Congo River

Facilitating navigation on one of Africa’s largest rivers

With the support of the European Union, the Régie des Eaux fluviales of the Democratic Republic of Congo has undertaken to give new impetus to navigation on the fleuve Congo and the Kasaï River by rehabilitating the existing network of waterways.

 Artelia was thus entrusted with the hydraulic study of some 2,300 km of waterways in order to identify the safest routes and any improvements to be made.


The Congo River is a record-breaker. Its 4,700 km make it the second longest river in Africa after the Nile. In terms of flow and the size of its catchment area, it ranks second in the world after the Amazon. It also irrigates the second largest tropical rainforest in the world. The river’s median position around the equator means that its flow is relatively stable, allowing it to be navigated throughout the year and in all seasons. It therefore represents a tremendous opportunity for the development of river trade.

Although the presence of natural obstacles does not allow continuous navigation throughout its entire basin, the 1,734 km of the Kisangani-Kinshasa middle reach has no waterfalls. It is therefore a very attractive waterway for navigation, requiring little or no development. A large part of its main tributary, the Kasai River, is also part of this waterway. The study therefore focused on this area.

Artelia updated the navigation maps for these 2,300 km of waterways, divided between the Congo River (from Kinshasa to Kisangani) and the Kasai River (from Malela-Kwa to Ilebo). Our teams drew on existing maps and information and carried out a hydrological assessment by collecting various topographical and bathymetric data. They then created a hydraulic model of the whole area to determine navigability and map the navigation channels according to the type of craft involved (maximum convoy estimated 1,200 t, 255 m long, 2 m draught). This update has helped to make navigation on the river safer and helped to transport various products from the interior of the country to the capital.