DRC: Power Shortage Caused by Drought

FILE - Fishing vessels are seen docked along the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, Dec. 21, 2016. A current drought has left water levels in the Congo River at their lowest point in the past 100 years.
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The Democratic Republic of Congo’s power company says it may have to severely reduce hydroelectric production because of historically low levels in the Congo River.

“We fear that if we don’t have enough water, we would have to stop the turbines because they cannot function when the water is below a certain level,” said Medard Kitakani, an official of the National Electricity Company (SNEL).

Congo is one of many African countries struggling with the effects of an extended regional drought.

SNEL said this week that water levels in the Congo River — one of the longest and deepest in Africa — are at their lowest point in the past 100 years.

A cut in power could have major effects on the economy, especially in the mining industries, which depend on the river for electricity.

Kitakani told VOA French to Africa that SNEL currently produces 900 megawatts, the bulk of it coming from a hydroelectric complex near the western city of Matadi.

Production could drop to 350 to 400 megawatts during the coming dry season if the river level falls too low, he said.

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