Virunga National Park ends 2015 with an energy milestone

Virunga National park is still beaming with pride after celebrating a major milestone in the development of the Virunga Alliance.

photo of power plant worker, Virunga Alliance

Yesterday, Virunga National Park welcomed His Excellency President Joseph Kabila Kabange to inaugurate Matebe Hydroelectric Plant in Rutshuru, turning on the electric for the very first time.

His Excellency was joined by long-standing partners of the Virunga Alliance, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN), the European Union and the Virunga Foundation.

Also in attendance were honourable dignitaries from the Congolese Government including seven cabinet ministers as well as official representatives from the European Union, British, American and Belgian governments.

Matebe Power Station is set to produce 13.6 MW of clean electricity, kickstarting the green economy and over 12,000 sustainable jobs for people in and around the region of Rutshuru. Park communities and dignitaries celebrated this milestone in the history of the region, further demonstrating a commitment to clean, sustainable development through the park’s public-private initiative, the Virunga Alliance.


“Having overcome the difficulties of delivering on a project of this scale in just two years, we have proven that projects like Matebe can be built in Congo to the same high standards as anywhere in world”

Emmanuel de Merode

Yesterday’s inauguration of Matebe followed that of Mutwanga, a pilot hydroelectric project that has already enriched the local economy in Beni and acted as a catalyst for the largest soap factory in eastern Congo, as well as a papaya enzyme production company. At over 30 times the size of Mutwanga, Matebe offers huge potential to scale up on this impact.

The inaugurations of Matebe and Mutwanga mark just the beginning of a further set of energy projects set to develop eastern Congo. Howard G. Buffett has committed a further $39 million USD towards the cost of completing two more hydroelectric plants in the region of North Kivu under the umbrella of the Virunga Alliance.

After the inauguration ceremony, His Excellency President Joseph Kabila Kabange visited the Mikeno Lodge at Virunga National Park’s headquarters in Rumangabo. Whilst there, he paid a visit to the famous orphaned mountain gorillas at the Senkwekwe Centre. Mikeno Lodge is also at the centre of Virunga National Park’s tourism industry – offering a retreat for tourists visiting the park from all over the world – representing another pillar of the Virunga Alliance.