DR Congo gears up for major hydro projects

hydro nashvillecorps flickrThe World Bank will invest an estimated US$550mn in hydro projects annually over 10 years in collaboration with the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA)

The Grand Inga and Inga III on the River Congo are among these projects, and are touted to be the world's largest hydro projects. PIDA is prioritising investment into nine key projects within strategic African regions.

Bruno Kapandji Kalala, minister of water resources and electricity for DR Congo, said, “Inga III project is moving forward; signing a partnership agreement with South Africa last year was one of its initial stages of development."

Inga III will generate 4,200 MW and is being built on Inga Falls, one of the world’s largest waterfalls where the water flows at a speed of 43 cubic metres (cu m) per second.

Kalala is scheduled to present further insights into the current developments of the Grand Inga and Inga III at the Clean Power Africa conference in Cape Town in May 2014.

Large-scale hydro schemes in Africa are being criticised for their alleged inefficiency in being a clean power source and a renewable option.

According to industry sources, Meles Zenawi, former Ethiopian prime minister, defended the 6,000 MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project against Western criticism in 2011 by saying, “We want our people to have a modern life and won’t allow them to be a case study of ancient living for scientists and researchers.”

Marelli Motori, technical director of Italian power company Gianluca Stanic, said, “A large-scale hydro plant requires significant civil works and investmentswhich sometimes strain the realisation of the project. On the other hand, with small hydro schemes, such configurations are not financially intense, have a short duration, less than two years, are environmentally-friendly, with minor infrastructural needs and social commitment."

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