03 Feb

When volcanic action blocked Lake Kivu’s flow towards Lake Edward, a new outlet was created on the southern tip of the former. This natural phenomenon led to the formation of Rusizi River, which empties into Lake Tanganyika.

Massive tectonic movement, responsible for the formation of the Virunga Massif, erased one river from the surface of the earth and created a new one. The turmoil unplugged Lake Kivu’s connection to the Nile basin while repositioning it in the Congo water catchment area.

Rusizi River snakes through stunning landscapes between Lake Kivu and Lake Tanganyika, covering more than 100 kilometers. Along the way, it forms part of the boundary line between Rwanda and DR Congo. Farther downstream, it borders Burundi and DR Congo.

An investment consortium managed by the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (French acronym: CEPGL) operates a couple of hydroelectricity plants along the course of Rusizi River. The two power plants contributes electricity to the national grids of Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo.

Before pouring into Lake Tanganyika, Rusizi River splits into several arteries. The area’s relatively flatter plains and riparian swamps slows down the stream. In the 19th Century, European explorers thought the river was flowing in the opposite direction. Uncertain of the actual direction of the flow, Richard Burton and John Speke tested and, eventually, debunked the preposterous south-north flow hypothesis.

The northern part of the river is not as confusing. Charged by gravity, Rusizi storms downhill through gorges and falls. The steepest gradient can be seen within the first 40 kilometers of its course.