South Africa, DRC leaders support Inga complex, Westcor plan

The presidents of South Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) met April 2-3, reviewing progress of their joint development plans in areas of health, education, employment, electricity, water, and infrastructure for DRC citizens.

South Africa President Thabo Mbeki welcomed the DRC delegation led by President Joseph Kabila for the fifth session of the South Africa-Democratic Republic of Congo Bi-National Commission.

�The success of the DRC is important for the success of the continent,� Mbeki said, acknowledging DRC’s location on the continent makes it crucial to bring stability to neighboring countries.

Mbeki said a portion of the talks focused on speeding up development of the 4,300-MW Inga 3 hydroelectric project, which is to utilize waters of the Congo River in DRC to generate clean, renewable, and sustainable electricity. Inga 3 would be the biggest single power station in Africa.

The objective of Inga 3, brought about by the five Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) nations, is to generate enough electricity to supply the SADC countries.

The two heads of state heralded the five-nation Western Power Corridor Co. (Pty) Ltd. (Westcor) project, calling it a world first in regional cross-border partnership. In February, Westcor formally launched development of the Inga 3 project with a solicitation for advisers, consultants, and operational staff. (HNN 2/21/08)

�Another world first is bulk renewable energy generation, which is natural, sustainable, and affordable,� a joint communique from the meeting said. �Under the custodianship of the World Energy Council, financing is prepared for early start to construction. A new era in the economic renaissance of the region begins.�

South Africa also has agreed to provide funds for the rehabilitation and modernization of the existing Inga Dam and hydro projects, one of the biggest programs to be implemented under the multi-nation New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

In February, the DRC prime minister endorsed a proposal by MagEnergy Inc. of Canada and Industrial Development Corp. of South Africa to perform Phase 2 rehabilitation of the 1,424-MW Inga 2 project. (HNN 2/25/08) The companies have been performing Phase 1 rehab of the project, including emergency repairs to several turbines and refurbishment of one previously non-functioning turbine. MagEnergy expects to complete that work by June.

The DRC recently said it expects to seek bids for additional rehabilitation of Inga 2 and 350-MW Inga 1.

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