Transborder water management in the Congo Basin

Project description

Project title: Transborder water management in the Congo Basin
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Lead executing agency: International Commission of Congo Basin Kinshasa (CICOS)
Overall term: 2016 to 2019

Aerial view of the Congo River. (Photo: GIZ / Christina Karlicek)


The Congo Basin is the world’s second largest river basin, after the Amazon Basin. It is home to a unique range of flora and fauna, and holds enormous potential for the economic and social development of neighbouring states. In theory, the river could provide enough hydropower to cover the entire demand in sub-Saharan Africa. Many regions are only accessible by water, yet waterways, ships and ports are in a poor state of repair. Accidents are common, and individual sections of the river frequently become unnavigable. The few infrastructure projects that do exist still take insufficient account of environmental and social standards.


The International Commission of the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin (CICOS) assists its member countries with implementing initiatives for inland shipping and sustainable water management. The coordination platforms between the six countries and the way they involve the private sector are unique in the region.

DC Congo. Students at the CICOS captain’s college in Kinshasa. (Photo: GIZ / Kathrin Sirtl)


 CICOS, which has its registered offices in Kinshasa, brings together the following countries: Angola, Gabon, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic.

With assistance from the programme, CICOS is able to demonstrate the added value of regional cooperation on inland shipping: more effective use of the transport potential, and safer shipping. The provision of support to the Regional Training Center for Inland Navigation (CRFNI) plays a key role in this regard. The transboundary water management programme is designed to enable the identification and exploitation of economic potentials in a way that contributes to local development. To this end, coordination platforms are being established to ensure regular information-sharing, consultation and participation on the part of the relevant actors and sectors in the member countries.

The programme is also working to improve the performance of CICOS through the provision of organisational advisory services.


During the previous initiative, member countries agreed a common vision for water management, and adopted corresponding regional strategies. CICOS’ navigation training centre (CRFNI) has been renovated, and now offers additional new training courses. It is now seeing a growth in demand from the entire region. A manual has been produced that sets out binding rules for coordination between the neighbouring states in transboundary infrastructure projects. Significant improvements have been made to CICOS’ information system on water resources and inland shipping, and the system is now being used in political decision-making processes.

DC Congo. Fishermen in Wagenia. (Photo: GIZ / Jorn Schumann)

Additional information

Additional information