South Africa Approves Treaty for $100 Billion Inga Hydropower

South Africa’s Cabinet approved a treaty signed with the Democratic Republic of Congo to begin development of a hydropower project that will eventually cost about $100 billion and generate 40,000 megawatts of electricity.

“The treaty provides the framework for the facilitation of power generation from the Grand Inga project and its delivery to the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia,” Jeff Radebe, a minister in South Africa’s Presidency, told reporters in Cape Town today. Ratification of the treaty by Parliament “enables development of phase one of the project, which will provide 2,500 megawatts of electricity to South Africa.”

The Grand Inga complex will be built in six phases before reaching full capacity, according to Congo’s Energy Ministry. One megawatt is enough to power about 200 middle-income South African homes at peak times, state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. said in March. The treaty provides for the power to be shared among nations in the region.

Congo’s government says it will choose a developer from three groups of companies: 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 SA.

“I’m not so sure about the timelines, but it’s a matter of great urgency,” Radebe said. “There are discussions between the two countries on the funding. It will involve lots and lots of money.”

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