Sunday, November 23, 2008

Electricity Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa)

We are now in the Democratic Republic of Congo. My anxiety level is running very high. The question is, why? The answer is an oxymoron. By the time you finish reading you will realize why.

To start with, Democratic Republic of Congo (I will call Kinshasa), is about the size of the United States East of the Mississippi (and Kinshasa is not the largest country in Africa). Kinshasa is home to rare animal species and a large potential for wealth in the form of highly valuable minerals and natural resources (cobalt, copper, niobium, tantalum, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, coal, timber to name a few).
With all these, Congo (Kinshasa) is also one of the poorest, most chaotic nations in the world; destroyed by Military coups, dictatorships, that by some estimates have claimed millions of lives in the past 48 years. In just about every part of the country, law and order, electricity and medicine are virtually nonexistent.

This blog is about electricity or lack there of, so lets go to the topic. For starters, Kinshasa has the potential to be self-sufficient in electricity NOW, and I mean PRESENT time. But it is not. This is why, like the Tennessee River in the United States of America and its hydroelectric dams, the Congo River of Kinshasa is the host to the Inga dams. Inga 1 was commissioned in the early 1970’s; Inga 2 was commissioned in the early 1980’s.
The sad situation is this, like all the countries I have already talked about, there is gross incompetence in Africa when it comes to preventive maintenance. The people who are in charge of these power generating stations tend to forget that Machines are like human beings, they need fuel to work, and where human beings go to the doctors for a check-up, machines need to be shutdown for check-ups too. Bearings may have to be replaced, with regard to hydro-generators, rotating coils and stator coils may have to be rebuilt. Inga 1 has a potential for 351 Megawatts of electricity, while Inga 2 has a potential for 1424 Megawatts; Inga 1 and 2 combined has a total potential for 1800 Megawatts (1.8 Gigawatts), but the two combine are producing less than700 Megawatts, and had never produced more while the late egocentric Mobutu Sese Sekko was in power. Folks, we are talking about my favorite subject GREEN electricity. The dams have already been built, and commissioned, and are running under capacity because some fool thinks it is better to put money away in Europe for the former colonial masters to keep safely, while the masses are starving and suffering with no medicines in the hospitals.
Now there comes the Grand Inga, this hydro-electric complex when completed, is supposed to be able to supply the electricity needs of the WHOLE of Africa. The question is, how can that be possible, if you are NOT able to take care of the little ones, how can you take care of the bigger ones.
It is like human raring, if parents CANNOT take of their little children, how can they be expected to take care of their older, bigger elderly parents.

Folks, this landscape with all her troubles, have more Hippos than one can count.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Electricity Congo (Brazzaville)

Thanks for traveling with me on this journey. It has been quite an experience but no thrill for me, considering some of the difficult situations I have encountered. But we are not here to white-wash anything no matter how ugly it turns out to be.
We are now in the Congo Republic (Brazzaville ) not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa); and yes they are neighbors and share a common border.

For the record, the President of this country is Denis Sassou Nguesoo who has been in power since 1997 (that is eleven years in office). Since self-governance was attained in 1960 from the French colonial masters, things have not been smooth in this environment. The first President Alphonse Massamba Debat was toppled in a military coup, and the leader of the coup, who became the head of state was himself assassinated in March 1977.

This is the land of the pygmies, and the indigenous pygmies are now SLAVES of the Bantus. These pygmies work for their masters and are only paid by with whatever their Bantu masters think they deserve ( used items, cigarettes, clothes etc.) This is one black man mistreating another black man, and the white man has nothing to do with it.

With all this turmoil, the report card is going to be that of Sassou Nguesoo. To start with, water availability is just over 20%. Electricity is only available to less than 10% of the population. Should we judge hard or soft? To start with, Brazzaville is an oil producer, and the government has borrowed heavily against future oil proceeds (talking about selling your soul to the devil), so anything coming out of the ground, already belong to the creditors (mostly Europeans).

Available information is that electricity production is around 60 Megawatts, even though there is a potential to produce about 45 times as much. At the present time, Brazzaville is producing much less than what it needs.

I know this blog is about electricity, but learning about the enslavement of black pygmies by black Bantus, has really dampened my spirit, and caused me a lot of distress.
What do I see in this environment? Nothing, but a herd of hippos.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Elctricity Gabon

We have arrived in Gabon, in Equatorial Africa.
For the record, Gabon is NOT a monarchy, but supposedly a republic, yet from November 1967 to this day, there has been only one person at the helm, in the name of Omar Bongo (formerly Albert-Bernard Bongo). Mr. Bongo and his children are running the country. With the Bongo children as Ministers or Director: and Papa Bongo as the President.

Anyway, Gabon is supposed to have about 400 Megawatts of electricity. I am using the word “supposed” because like just about every country in Africa, the word preventive maintenance is a foreign word.
Here is how the 400 Megawatts production is shaped. About 250 Megawatts comes from thermal reactors, the balance of 150 Megawatts comes from Hydro (my favorite and very green).
The hydro dams are located in Tchimbele, M’Bei , and Kinguélé, Poubara, Bongolo.
Over 75% of Gabonese have access to electricity; how many are really enjoying it is a different can of worm.

It is hard to tell if Gabon is meeting her needs, because lack of rainfall resulted in some blackouts in Libreville. One thing for sure, there is no extra-ordinary exploration of mineral resources in Gabon, an indication that, electricity is not enough.

Since we are only evaluating how much electricity is being produce, not who is in charge, I have to say with some reservations that the Bongos are doing a good job. However, if the banks in Switzerland would talk, and the question is what symbolic animal do we see in this landscape?

Well, weighing all that is involved, I will say we have hippos.