The river is also a source of hydroelectric power for Angola, in the form of the Capanda Dam in Malanje Province, finished in 2004. The dam also provides water for irrigation of sugarcane and other crops in the lower Cuanza valley
Its lower course is navigable for about 150 miles and was the original route of Portuguese penetration into north Angola.
The river gives its name to the Angolan monetary currency.
The Barra do Kwanza, the mouth of the river, is gradually being developed to appeal to tourists and day-trippers from the captital, Luanda situated some 60 km to the north. Even a golf course is under development. Overnight accommodation is available but, due to very limited availability and high demand, pre booking is essential. Sport fishing is excellent, notably Tarpon. 90 kg examples are not unusual.
The river, from the bridge to the sea, forms the Northern border of the Quissama National Park.