World Facts

The Longest Rivers in Africa

The Nile-Kagera is the second longest river in the world and the longest river in Africa.

Being the 2nd largest continent of the globe, Africa has some of the longest rivers in the world like the Chambeshi and Nile rivers which flow through more than ten countries. The Nile has been considered the longest in the world for years now, but numerous Peruvian and Brazilian studies have concluded that Amazon River is longer after measuring the river including the Para estuary and its longest connecting canal.

The Six Longest Rivers in Africa

1) Nile Kagera

Kagera is an East African river which forms an upper part of the river Nile’s headwaters plus it carries water from Nile’s furthest source. The section known as river Kagera starts in Burundi and it flows out of Lake Rweru through the Burundi-Rwanda and the Tanzania-Rwanda borders to convergence with river Ruvubu. From the confluence, it flows over the Rusumo falls, through the Akagera National Park before turning east and flowing into Lake Victoria. Akagera River is fed by Ruvubu from Burundi and Nyabarongo from Rwanda. Stretching about 4,258 miles, the Nile-Kagera is the longest river in Africa. The Nile passes through 11 countries including South Sudan, Egypt, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

2) Chambeshi River

Stretching over 2,922 miles, Chambeshi of Zambia is the primary remote source of river Congo by length. Chambezi starts as a stream from the mountains located in Northeastern part of Zambia, right next to Lake Tanganyika and flows into Bangweulu swamps. It has numerous channels in wetlands which are about 1.24 miles wide. Chambeshi passes through multiple countries including Rwanda, Burundi, Cameroon, Zambia, Angola, Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

3) River Niger

Extending over 2,611 miles, Niger is the principal river in West Africa whose drainage basin is approximately 817,600 square miles in area. The source of Niger is in the highlands of Guinea, and it flows in a crescent through Nigeria, Benin’s border, Niger, and the Niger Delta before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. Niger is the third longest African river whose main tributary is River Benue.

4) Zambezi River

The Zambezi is the fourth longest in Africa and the largest east flowing river which drains into the Indian Ocean. The 1,599miles River originates from Zambia and flows through numerous nations including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola before emptying into the Indian Ocean. Some of the crucial features of river Zambezi include Ngoye, Chavuma, and Victoria Falls. The Zambezi has two hydroelectric power sources which power Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, and Zambia.

5) Ubangi-uele

Ubangi-uele is the most significant tributary of river Congo located in central Africa, which rises from the convergence of Uele and Mbomou rivers and flows through Congo and the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC) before joining River Congo in Liranga. Ubangi is 660 miles long, but with Uele which is 750 miles long, they form the most extended branch which is approximately 1,410 miles long.

6) Kasai River

Situated in central Africa, Kasai starts from Angola, and it serves as the DRC-Angola border before flowing into DRC. Some of Kasai's tributaries include rivers Sankuru, Kwango, and Fimi. The Kasai basin is composed mainly of the equatorial rainforest which is a perfect farming region for an area known for its infertility and sandy soil. The 1338-mile Kasai is a branch of the Congo River.

Significance of Africa's Longest Rivers

These rivers play a significant role in the economy of the countries where they flow through, like the region surrounding the Kasai basin which a fertile farming land. Some of these streams act as boundaries between two nations like river Nile which runs through the Rwanda-Tanzania border and Kasai river. A number of the rivers in Africa flow into some of the local lakes thus helping replenish the lake ecology with nutrients collected as the river flows from one throughout the continent.

The Longest Rivers in Africa

RankRiver Length (kilometres) Countries
1Nile-Kagera6,853Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Egypt, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan
2Congo-Chambeshi4,700Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Angola, Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Cameroon, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda
3Niger4,200Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Algeria, Guinea, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Benin, Chad
4Zambezi2,693Zambia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana
5Ubangi-Uele2,270Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo
6Kasai2,153Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo
7Orange2,092South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho
8Limpopo1,800Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana
9Senegal 1,641Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania
10Blue Nile1,600Ethiopia, Sudan

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