- Africa’s Grand Inga Dam has hit multiple road blocks and development has been slow
- A new DRC president and Chinese funding may see the building of the dam power ahead
The Congo River is home to the Inga Falls with an annual flow rate of about 42 000 cubic metres per second, providing a solution to one of Africa’s biggest problems: the shortage of electricity.
The Grand Inga Dam was meant to contribute to power supply as a hydroelectric dam with an expected generating capacity of 39 000 MW from 52 turbines. This capacity is almost double that of the Three Gorges Dam in China, currently the largest energy-generating dam in the world.
The Grand Inga Dam has the potential to meet the massive shortfall of electricity in Africa. However, construction has been slow and often halted for various reasons, including the withdrawal of funds by the World Bank after disagreements and concern about the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) ongoing corruption.
Now the project has a renewed energy thanks to a new DRC president and backing from China.
Newly sworn-in President Félix Tshisekedi promised his citizens he would connect at least half of the population to the national grid over the next 10 years. One of his main priorities is Inga III (Inga I and II have already been built).
The third stage of the Grand Inga Dam is backed financially by a consortia between the DRC, China and Spain. Chinese and Spanish investors have committed to funding $14 billion for technical studies before building and running Inga III. The consortia includes AEE power and China Three Gorges Corporation, which has also committed to attracting lenders for the project and buyers for the electricity.
The Grand Inga Dam relies heavily on China’s financial support, but without crippling the DRC in debt. President Xi Jinping has emphasised that he supports the project and is working to ensure China doesn’t leave poorer nations with unsustainable debt.
Should the dam be successful, it could provide the nation with energy and a means to pay off some of the debt.
The Grand Inga Dam has a long way to go before completion, but there appears to be a new enthusiasm among stakeholders to get going on the project.
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