Competition lights up as Democratic Republic of Congo liberalizes electricity center


In Africa’s fourth most populous country, only 10% of the population is connected to the electrical grid. Despite huge potential, less than 2.5% of the hydroelectric resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo are utilized. This lack of critical infrastructure hinders human flourishing and stifles entrepreneurship. Atlas Network partner Centre for Development and Enterprises Democratic Republic of Congo (CDE DRC) set out to change that, and they have already achieved huge results. Through their Umeme Bila Kodi (Electricity Without Taxes) campaign, CDE DRC has worked to encourage the liberalization of the electricity market in their country, which will improve lives and enable businesses to grow.

Centre for Development and Enterprises Democratic Republic of Congo set out to educate and mobilize the public and push policy changes. To lay the groundwork for their advocacy, they first conducted research on the difficulty of starting and running a business in the country due to limited electricity supply. CDE DRC used the study’s findings to back a series of videos featuring Congolese entrepreneurs discussing the difficulties their businesses have faced. They also met with key government officials to explain their research and policy proposals, gave presentations to the public, and promoted their campaign through the media. They reached over 1,000 people through in-person events, 100,000 viewers online, and had 57 contacts with the media.

Their education and mobilization efforts led to a real movement for policy change. Spurred on by CDE DRC’s work, several petitions made the rounds which garnered 50,000 signatures in one city alone before being sent to key government officials. The groundswell was so powerful that at his State of the Congolese Nation speech in December 2020, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo announced his decision to follow CDE DRC’s suggestions and open the electricity sector to the free market. He specifically mentioned lowering prices through competition and inviting both domestic and international investment. As an immediate win, the regulatory and tax structures have been reformed to encourage private investors. CDE DRC estimates that 100,000 people will benefit from their project.

Atlas Network supported this project with a grant.