DR Congo president warns over risk to forest reserves

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DR Congo's Inga power plants on the river are a key part of its energy programme. By MARC JOURDIER (AFP)
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AFP

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has warned the country’s vast forest resources—crucial to countering global warning—are at risk without faster development of its huge hydro-electricity potential.

The Congo River basin forest region is one of the largest in the world after the Amazon and, like the South American rain forests, it plays a vital role in absorbing global carbon emissions.

Along with illegal logging, the forest is threatened by the production of charcoal, a key energy resource for inhabitants because of the lack of electricity supplies.

“Given that more than 90 per cent of the energy consumed in the DRC comes from wood, the lack of programmes to deliver clean and renewable energy is a direct threat to our forests,” Tshisekedi said at an energy forum on Tuesday.

“At the current pace of population growth and energy demands, our forests risk extinction by 2100.”

The Congo basin forest covers two thirds of the country or around 1.5 million kilometre square.

At the end of 2018, DR Congo authorities announced a deal for a Spanish-Chinese consortium to develop the Inga 3 hydro-electric mega-dam project on the Congo River rapids, one of the world’s most powerful and a key part of the country’s energy plans.

The project has been delayed and both residents and environmental activists are concerned about its impact.

“We must get past this paradox of being a country that is one of the world’s top five in hydroelectric potential but one that ranks among the worst in access to electricity,” the DRC leader said.

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