Congo has signed a joint deal for a $14-billion hydroelectric project with Chinese consortium Three Gorges Corporation and another Spanish-led consortium.
The hydroelectric project, called Inga 3, is part of a project aimed at expanding the hydroelectric dams along the Congo River. Overall, it is set to entail an investment of $50 billion-$80 billion.
Despite having secured the investors and part of the funds, final approval to begin the works has been delayed due to red tape and disagreements between Congo and its partners.
In fact, Three Gorges Corporation and Grupo ACS were competing for this project. In the end, the government asked companies to present a joint bid, which they did in June.
After the agreement was signed, a new phase of the project is set to begin. At that point, investors must conduct detailed studies on the work they will undertake. Said study must take into account social considerations and the environmental impact it will have, according to a statement issued by the state-owned company responsible for infrastructure.
This hydroelectric project is an uphill battle
Recent details on the Inga 3 state that the 11,000-megawatt dam is projected to provide power for South Africa as well as mines and other consumers in Congo.
Originally, the project was created in 2013 and would have a capacity of 4,800 MW. However, criticism and doubts regarding the infrastructure’s purpose prompted the parties to restructure it and double the total generation capacity.
Despite this improvement, some critics expressed doubts about the execution of this project. This is the case of campaign group International Rivers, which has said the government ignores the energy needs of the people in Congo and dismisses simpler solutions for the sake of executing its ambitious hydroelectric project.
International Rivers added that Inga 3 would ultimately deliver little to no electricity to consumers inside Congo because of transmission losses and because production would not meet its target. In short, expanding production to South Africa or other alternatives like Nigeria, would be impossible.
Inga 3 is the first stone in a much larger project, expected to produce 40,000 MW. The Grand Inga project could become the world’s biggest hydroelectric production scheme.
For more information, check Energía16