South Africa Cabinet advances treaty to develop 40,000-MW Grand Inga hydropower complex

Inga 3 Hydropower Project

South Africa’s Cabinet has advanced to Parliament a treaty for joint development of the 40,000-MW Grand Inga hydroelectric complex with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Cabinet approved August 20 the tabling before Parliament for ratification of the signed Grand Inga Treaty, which provides a framework for facilitating power generation from the giant hydro project on the Congo River in DRC. It also provides for power transmission to the DRC-Zambia border.

The DRC recently received a US$73.1 million technical assistance grant from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) for the 4,800-MW Inga 3 Basse Chute (Lower Falls) project, advancement of three mid-sized (10- to 100-MW) hydro projects and an Inga-Kolwezi-Zambia border transmission line. DRC recruited consultants in July and August to serve on expert panels on dam safety monitoring and environmental and social monitoring of Inga 3 Basse Chute.

The 350-MW Inga 1 and 1,424-MW Inga 2 hydroelectric projects currently are undergoing refurbishment. Additionally, the proposed 4,800-MW Inga 3 project is considered a step toward development of the 40,000-MW Grand Inga complex.

Ratification of the treaty would enable development of Phase 1 of the project, which is to provide 2,500 MW to South Africa and contribute to regional integration, energy security, access to energy, and economic growth in an environmentally sustainable manner, a Cabinet statement said. It said the agreement entails developing the 40,000-MW complex in seven phases.

The DRC has short-listed three groups of companies to be the potential developer of Inga 3 Basse Chute. They include China Three Gorges Corp. and Sinohydro Corp. of China; Posco and Daewoo of South Korea and Canada’s SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.; and Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA and the Eurofinsa Group of Spain.

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