Symbion Power is seeking to expand its energy production in Africa with a bid for a gas block in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the world’s least- electrified nations. The company, based in New York, proposed a $300 million, 60-megawatt gas-to-electricity project on Lake Kivu in the east of the country, which is opening its energy sector to private enterprise.
“The liberalization of the electricity sector in Congo and its dearth of electricity makes it an interesting place for companies like us that are used to working in frontier markets,” Symbion Power Chief Executive Officer Paul Hinks said in a phone interview. A separate firm formed by Symbion called MyHydro is also planning dozens of hydropower projects in the central African nation of 100 million people.
Symbion is one of four bidders for the Makelele gas block on Lake Kivu, which is shared by Rwanda and Congo and contains enough methane to produce an estimated 700 megawatts of electricity over more than 50 years. The three other bidders for the block didn’t respond to emailed messages requesting comment.
Congo has also opened bidding on two other gas blocks on the lake as part of its goal of expanding electricity access from about 10% of the population to 32% by 2030. The nation’s oil ministry has extended by a month its deadline for companies to submit the financial and technical
aspects of their bids to Nov. 26, according to a communique seen by Bloomberg and verified by the ministry.
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Symbion has developed two projects on the Rwandan side of the lake, which it sold in 2019.
The company’s proposed project in Congo will rely on direct-to-consumer sales of electricity through local private provider Societe congolaise de distribution d’eau et d’electricite, or Socodee, Hinks said.
The electricity will go to the trading hub of Goma, which currently only receives about 15 megawatts of a 100-megawatt need, Socodee’s chairman, Singoma Mwanza, said by phone.
La Presse du Congo/Bloomberg