Congo’s $9 Billion Hydropower Plant to Supply Power to Southern Africa

Inga Falls
Congo has Africa’s huge hydro-power potential

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has revised plans to build the Inga III hydropower plant, in order to account for the provision of 2,500 megawatts of energy to southern African countries.

The government intends the hydropower plant – located to the west of the country, at the world’s largest waterfalls, Inga Falls – to produce 4,000 megawatts of energy in total, of which 2,500 may be provided to Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

It is expected that construction of such a plant will cost over $9 billion, with the government set to discuss three received bids with applicants next month,  a member of the Inga III Steering Committee Vika di Panzu said, speaking in an interview in Kinshasa on Friday.  He added that construction is expected to start in 2016, once negotiations and details are finalised.

The country is pressing to move forward on the project, with di Panzu saying that the committee will consider final feasibility studies from the three bidding teams next month.  He revealed that teams vying for the contract include a partnership between China’s Three Gorges Corp. and Sinohydro Corp; a second group sees Korean companies Daewoo Corp. and Posco team up with Canadian SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.; with the third and final bid coming from a Spanish pairing of ACS Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA and the Eurofinsa Group.

Securing financing for the $9 billion power plant has been a problematic issue over recent years, with two plans for funding already having fallen through delaying the launch of the project – which is projected to take six years to complete.  Di Panzu detailed that the DRC’s latest financing plan hopes to see a partnership between the government and donors including the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

If the Inga plant is to source power to South Africa, a further hefty issue for the construction team will be the introduction of sufficient power cables to enable power to reach Africa’s largest economy.  In order to provide power to South Africa’s Witkop on the Eastern Cape from the Inga plant, 3,600 kilometres of power lines will need to be laid, estimated to cost in the region of $3 billion.