to accelerate investments in solar in the DRC.
The deal would also promote the expansion of access to clean, reliable, and affordable energy for off-grid and poor-grid households.
Millions in darkness
World Bank data indicates that DRC has a population of 84 million people, but only 19 to 20 per cent of the population has access to electricity.
A separate finding by International Trade Administration indicates that the lack of access to modern electricity services in DRC impairs the health, education, and income-generating potential of millions of Congolese people.
“Most power generation development is directed and funded by mining companies seeking to power their facilities,” Trade Administration said.
The country has huge potential for green energy, with USAID noting that DRC has large mineral resources and can install up to 100,000 MW of hydropower capacity.
However, the sector faces many challenges, including high taxes, VAT and import duties, which contribute to the country’s low access rate.