March 20 (Bloomberg) -- The World Bank’s board of directors approved $73.1 million in technical assistance to help develop the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Inga 3 hydropower project.
The grant will finance environmental and social assessments as well as a cumulative-impact study and does not include construction or operational activities, the Washington-based lender said in an e-mailed statement.
“No decision has been taken on whether the World Bank Group will support the eventual construction of Inga 3,” it said.
Congo, Africa’s biggest copper producer, earlier this month ordered mining companies to halt any project expansion requiring more power amid a shortage. The country can provide only about half of the 900 megawatts demanded by miners in the province of Katanga, where the country’s copper is primarily located. The proposed $12 billion Inga project will produce 4,800 megawatts of electricity for South Africa and Congo.
Advocacy groups including Berkeley, California-based International Rivers have criticized the project’s potential environmental and social impact.
“By being involved in the development of Inga 3 BC from an early stage we can help ensure that its development is done right,” Makhtar Diop, the bank’s vice president for Africa, said in the statement.
Congo’s government wants to begin construction on the project by October 2015.
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