Global Climate Crisis: The Democratic Republic of Congo Offers a Solution

Guest Post By: Issa Ludunge Jospin, Researcher in Earth and Environmental Sciences within the CREGEM-R.D. Congo

Located at the center of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R. Congo) is a vast territory full of spectacular natural potentials. Grace to its forests, which alone possesses a set of two-thirds of the Congo Basin forests and nearly 10% of the world’s rain forests, it provides ecosystem services to the community at the local, national and global levels. It also has a vast swampy forest known as the “central bowl” which is one of the world’s great river basins and  plays an essential role in carbon sequestration, making them essential in the fight against global warming. The D.R. Congo is called the “water tower of Africa” thanks to its great hydraulic potential for clean power generation consisting of rivers and lakes at a variety of elevations. All of this makes this nation a significant player in the fight against global warming.

The progressive awareness of the citizens living in this country, in relation to the climate problem, is good news because contrary to past years, a collective awareness in environmental protection is being seen both among political decision-makers and in civil society. This has grown considerably, and their actions are gradually erasing doubts about the ability of this territory to fulfill its civic role in the present and future climate crises.

What observations, decisions, and actions are undertaken by the various actors of the environment sector working in Africa in general and in the D.R. Congo in particular in order to guarantee a better future for the planet? The aim of this project is to inform the public about the positive advances in relation to this issue by providing scientific comments.

The protection of the natural environment of the Congo Basin is no longer a matter of debate but becomes an emergency if Africa in general and the D.R. Congo, in particular, want to see their contribution in this fight be concrete. The vision of the Congolese authorities is to attack the environmental problem from all sides by playing the roles of protector, defender, and repairer. Their action plan, even if timidly implemented to date, promises to be life-saving for the ecological environment of the D.R. Congo, and the Congo Basin as a whole.

The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Democratic Republic of Congo presents its nation as a “country-solution” to the climate crisis and presents the contribution of the latter under three components considered to protect the environment:

Strategic Minerals such as Cobalt, Lithium, and Coltan (Tantalum): The world seeks to promote a green economy that calls for reducing pollution in manufacturing and the industrial sector.

Strategic minerals are defined as rare and unequally located natural resources in the world or shared, expensive or difficult to access, but essential for industrial activity, information, and communication technologies, security, and energy. Cobalt, lithium, and coltan are especially important because they are all used in the energy sector (example: battery manufacturing) and green technologies (example: renewable energy and rechargeable battery). The D.R. Congo is one of the world’s major producers of these three minerals. For cobalt alone, In 2020, according to USGS (United States Geological Survey), terrestrial resources of cobalt amount to 25 million tons; most of it (more than half) is located in the “Copper Belt”, mining area which notably includes part of the Province of Katanga in the D.R. CONGO. According to the department of economics and environmental research of the IFPN, cobalt is considered to be the preferred metal of the energy transition and is considered critical in many ways.

The Hydraulic Network: The Congo River with all its inflows constitutes 10% of the world’s freshwater reserves and 50% of the freshwater reserve in Africa. Considering the great flow of oil in Congo this allows them to develop hydroelectric power, which is clean energy that can allow for a decrease in pressure on forests, especially reducing the use of wood for heat. 

The region of Central and Eastern Africa and beyond, the entire continent, have so far been characterized by relatively small electricity networks that are poorly integrated with each other, with the exception of a few cases. The exchange of electricity between the countries of the sub-region could be a solution in order to provide clean energy to the whole of this region. 

The D.R. Congo features a significant hydroelectric potential estimated at over 100,000 MW. It is estimated that developing this potential would allow to produce up to 774 TWh (OINF, September 2006). This places D.R. Congo in third position after China and Russia whose potential Hydroelectric power is estimated to be 1.320 and 1096 TWh respectively. It is with this in mind that the R.D.CONGO presents its “Inga” Hydroelectric Dam located on the Congo River. The development of this dam will not only provide interconnected countries with not only clean but also cheap electrical energy in order to discourage the establishment of infrastructure for the production of non-renewable fossil energy: coal, diesel, and deforestation. According to experts from the D.R. Congo Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development; if the four Inga turbines were operational, the electricity supply could increase from 14% to 60, or even 70%. And neighboring countries of the D.R. Congo would also benefit.

Forests and the Central Cuvette: The forests of the D.R. Congo cover an estimated area of ​​1,280,042.16 Km2. The forests of the Congo Basin extend from Cameroon to the D.R. Congo, passing through Gabon, the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and Equatorial Guinea. These immense forests, which extend over an area greater than three times the size of France, constitute a quarter of the remaining tropical forests on Earth. The D.R. Congo is home to one of the largest intact natural forests on the planet (the equatorial forest).

In order to defend its ecological resources, governments and civil society in the D.R. Congo have all played key roles. The Congolese government established constitutional laws to guarantee the protection of the environment. For the year 2020, the ministry in charge of forests of the D.R. Congo has registered 54 civil society organizations interested in the forestry sector, particularly in the protection and remediation of forests.

Finally, to overcome the problem of deforestation, reforestation comes to the rescue. Several projects are carried out in the D.R. Congo to re-plant forests and make up for losses in native plant species used for local survival needs. In 2012, in response to the increasing use and scarcity of fuelwood from sustainable sources, the development of private forestry encouraged by the national afforestation and reforestation program (ProNAR), and the growing role of forests in mitigating climate change, that the authorities of the D.R. Congo developed a new forest policy based on the sustainable management of forests, the reconstitution of degraded forests and reforestation.

Climate change is everyone’s problem, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo certainly has a major role to play in this fight. But, given the scale of the stakes and the current state of this nation, it is through the competition of international unity that the Planet will be able to emerge victoriously. That said, we encourage African development funds and all the various environmental actors and donors who continue to support the development of Africa in general and Central Africa in particular by several means, with an emphasis on development projects. positive impacts on the environment.

Follow Issa Jospin on Twitter: @Issa_Jospin

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