Black Affairs, Africa and Development
World Bank To Fund Congo Hydroelectric Dam Project
VENTURES AFRICA – World Bank has approved a grant of $73.1 billion to help the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) fund the development the Inga III Base Chute (BC) hydroelectric dam.
The grant, combined with Africa Development Bank’s investment of $33.4 million late last year, will finance the impact of the project socially and environmentally and be used to conduct a comprehensive technical study to ensure the dam’s sustainability.
It will also be used to establish Inga Development Authority, an establishment that will source for and select private investors that can fund the project, while ensuring it conforms to international best practices.
Like most African countries, Congo is characterized with epileptic power supply. With a population of 65 million, only 9 percent has access to electricity.
Also, the mining sector on which the economy relies heavily on has suffered from power rations and companies have been asked to halt any plans of expansion.
The revival of the Inga III dam project is therefore celebrated as it is expected to produce about 4800 megawatts on completion even though it has the potential of producing 100 gigawatts of power by drawing energy from the Congo River, ranking it as the third largest hydropower dam in the world after China and Russia.
“Inga III BC is undoubtedly the most transformative project for Africa in the 21st century. It is one of the strategic pillars of development for the DRC, that needs energy to expand growth and reduce poverty in a sustainable way,” Matata Ponyo Mapon, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo said.
Out of the 4800 megawatts, South Africa would buy 2,500 megawatts. 1,300 megawatts will be sold to the country’s mining industry while the remaining will be sold to the national utility SNEL, which will in turn sell to about 7 million people living around Katanga province, the country’s capital.
However, the project has been criticized. According to non-profit organisation International Rivers, the World Bank should fund other energy solutions like wind and solar rather than the construction of the dam.
“The Grand Inga is a massive project that will require huge sums of money for its realization and astute management for tendering process and implementation. Based on history there are high risks of corrupt deals and ever-escalating costs,” it says.
“We will continue to push the World Bank and the DRC government to support clean local energy solutions rather than Africa’s next white elephant,” Peter Bosshard, International Rivers’ policy director said.
The global financial Institution however clarified in a statement that it had not reached a decision yet on whether to fund the construction of the Inga III project and the funds were not for construction but technical development and assessment.