South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo signed a treaty to develop a hydropower project that will cost about $100 billion and eventually provide 40,000 megawatts of electricity to the continent.
“The Grand Inga project has the potential to light up the region and further boost economic growth of the surrounding countries,” President Jacob Zuma said in a speech in Kinshasa, Congo’s capital, yesterday. “This will also provide South African companies with further investment opportunities including in other areas of infrastructure.”
Grand Inga will be built in six phases before reaching full capacity, according to Congo’s Energy Ministry. One megawatt is enough to supply 2,000 average European homes.
Congo will choose a developer from three groups of companies, the ministry has said previously. The groups are made up of China Three Gorges Corp. and Sinohydro Corp.; Posco and Daewoo Corp. of South Korea in partnership with Canada’s SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.; and Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA, based in Madrid, and Spain’s Eurofinsa Group.
Congo currently has about 2,400 megawatts of installed capacity, about half of which is unavailable because of mismanagement, the World Bank said last year. Only about 10 percent of the country’s 70 million people have electricity, according to the Energy Ministry. South Africa, the continent’s biggest economy, has installed capacity of about 40,000 megawatts.
The treaty provides for the power to be shared between Congo, South Africa and other nations in the region. South Africa is also driving an initiative to connect members of the Southern African Development Community, a 15-member bloc, through a better road and rail network, Zuma said.
“Intra-regional trade and sustained growth on the continent must be preceded by enabling technical and transport infrastructure,” he said.