Tucson, AZ Dec. 14, 1999 SolarQuest® iNet News Service
Minister Babi Mbayi is one of forty ministers representing various African countries at the US-African Minister’s Energy Conference. Minister Mbayi is the Minister of Energy for the Democratic Republic of Congo. The French speaking minister through his aide appeared passionate about informing the media of his role in this conference. The minister explained that his country has a generous supply of electricity, the problem is there is no adequate means of getting electricity to its rural areas.
A repeating theme of this much needed conference is the coming together, and forming of partnerships that will benefit all involved.
Minister Mbayi stated that some 65-75% of those who reside in rural villages in Africa are without the benefit of electricity. He has come with a clear-cut agenda to partner with the African Council to sell electricity. Congo is known also for its vast amount of resources, under some of the world’s best soil. Congo has a sufficient amount of electricity. The central problem is there is a great need for technology, materials, and a sound partnership to accomplish the minister’s mission.
The city of Inga in Congo, is the heart of energy in Africa. The hydro potential at Inga is huge. Therefore, it cannot be used for the needs of Congo alone. Congo has developed a dynamic policy to promote the export of power from Inga. The minister explained again, “We have the power, the problem we face is getting it to our rural areas." The implementation of such a merger with the United States would help to strengthen two already well off domains.
The minister insisted that we not look at his country as destitute. When one talks about the DRC wealth, one thinks directly of copper, gold, diamond, and cobalt. If it is true that mine resources make Congo a geographical scandal, it is important to emphasize that the most significant wealth of the DRC is its huge hydro-graphical resources made of the Congo river and its numerous tributaries. He made clear that his people are currently at war with Uganda over rights to its resources. Congo is rich in gold and diamonds and in a side conversation with the minister’s administrative aide, Luc Pae, (pronounced pie), he felt deeply that the United States would be wise in investing in the interest of Congo. The United States could only gain from the resources of the country. The aide insisted having adequate electricity flowing through their rural areas is worth a lot more than gold. He put it simply, gold, diamonds, and such cannot light a schoolhouse or highway.
So as we are quickly learning at this wonderful and potentially successful conference here in the city of Tucson, that there are many issues connected with it. Minister Mbayi has come in search of a sound partnership, realizing that like any other successful merger all parties involved must benefit. The minister closed our interview with optimism stating that he believes this conference will be a success because, “All who are really concerned are right here.”