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Congo nun overcomes blackouts with homemade hydroelectric plant

DJAFFAR AL KATANTY

SISTER Alphonsine Ciza spends most of her day in gumboots, a white veil tucked under a builder’s hat, manning the micro-hydroelectric plant she built to overcome daily electricity cuts in her town of Miti in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

She works around the clock with a team of nuns and engineers, greasing machinery and checking the dials of a generator that is fed from a nearby reservoir and lights up a convent, church, two schools and a clinic free of charge.

Without the plant, residents would only have electricity two or three days a week for a few hours.

“We sisters… cannot function this way because we have to provide a lot of services,” said Ciza, 55, a portable voltage meter slung around her neck in the town of about 300,000 inhabitants near the border with Rwanda.

Congolese nun and electrical engineer Alfonsine Ciza turns the wheel of the mechanical regulator of the turbine at her micro-hydropower plant that provides electricity to a convent, schools and a health centre in Miti near Bukavu South Kivu in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo April 12, 2022. REUTERS/Djaffar Sabiti

Blackouts are a daily disruption in the Congo, a vast central African country of around 90 million people that sources most of its electricity from a run-down and mismanaged hydropower system.

The government has worked with foreign partners in an effort to increase the capacity of the mineral-rich nation’s ailing grid. Critics say the new projects focus too much on powering mines and exporting electricity to neighbouring countries.

By The African Mirror

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