NewsCentral AfricaCongo signs deal for $14 bln Inga hydro project, but doubts remain over power supply


Posted on Monday, 22 October 2018 13:29

Congo signs deal for $14 bln Inga hydro project, but doubts remain over power supply


Tuesday, May 29, 2018, young girls stand in a market in Kinshasa, Congo. Photo: Sam Mednick/AP/SIPACongo signed a joint deal on Tuesday (October 16) with a consortium led by China Three Gorges Corporation and another Spanish-led consortium to develop its $14 billion Inga 3 hydroelectric project.

The Inga 3 project is part of a $50-$80 billion programme to expand hydroelectric dams along the Congo River, but it has repeatedly been delayed by red tape and disagreements between Democratic Republic of Congo and its partners.

After initially competing for the deal, the Chinese investor group and Spain's ACS (Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA) were asked to submit a joint bid, which they did in June.

"The electricity production from Inga 3 will reduce electricity the power deficit fro millions in Katanga province, Bas-Congo and the rest of the region, as well as Kinshasa. . It will also provide continuous power to companies, to the people in those areas. But most importantly, it will allow for the industrialisation of this country. Some of the electricity production will also be exported, sold in other African countries," said Congolese government official, Bruno Kampadji.

The next stage requires the investors to carry out detailed studies for the project, taking into account social and environmental considerations, the state agency responsible for the project said in a statement.

Frequent blackouts

The 11,000-megawatt Inga 3 is projected to provide power for South Africa as well as mines and other consumers in Congo.

Despite Congo's massive power potential, only 15% of its 82 million million inhabitants have access to electricity and the nearby capital suffers frequent blackouts.

In the capital Kinshasa, residents make do with candles, as the state's SNEL struggles to cope with demand to generate power in the country.

"I want the government to review how electricity is distributed, because here in Congo electricity distribution is a mess. We have fridges here at home, we have other electronics that we can't even use but at the end of the month, we always receive electricity bills. You pay your electricity bill but then only receive electricity on a Monday and there after you receive electricity two weeks after, or a month after," said Dada, a resident in Kinshasa who says power is so irregular that her children are forced to study under candle light in the evening.

Campaign group International Rivers has said the project would ultimately deliver little or no electricity to consumers inside Congo because of transmission losses and because production would not meet its target.

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