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Democratic Republic of CONGO - INTERVIEW 
Interview with Mr. Vika Di Panzu
Directing Manager of the Congolese Electricity Company (SNEL)


Summit communications: could you redraw us briefly the academic and professional route which brought you to the head of the SNEL?

Mr Vika di Panzu: it was in 1974 when I ended my studies of civil engineer in electricity. I began to work for the SNEL on the INGA's hydroelectric exchange inside the turbine in overall, then I climbed levels gradually till the level of Director of Inga's power plant between 1982 to1985, I evolved in the Province of Low Congo. Then, I left Inga for the Province of Katanga, in the period considered as lungs economic of the country because it produced 60 % of the national income, which is 470.000 tons of copper.In Katanga, I assumed the function of Director of distribution; in 1988 I am moth-eaten in Kinshasa, the Capital to assume the same function as that of Katanga for 2 years. In 1990, I return to Katanga as Provincial Director between 1990 and 1993. Note that in 1992, we began the export of electrical energy towards Zambia and Zimbabwe further to an aridity which knocked all the countries of Southern Africa with the land reclamation of the pond of Zambezi, These two countries fast resorted to our assistance for their supply in electrical energy and it is from there that accidentally it was born all this massive export of electrical energy towards Southern Africa.
As we speak, apart Zambia and Zimbabwe, he was added South Africa in 1998. In 1993, I left Katanga and I return to Kinshasa where I became Director of department of the production and the transport, The superintendent at the national level of all the hydroelectric power plants and all the lines of transport of high tensions of the country and two years later in 1995, I am appointed Delegate General Assistant in charge of the wallet of export of electrical energy.
In 1997, the new power arrives and all the public deputies of time are struck by a collective measure of suspension of activities and after this said measure I am retained as councillor in international relations of all the management committees which succeeded one another since then. It is only the last year when I had this executive director's post General of the SNEL.

Summit Communications: in all this beautiful biography, what is the time which most marked you? What are your best wishes or the most painful?

Mr Vika di Panzu: I knew three hard times in my life: in the first place, the beautiful time of the construction of Inga's dam which was formidable. Followed by its exploitation, when we went in China, recently I was able to admire the dam of "Gorges Three", which reminded me my most beautiful youth. Indeed, I was 25 years old at the time of the construction of Inga's dam. Secondly, when I became Director of the city of Kinshasa in 40 years, Kinshasa is at first the capital and the most populated city, you have to face all the time all these breakdowns and all these problems of distribution networks. .
Then, the third, it is the challenge of export of electrical energy. It is necessary to us to increase the capacities of export through the construction of new infrastructures.
But, we cannot make it because we have no money, we count on the partnership with the private to be able to build new infrastructures which can give place to a more important export of electrical energy which in the medium term will multiply by ten the income of the company and In the long term will multiply by one hundred the income of the company. Today, we speak about 50 million dollars a year, it is enough to make 10 productions to have 500 million dollars a year, in the long term we shall have 5 billion dollars a year.

Summit Communications: you spoke a great deal of the big potential which possesses Congo in energy material. Could you place us briefly on the main trump cards which possess the RDC in energy material and especially of hydro-electric power?

Mr Vika di Panzu: the main asset if we compared in the others hydro-electric power countries is that Inga's site lends itself to a progressive organization at very low price; the site already has dry valleys which exist. Thus, there is not to dig; to build canals of floods. To Inga the nature has been already prepared for you, what makes that really the costs of exploitations are lesser, it is not the case somewhere else. So the cost of installation in Kilowatt is less 1.000 USD, the Kilowatt. We begin with 1.000 USD to end towards 500 USD the Kilowatt, whereas somewhere else the price is between 3.000 and 4.000 USD the Kilowatt. that is the first advantage.
The Inga's second advantage is the abundance of tension, it is an immense potential beyond the capacities of uses inside the country. Thus, there is a strong natural tension of export of this energy. And the third advantage is that; the misfortune of the some making the happiness of the others, we have certain number of countries which enter more and more energy deficits which makes that quite naturally, they turn to the one who has in abundance there to be able to be fed with electrical energy, from Congo.

Summit Communications: you speak a great deal of Inga but there are some other dams. Could you explain us just a little the productivity of each?

Mr Vika di Panzu: in all the provinces, you have hydroelectric sites which can be exploited but the universal potential is 44.000 Mega Watts, the economically exploitable potential inside the country is 100.000 MW which is not very economically exploitable with the current technology we arrive at 200.000 MW, but economically exploitable, in the copies of installations, he must be lower than 2.000 USD the Kilowatt. Thus, we have it for 100.000MW and it left in all the provinces there, we can very well exploited the hydroelectric sites everywhere, the only challenge is the viability of projects in the sense that Congo is not industrialized a lot - which makes most of the provinces very isolated (except for the big pole western and of the South and a little Center) : there are no industries which can enter the pivot to be able to economically justify the installation, the exploitation of sites for all these very corners, there is only a domestic consumption, and if we have to exploit these sites there; we have for market that the domestic consumers that we tax in invoices with 1 hundred USD the kilowatt per hour as it is in Kinshasa we must go to 20 or 30 hundred USD the kilowatt per hour but I believe the populations will not be able to face that.

The solution to that is to try to find partners who can come to establish industries inside the country and to exploit even hydroelectric sites very close of these industries to such kind that is the starting of the bank and then, it could give place to a development of the populations inside the country. But for the moment, you can ask to the manufacturers to go inside the country it is difficult because there are no roads, you can ask to somebody to go there, the day before he does not know how to take go out there that by air, the product which it will manufacture will be excessively expensive and finally that will not be well, therefore initially the only manner
For the interior of the country even for the exploitation of the small sites over there is to develop this export starting from Inga, to have rather considerable incomes of exports and to hold a share of this export to make the checking of the back country of it.

Summit Communications: if we speak about the transport of the maintaining energy you face many problems of electricity equipments, attitudes of vandalism also in provinces the most put off as Katanga, what are solutions which the SNEL brings to these problems in the security of the transport?

Mr. Vika di Panzu: I think that to solve these problems, there is the SNEL's aspect and there is the macro economics' environment aspect of the country. because if there is vandalism, thieves... it is because some share there is an extreme poverty, they could try out the same thing here if they were under the same conditions and I think that it is one of causes of the acts of vandalisms but one nevertheless manages to moderate that by new policies which we have just set up by the SNEL: it is the motivation of the usual chiefs and the communities which are crossed by our high-tension lines.

Another problem is also that if the production can started again in the country, we think that this would contribute to ease the poverty and we think that people will think less of the acts of vandalism, and all that we have. Concerning these problems of transport of out datedness of equipment which we have on the level of the lines of transport, that is simply due to the complete suppression of any international co-operation with the institutions of Bretton Woods, one was sever of any access to the credit: the result was the progressive deterioration of all the infrastructures including, the infrastructures in the electric energy sector. We tinkered, we managed, but it was not possible to be able to have access to the credit so that we can replace equipments and pay little by little, if an equipment was damaged, it was necessary to pay cash in advance to the supplier, it is only when it is credited in its banking account that this Mister starts to manufacture equipment that you want to buy, if that takes 4 to 7 months, for the transformer in high voltage that can take 8 months and as soon as he finishes to manufacture, it has there the shipping with made which takes 10 or 12 months; and after having to pay integrality in advance cash that you receive the equipment and I defy any company of electricity in the world by putting it under these conditions of having a service of quality there, it is impossible to reason why are we under this condition of out datedness and practically of poor quality of electric supply of power? It is due to the fact that we were completely abandoned ourselves because the mode that we had with Mobutu and the continuation were not with satisfaction of the Western countries.

Summit Communications: the financial situation as you explained it is not shining, and then what are the strategies of the SNEL for the covering of debts because the State owes you a lot of money?

Mr.Vika di Panzu: There is an effort on the level of the State to pay its invoice. It is what they call "Budgetary Support" with the companies of the wallet, they did that for 2004 and 2005, which we receive compared to the given invoice is of the order of the third or of the quarters but it is already something compared to naught. The Only problem which remainder is the payment of the invoices of electricity of Para official companies, for that, there is a few days the vice president in fill of economy and finance give a seminar launched to see how making the compensation cross of the credits between Para official companies, that can be another source of payment of our invoices between Para official companies. Extremely the economic environment thus cleansed which is at least different from what we knew in passed, the SNEL set up the Port Rescue and of Rectification (PSR), the plan was approved not only by our government, but also the pool of the energy from the Southern Africa in Lesotho, we had the adhesion of all our colleagues of the Southern Africa on this effort of recovery of management. It will have as priority access the commercial one because without resource it is not possible to make a good policy of exploitation and management. We have enormous efforts required the with dimensions commercial one which go to centre itself on priority shutters like, the counting of the really consumed electric power because we are close to the account of 50% of the invoice and then after the counting, we will supply the meters because one has only 10% of the customers which have meters, the remainder is taxed with the fixed price, which is the object precisely of many complicities prejudicial to the company between our agents and our customers, other rectifications are centered on the computerization of commercial management to have data at real time on the hand, and the other by avoiding the cost with the receipts on the level of our points of perception. When manual management is wasted, this let the place with many complicities, of castings of the receipts and I think that the handing-over with the order of counting and the computerization of management with whole share could make a miracle since we have 1.5 million --- currently here in Kinshasa and soon it can more gradually pass 4 to 5 times with time. But that will be accompanied of course by good set up of the man that it is necessary for the place that it is necessary, i.e. without political colouring but being based simply on the principle of competence, experiment and behaviour, there is all a vast program which we have of fight against the anti-values, change of mentalities.

Summit Communications: One can say you worked for restored the fundamental ones in this company, all the executives in this total strategy to rectify the different fundamental ones from the economy, in management of the SNEL. Which would be great measurements of good governorship?

Mr. Vika di Panzu: it is what you call the vision of a good governorship, transparency of management, the fight against the anti-values, corruption... concerning us, to manage well wants to say the handing-over to the order of the rules and procedures of all the regulation of the company, we must make the management of respect of the rights and obligations, the first axis: handing-over in force of the rules and procedures of management, second axis: the transparency, the good governorship that is those are indicators of management, it is necessary that we can have the dashboard and by making the retreat of several years all the world was afraid to see the figures because in fact we did not see any more the figures, it is now that we have the figures. we see that year by year the production went up, the number of subscribed increased, consumption also, the sales turnover which does not make that to increase thus we called this plan; rectification and rescue plan thus to stop the fall by the antennas and to rectify the base because when you look at one of causes is a line which you will see over there the losses in distribution going from 30% to 48%, therefore there is some share of the losses, in spite of made that consumption goes up, in spite of made that the production goes up in between the sales turnover does nothing but go down. Reason for which I now instituted the behaviour of the dashboards of indicators of activities technical and commercial that has various levels we see according to methods of the respective periodicities on the level of low day, at the highest level at the week, on the level even higher in the month, at the macro level over there in the quarter, there are controls which are done among customers in particular the customers in high voltage because one has adulterate meters, there are cross controls which are done all that to arrive at this good governorship, this transparency of management, through the indicators and all those level of performance or control:

Summit Communications: what would be the mission of the SNEL from the social point of view?

Mr. Vika di Panzu: From the social point of view, I will hang up again myself with the vision of the company, because when we made this rectification and rescue plan we gave a little to explicit the vision of the company, it is this one which we defined in 1997 at the time of this great seminar in management and performance that we organized the, following which we collectively defined all the vision to make SNEL in outside, we have the objective to provide energy which is reliable, to lower cost and the satisfaction of the customers, if we manage to carry out this vision day by day, we go reached our objective after 4 or 5 months, if one day we can approach towards this ultimate objective, we will effectively have contributed to social need of the citizen, by giving him a reliable energy, an access to electricity with these populations in manner to give them comfort necessary, the desire for using it, for increasing the number of subscribed and to improve quality of the service to subscriber and we think, it is an indicator also on the level of development of a country, we must arrive at that. In the twenty years to come it will be a large company from energy able to satisfy a broad request for electrification at the national level as at the regional level.

SUMMIT COMMUNICATIONS: What is the objective that you have to achieve in the days to come?

Mr. Vika di Panzu: For the moment the rate of service road for the whole of the country is 6%, we would like modestly to arrive at the double of that, it is not easy but it is feasible. But it unequally set out again in the cities, Kinshasa has between 30% and 40%, the Province of Kasaï (in the center of the country) are to 1%, in the East we are to 0,1%.

Summit Communications: how many persons have you subscribed currently?

Mr. Vika di Panzu: We have 350 000 of subscribed, in three years coming, we can arrive at 700 000 of subscribers, this would be something formidable, and that remains feasible, the request is there, all that we need, is a financing. We held many conferences and we have partners who are ready to accompany us, the first draft-agreements on our level of the SNEL are signed, we are waiting only for the downstream of the government, we are certain that the request is there and possibilities of payment of these investments too. We stay on to persuade and convinced that the first request of all the citizens is initially electricity but less communications thus if the partners who come specially to accompany us in this effort from the extension by the distribution networks in the cities or people can easily find between10 and 30 dollars to be paid for the communications, they will have 10dollars to monthly pay for their consumption electricity.

However, it is enough for us just to demand 10 $ per month so that we can make viable any extension of electrification in the large cities like Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Matadi and so forth.... we start initially with that. And then, we will be able with the return, we will have realized to have a share always to reserve some for the rural electrification. Moreover in our plan of rectification, we already put a shutter of rural electrification

Summit Communications: what would You do about the very great project on the Inga dam, all possible connections towards North, Nigeria, Egypt, towards the South also, in particular towards South Africa could you speak a few moments, give us a general sight of the achievements in short and medium term starting from Inga and give us your current situation?

Mr. Vika di Panzu: In the court and medium term it is Inga III which is one of components of the Western Power Corridor (WESCOR), there is distribution part and transport, a telecommunications part. The production part with Inga III, who has 4000 Mw. the transport part lines starting from Inga to South Africa. In continuation, a connection of Inga towards Angola, Namibia, Botswana which will be the first realization which is already into short or in medium term, and we speaks about 2011 like the year of completion of all the works, but what we conceived in this project is to make the equipment of this power station, stage by stage, there will be four machines of 750 MW, the first machine finished one can already send the play in 2009, then one makes the second machine and the third and the remainder until 2011. In addition, the discussions are in runs with Nigeria and Egypt which await us for the creation of a joint venture between the company of electricity of Egypt and us to examine together how to mobilize the financings of the creation of this work. That is a long-term plan because this will take a little time to make also adhere to the other countries like Nigeria. We already began the discussions; they await us for the intergovernmental agreements and inter companies. Another long-term plan is the potential request expressed by Nigeria, 4000 MW and Egypt 5000 MW which await only talks, the expressions of interests is already expressed so that we can go from the front one. The project which now will be carried out is the project of WESCOR because we already exceeded the stage of creation of the mixed trust company; we are now at the stage of the release of the actions of the five companies and the constitution, the start up of this company whose seat will be in Gaberon in Botswana.

Summit Communications: How do you count before the return so that these kinds of receipts which you brought, obviously these important receipts for the SNEL when we are able at 2009 to envisage to receive fruits?

Mr. Vika di Panzu: In 2009, one can already have the first fruits and I believe that the very first project who will be tried certainly will be around Inga and I lately received people who made a letter of confirmation of interest, a reservation of power of 1100 MW starting from WESCOR, One is already advanced, one will start with this kind of customers and then when the works are finished, we will see the others which expressed their requests, we have already a counting of allthese people plus Botswana Power Corporation, we have already accounting since Inga III BOSCO is already sold and there is not even found.

Summit Communications: One can say that you already started this action of partnership, even I will say in the past when you were in load of export, which are the various formulas which you privilege?

Mr. Vika di Panzu: The first shutter that we privilege in the partnership for the realization of the works is "The Build Old Transform" and then there is the "Joint venture company" i.e. we privilege the companies which want to sign with the government of Congo the agreements of
Concession, they agree to pay the royalties for the resource that they exploit and at the end of the duration of this concession, they must transfer the property from these works with the country with the help of compensation on the residual value. Acting of expertise, one
Advances towards the rather high level of technique in power as in transport of tension, one speaks about the lines of 3500 kilometres (Inga - Kolwezi17) which utilize a technology much more sophisticated as well on the level of the production as on the level of transport. There is a true need for technology transfer; in fact projects are very interesting in the additional plan of income that we will have additional but also in the plan of knowledge and the expertise that we will profit. But in the plan of additional expertise we will have foreign experts who will come with us, there is a whole phase of technology transfer before we come at the end of the period of concession have you to it property of the infrastructures and in this moment there one must have time to train our technicians

Summit Communications: My last question if you can summarize maintenance which would be your policy for end the five nearest years?

Mr. Vika di Panzu: We are persuaded that in the five next years we will have known a deep institutional reform of the SNEL because it becomes a pressing need to re-evaluate the structure of the SNEL. If there is our forms institutional fundamental in the sector of the electricity of the DRC in general and in particular, a decentralization of the autonomy of management, i.e. a separation managerial of the company to have on a side the companies of production of electricity and transport and other share of the distributive firms of electrical power. This will return certainly the SNEL manageable and could influence the output of these companies since there will be nevertheless a certain competition between the various companies of electricity. To finish, once that, the reform of company will be made, we think that we will have a flourishing SNEL and who will be financially more solid and it will be a very strong partner who will be able to contribute very heavily in the national economic system.