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The World Bank has reportedly suspended funding to help develop a US$14bn hydropower project in DR Congo, after a disagreement with the nation over implementation plans
The announcement to halt financing the Inga 3 project followed the Congo’s decision “to take the project in a different strategic direction to that agreed between the World Bank and the government in 2014,” the Washington-based lender said in a statement on its website.
The World Bank agreed to US$73mn in technical assistance for the first phase of the US$100bn Grand Inga hydropower project which is expected to produce 44,000MW. Inga 3 alone is set to produce at least 4,800MW, almost double Congo’s current installed capacity.
China’s Three Gorges power plant, at 22,500MW, is currently the world’s biggest power plant.
Only six per cent of these funds had been disbursed before the decision to pull its support, the World Bank said. The lender will continue to work with the government to ensure the project’s execution follows proper procedures, it said.
Bruno Kapandji, who heads the Inga project for the government, was not available for comment.
The World Bank is halting its funding due to concerns that environmental and social standards will be overlooked as the Congo fast-tracks the project to honour a supply agreement with South Africa by 2021, Joshua Klemm, a policy director at lobby group International Rivers, said in an e-mailed statement. The two ventures which are still in the running to build the project are China Three Gorges Corp. in partnership with Sinohydro Corp., and Madrid-based Grupo ACS with Spain’s Eurofinsa SA.
The government has said it expects to receive final bids by the end of this month and will select a developer by September.