World Bank funds rehab of DRC’s Inga complex, grid

The World Bank approved a US$296.7 million grant May 29 to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for rehabilitation of the Inga hydroelectric complex on the Congo River.

Currently, the 350-MW Inga 1 and 1,424-MW Inga 2 hydro plants produce a total of only 500 MW due to lack of maintenance. The plants are the keystone of a proposal by DRC and its neighbors to invest up to US$40 billion to expand the Inga complex to a target capacity of 40,000 MW. (HNN 4/16/07)

The World Bank said its grant will increase availability and reliability of low-cost and environmentally friendly electricity in the DRC and elsewhere in Africa. The money is to help pay for rehabilitation of the hydro plants, construction of a second transmission line to DRC capital Kinshasa, and rehabilitation and extension of the distribution network in Kinshasa.

The bank said the first component of the approved project requires a total of US$226.7 million, partly provided by other sources, for rehabilitation of the hydro facilities. The rehabilitation involves civil work on the intake canal to improve flow through the plant, and rehabilitation of hydroelectric turbines and other facilities to expand operational capacity of Inga 1 and 2.

MagEnergy Inc., a unit of Canadian magnesium producer MagIndustries Corp., currently is leading emergency refurbishment of generating units of Inga 2, in partnership with national utility Societe Nationale d’Electricite (SNEL) and Industrial Development Corp. of South Africa. (HNN 3/21/07) In March, MagEnergy announced the success extraction of a 460-ton turbine rotor in a major step toward emergency rehabilitation.

The bank said the second component of the project, to cost US$93.8 million from co-financing, involves construction of a 400-kilovolt transmission line from Inga to Kinshasa, complementing an existing 220-kV line. The third component, to cost US$88.5 million expected to come from the African Development Bank, is to expand and strengthen distribution in Kinshasa and extension of the grid into surrounding unelectrified areas.

The fourth and fifth components of the project, costing US$90 million, are to strengthen national utility SNEL and electricity sector regulation.

In April, the DRC said it anticipates additional tendering for rehabilitation and expansion of Inga when it receives the World Bank funds. At that time it said it would be pre-qualifying bidders for rehabilitation of Inga 1 and 2 turbines, and for construction of the Inga-Kinshasa transmission line.

Prospective bidders seeking additional information were invited to contact Daniel Pembele, Coordonateur de l’Unite de Preparation du Projet, Ave. Colonel Mondjiba No. 372, Kinshasa � Gombe, Congo, Republique Democratique; (243) 81-7005919; E-mail: danp_k2000@yahoo.fr.

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