River Ubangi has two main tributaries, River Uele and River Kasai. River Uele is the longest tributary of River Ubangi, hence the name River Ubangi-Uele. Through its 2,253 kilometre course, it passes through an equatorial rainforest, flows around river islands and down rapids and waterfalls, before emptying its waters into River Congo. The confluence of Ubangi-Uele and River Congo is near Lake Tumba in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The river serves as an administrative boundary, as part of the boundary between the Congo and the Central African Republic.
River Ubangi-Kasai, like most African rivers, is partly navigable. The land along its banks is swampy. The rest is an equatorial rainforest and a habitat to a wide range of wild animals. The region also supports sparse population because of the harsh living conditions. The original inhabitants of this land were the Mbuti who lived in the land more than 2,000 years ago. They cultivated the land and practised fish farming for their livelihood. The people living along its banks find it impossible to abandon their deep rooted culture and still follow the path paved for them by their ancestors. They are renowned for their unmatched skill in farming and fishing.
Since the 1960’s, a development project for producing hydroelectric power from the water of River Ubangi is yet to be completed. There is a plan to divert the waters of this powerful river into River Chari, which drains into Lake Chad. Some of the inter-basin projects proposed included increased irrigation and fishing rearing. This is an interstate project that requires approval from heads of states of different states. In the most recent conference to discuss the diversion project, they agreed on inviting proposals for a viability study research. If and when this project goes forward in future, the world should expect a drastic improvement in the living standards and productivity of Central Africans, possibly from a developing country to an industrialised country. A river is a valuable resource with the ability to transform the economy of any country that commits its fund into profitable river development projects. Ranging from agricultural activities to recreational and transport, River Ubangi can bring revolution into the economy of the Central Africa region. The sooner the governments realise this fact, the faster they will mobilise their resources and channel them towards completing the proposed reservoir. Procrastination is injustice to the citizens who are development hungry.
The diversion dam proposed by the inter-government will serve as a reservoir for storing water for a lengthy period. Apart from producing electricity, the reservoir will provide water for municipal water supply and recreation. One of the greatest benefits that the people of the Central African Republic will derive from the construction of the dam is the control of floods during the rainy season. It is a sad reality that hundreds of Central Africans lose their lives to flood waters yearly, a tragedy that is easy to avert. Whether the dam built is an embankment dam, gravity or arch style dam, it will raise the level of flood-water and redirect it to follow its intended course.