Congo’s SNEL Signs 200 Megawatt Solar Deal for Copper Province

Democratic Republic of Congo’s national electricity company, SNEL, signed two purchase agreements for a total of 200 megawatts of solar power with a local unit of Financing Access Congo, according to an emailed statement from Financing Access Congo.

Brazzaville-based group Financing Access Congo has partnered with China’s Green Power Capital investment fund to finance the project, which will cost about $305 million, the company said. The solar fields will be installed near the copper and cobalt mining hubs of Kolwezi and Likasi.

The projects will improve power access for residents around the two cities and “assure the furnishing of electricity to industries in the zone, notably the mining companies that represent the economic lungs of Haut-Katanga and Lualaba provinces,” SNEL Chief Executive Jean-Bosco Kayombo Kayan said, according to the statement.

Miners are desperate for more power to process minerals in Congo’s southwest Katanga region, which has some of the world’s richest copper mines and produces about two-thirds of the world’s cobalt. Katanga has only 567 megawatts of installed capacity, far short of its 900 megawatt demand, according to the country’s national investment agency, ANAPI. Miners alone need about 600 megawatts, ANAPI estimates. Nationally, only about 9% of Congolese have electricity.

Hong Kong-based Green Power Capital is run by Song Dongsheng, the former chairman of China’s state-controlled Sinohydro Corp., according to the statement. Sinohydro has a number of mining and infrastructure investments in Congo, including the Sicomines copper and cobalt mine in Kolwezi.

China’s OTEC Engineering will also work on the project, Financing Access Congo said.

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