Central Africa,Africa Infrastructure

Virunga Energy is a hydro-electric power business in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), backed by the UK charity, Virunga Foundation. It provides clean electricity to communities living in and around Virunga National Park in North Kivu, Eastern Congo.

CDC’s investment will support the development of the electricity grid and the construction of two new plants, resulting in almost 30 megawatts (MW) of new generation.

Our investment

In 2016, CDC committed up to $9 million to Virunga Energy, through the Impact Accelerator.

Our loan was the first commercial capital for the project, which until that time had received only grant funding.

Expected impact

North Kivu suffers from a chronic lack of electricity: its 3 per cent electrification rate compares to 17 per cent nationally. Local industry runs on expensive diesel, or on charcoal that is made from trees illegally felled inside the park (providing a major source of income for armed groups).

Reliable electricity supply from Virunga is expected to boost business activity to provide sustainable livelihoods. In turn, it is hoped that this will provide an attractive alternative for at-risk youth through skills development and employment opportunities. This was the first concession agreement under the liberalised energy law introduced in 2014 (CDC funded legal support to Virunga for this process).

By the end of 2017, over 4,000 customers had been connected to Virunga’s grid, including households, small to medium-sized enterprises and social infrastructure.

New businesses are being formed and several customers have moved their operations to access Virunga’s power. Public lighting has been provided for the first time in villages close to one of Virunga’s plants, increasing safety.

Environmental and social aspects

We helped Virunga to implement good international industry practice (GIIP) for environmental and social (E&S) management.

Virunga has made good progress and we continue to support the company in this area, including through a grant-funded programme to help build and train Virunga’s E&S team.

Key facts


Since 2012, we’ve only invested in Africa and South Asia. Investments outside these regions are from our pre-2012 portfolio.

Africa, Central Africa
Democratic Republic of Congo

We have seven priority sectors. However, we continue to invest outside these sectors, largely in the most challenging regions, as new investment supporting any sector helps to underpin the private sector, and create jobs and livelihoods for people.

Investment type

We provide capital in three broad ways: direct equity, debt, and intermediated equity (principally through investment funds).

Direct Equity
Start date

For direct investments, this is the date CDC committed capital to the business or project.

For funds, this is the date that CDC committed capital to the fund.

For underlying fund investments, this is the date that the fund invested capital into the business.e

March 2016

For direct investments, this is the total amount that CDC has committed to the business or project (it may be a combination of equity and debt).

For funds, this is the total amount that CDC has committed to the fund.


This is the investee company’s place of incorporation; or a fund’s jurisdiction.


CDC is becoming British International Investment