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Grand Inga project treaty signed

December 2013

SOUTH AFRICA and the Democratic Republic of Congo have signed a crucial treaty on the Grand Inga hydropower project. This paves the way for the construction of the muchawaited hydropower station, which is expected to commence in October 2015.

The Inga project has the capacity to generate more than 40,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to meet the bulk

of the power needs of the entire SADC region. The DRC and South Africa are implementing the power project together with cooperating partners. Initially, construction of the hydropower station was expected to involve three other SADC countries – Angola, Botswana and Namibia in what was dubbed the Western Power Corridor (WESTCOR) project. However, due to various challenges, the WESTCOR project failed to materialize. Speaking during the treaty signing ceremony in October, South African President Jacob Zuma said the agreement was a major step towards the realisation of the long-cherished dream of the people of southern Africa. “I must convey how particularly pleased and excited I am by the progress taking place towards the realisation of the Grand Inga Hydropower Project,” he said. “This incredible feat of human ingenuity, when completed, will have the capacity to power Africa and indeed to export electricity beyond the continent.” He said South Africa was extremely proud to be working so closely with the DRC in realising this dream. “This represents one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken on the African continent, and one which will long be a resounding symbol of the rise of Africa and her people.” The Grand Inga project will seek to harness the hydropower potential of the Congo River, one of sub-Saharan Africa's longest rivers. “The first foundation stone” of the power station is expected to be laid in October 2015. The construction is expected to be done in different phases. First phase will involve construction of the Inga III Low- Head, which will have a capacity of 1,800MW and does not require damming of the Congo River. The next phase – called the Inga III High-Head will add an additional 3,000MW and involves construction of the Grand Inga Dam. Five other hydropower plants are expected to be built on the same dam, eventually raising its cumulative capacity to about 40,000 MW. When completed, the Grand Inga would surpass the Three Gorges hydroelectric project of China as the largest hydropower project in the world. Funding for the Grand Inga project is coming from a number of investors that include the African Development Bank, World Bank, French Development Agency, European Investment Bank and Development Bank of Southern Africa.

SOUTHERN AFRICA TODAY, December 2013 Full PDF  click here